OLSAS – University of Ottawa

Last updated: August 20, 2020

Note: This application guide contains information for fall 2021 admission.

University program information is subject to change. View the application for the most up-to-date details.

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About the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law

The Ottawa Advantage

The University of Ottawa offers unique advantages thanks to our location in the National Capital, home to the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal government, many non-governmental organizations and a thriving high-tech community.

Moreover, our proximity to downtown Ottawa provides you with access to a wide variety of law-related internship and practicum opportunities across many diverse fields, in government departments and beyond.

Ottawa also offers you the opportunity to take advantage of the outdoors, with our proximity to bicycle paths, ski hills, hiking trails in the Gatineau Hills and the longest skating rink the world: The Rideau Canal.

Diverse Expertise

The Common Law Section is a national and global leader in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Law and Technology
  • Health Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Public Law
  • International Law (including Immigration and Refugee Law)

We are driven by our commitment to social justice and dedicated to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people. We have an exceptional program in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Traditions.

We have one of the best mooting programs in the country. Each year, our students bring home awards from the top mooting competitions in Canada and around the world.

We educate the leaders of tomorrow in law and society, as our alumni work as lawyers in private and public practice. Law has always been a valued education beyond the legal world, and this will only increase in the future. We will see more of our graduates working in business, governments, technology, international organizations and the not-for-profit sector.

Real-World Experience

A variety of legal clinics operate in close conjunction with the law school, allowing students to earn course credits or undertake internships while working on real legal cases.

We offer a variety of “hands-on” learning opportunities at on-campus centres and clinics, including:

  • The University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic
  • The uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic
  • The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
  • The Human Rights Research and Education Centre
  • The Refugee Hub
  • The Ticket Defence Program
  • The Ian G. Scott Courtroom: A fully functional courtroom where sitting judges hear regular cases.

Programs and Degrees

We offer an excellent full-service program consisting of 2 sections: Common Law and Civil Law.

Civil Law

Civil Law is based on a legislative civil code and is enforced in Quebec and much of the non-English speaking world. The Civil Law Section of our faculty provides the opportunity for comparative studies and the possibility to receive a combined Juris Doctor/Licentiate of Laws (JD/LLL) degree.

If you wish to submit an application to a program leading to the Civil Law Licence (LLL), do this through the 105 application.

Common Law

Common Law is the system of law enforced everywhere in Canada, except Quebec, and in other major jurisdictions such as England, Australia and the United States.

The Common Law Section’s agreements with American University’s Washington College of Law and Michigan State University College of Law allow you to obtain both a Canadian JD and an American JD in a 4‑year combined program.

The Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (JD/MBA) program offers students the possibility to obtain a law degree and an MBA degree concurrently from uOttawa.

Along with Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), the Common Law Section offers a combined 4-year program leading to a Master of Arts (MA) (International Affairs) and a JD degree.

Each year, our programs are revised to reflect the interests and needs of Canada’s diverse communities.

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Programs

JD Program

We offer 2 distinct programs: 1 in English and 1 in French. The choice is up to you.

Both programs are 3 years in length and lead to a JD.

We provide a liberal and professional education for those intending to enter the practice of law, government service or any career in which knowledge of legal principles and legal process is necessary or desirable. The French Common Law Program is open to francophone and bilingual applicants.

If you register in the English Common Law Program, you are welcome to select courses offered in French.

Canadian and American Dual JD Program

We offer a unique 4-year combined program, run jointly with our partner schools in the United States, which allows you to obtain both a Canadian and an American law degree.

Participants spend 2 years at the University of Ottawa and 2 years at 1 of 2 US law schools:

  • Michigan State University College of Law in East Lansing, Michigan or
  • American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, DC.

Upon completion, you obtain a law degree from each law school, which opens the door to the full practice of law in Canada and the United States.

The International Affairs Combined Degrees (JD/MA Program)

The Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa and the NPSIA at Carleton University offer a combined 4-year program leading to a Master of Arts (International Affairs) and a JD degree.

The program is designed for students with a strong interest in international law and relations and provides an excellent basis for a career in government or the private sector, as well as advanced studies in international affairs and international law.

By pursuing the 2 degrees jointly, you have the opportunity to combine your research interests in law and international relations. You are also able to tap into the extensive work on international affairs and law conducted at our National Capital region institutions.

Note: In addition to the JD application submitted through OLSAS, you are required to submit an application to the NPSIA at Carleton University to be considered for this combined program.

You also reduce your net credit load by 3 University of Ottawa credits and 2 Carleton half courses, relative to the credit demands applied to studying for the 2 degrees outside of the combined program.

The 4-year combined program of study represents a more compressed period than the typical 3 years required to complete the JD degree and the typical 1.5 years required to complete the MA degree.

The deadline for the MA program with NPSIA is January 31, 2021.

Contact the NPSIA directly for more information on their application process:

Norman Paterson School of International Affairs
Carleton University
Colonel By Drive
Ottawa ON  K1S 5B6
Telephone: 613-520-6655

The JD/MBA Program

The Common Law Section and the Telfer School of Management of the University of Ottawa offer a combined JD/MBA program. The JD/MBA program is designed to be completed within 4 years.

The Faculty of Law and the School of Management make admission decisions jointly. You are first admitted to the JD portion of the program and then apply to and meet the admission requirements of the School of Management in the first year of your legal studies.

You must hold a baccalaureate degree with at least an “A-” cumulative grade point average (GPA) and satisfy the admission requirements of both programs.

Consult the MBA calendar and the appropriate section of the Faculty of Law calendar for additional information.

Note: The 3-year professional experience requirement of the MBA program may be waived if you are an exceptional student, provided you complete at least 1 year in the Law program and rank in the top 50% of your class prior to starting the MBA requirement of the joint program.

Admission to the combined program is competitive and the number of applicants admitted annually is limited. As a student enrolled in the JD/MBA program, you have access to scholarships to help finance your studies. You can receive funds only at the beginning of the combined degree component of the program, outside the Common Law Section.

Programme de formation pré-droit (PFPD)

The PFPD is an academic equity program financed by the Minister of Justice of Canada and offered at no charge to immigrants and refugees admitted to a Canadian Common Law program in French. With a duration of 4 weeks, the program takes place over the month of August directly preceding the start of participating students’ legal studies. For more information, communicate with us by email.

Studying Both Common Law and Civil Law – Jointly or Consecutively

  • Common law: Practiced in the US, the UK and most Commonwealth countries
  • Civil law: Practiced in Quebec, most of Europe, Latin America and much of Asia

Knowledge of both legal systems helps to ensure access to national and international markets in an era of globalization.

We are the only Canadian institution outside of Quebec that offers 2 complete programs in law, 1 leading to the JD and the other to the LLL. This unique bi-jural structure provides an ideal environment to receive training in both these great legal traditions.

If you have dual legal training, you are able to practice law anywhere in Canada, are well suited for the public service and are extremely well equipped to work in any field of international law.

If you wish to obtain both law degrees, you have 2 options to choose from:

  1. The Joint Stream: Programme de droit canadien (PDC)
    In this 3-year, combined program you will learn both common and civil law jointly.
    Note: This combined program is offered mainly in French. You must be fluent enough to understand lectures, complete readings and write examinations and papers in French. There are only 20 positions available in this stream, which includes several courses designed specifically for PDC students.
  2. The Consecutive Stream: National Program (JD)
    We offer Civil Law graduates from Canadian universities the opportunity to complete the JD degree in a 1-year program.
    Note: You can apply to the program after completing a civil law degree or during the third year of your civil law studies.

Admission to the program is based on your overall strength, including:

  • Grades
  • Experience
  • Community involvement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Available space

We assess an application only once all the required documents are provided.

Required documents:

  • A transcript of civil law studies
  • A Personal Statement
  • Curriculum vitæ (CV)
  • 2 letters of reference from civil law professors

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is not required for admission into the National Program.

Note: The admission requirements for the National Program were modified in 2015. If you completed your LLL at the University of Ottawa’s Droit Civil Faculty, you may apply via the university’s internal application process.

Access the internal application through uoZone.

Our Civil Law Section offers a parallel program for Common Law graduates leading to the LLL degree.

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Admission

We are interested in creating a vibrant and diverse academic environment and in preparing competent and compassionate professionals. To ensure that the student body represents the fullest possible range of social, economic, ethnic and cultural perspectives in our society, we consider many factors, including:

  • significant achievements in extracurricular activities while at university or in community involvement,
  • outstanding qualities or achievements in previous careers,
  • linguistic, cultural or other factors that add to your overall academic achievement and
  • personal success in overcoming challenges such as a disability or financial hardship.

Any information provided will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

There are 4 applicant categories:

  1. General
  2. Mature
  3. Indigenous
  4. Access

Each category has specific criteria and a process for applying or special circumstances relevant to an application.

Admission is highly competitive, with more than 2,700 applications for 310 first-year places. With the exception of mature students, you must have completed the equivalent of 3 years of full-time undergraduate studies (equal to 90 credits or 30 half courses) from an accredited university prior to beginning law school.

You must submit your LSAT score, your Personal Statement, transcripts for all postsecondary studies and 2 reference forms, 1 of which must come from an academic source.

The Admissions Committee is composed of professors, members of the Equity and Academic Success Program, admission staff and a limited number of third-year students.

Personal Statement

The Personal Statement that you must prepare is a critical part of your application and you should think of it as an interview with the Admissions Committee. In reviewing personal statements, committee members assess you according to the following considerations:

  1. Capacity for critical, creative and original thinking
  2. Communication skills, including writing skills
  3. Evidence of capacity to manage workload and time
  4. Ability to make a meaningful contribution to the overall law school environment and to the profession and the public it serves as demonstrated by, among other things:
    • A record of extracurricular activities and community involvement
    • Career experiences and achievements
    • Personal success in dealing with challenges
    • Diverse social, economic, ethnic or cultural experiences and perspectives
    • Awareness of and interest in specializations and other strengths of the Faculty’s program of legal education
    • Specific career aspirations
  5. Commitment to upholding ethical standards and to treating all university members with respect.

The information contained in personal statements will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Do not use the Personal Statement as a resumé. Instead, explain why you are interested in studying and practicing law at the University of Ottawa, with regard to the 5 criteria.

You must also send an up-to-date resumé or CV to OLSAS in addition to your Personal Statement if you are applying in the Mature or Indigenous category.

Do not use your Personal Statement to describe why you are applying in the Special Circumstances or Access categories. Dedicated forms are provided for this purpose in the application.

The LSAT

The LSAT is required if you are applying to first-year programs in English, without exception.

We do not set a minimum LSAT score requirement. The weight given to the LSAT will vary according to the other elements in your file.

If you decide to write the LSAT on a date other than the one indicated on your application, amend your OLSAS application and inform the University of Ottawa in writing prior to writing the test.

If English is not your first language, the LSAT, while relevant, may carry less weight in the Admissions Committee’s evaluation of the application. The LSAT is not required for upper-year applicants or for students applying to the French Common Law Program.

We strongly recommend that you write the LSAT by November 2020. The Admissions Committee will hold for the January scores. However, the results of the February LSAT will not be available until late March. Your application remains incomplete, and we will not evaluate it, until all documents, including the LSAT results, are received. Writing the LSAT in February may therefore prejudice your chance of admission.

The Admissions Committee will not wait for the March 2021 LSAT score to review your file, if there is a previous score available.

Results from an LSAT taken prior to June 2016 are not accepted.

Files are not assessed until they are complete and you have provided all required documents. The deadline to apply for an English program for fall 2021 is November 1, 2020. Applications that remain incomplete after April 1, 2021, will be cancelled without further notice.

The deadline to apply for a French program for fall 2021 is March 1, 2021. Applications that remain incomplete after August 1, 2021, will be cancelled without further notice.

Assessment of International Transcripts

If you have undertaken undergraduate or graduate studies outside Canada and the United States, World Education Services must assess your transcript. All documentation must then be submitted through OLSAS for consideration.

Education Equity

The Education Equity Office focuses on increasing the participation of persons from traditionally under-represented groups:

  • Visible, linguistic and ethnic minorities
  • Indigenous people
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Persons with economic disadvantages
  • Individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

The Office advises the Admissions Committee, develops recruitment and outreach strategies, and examines the content and structure of the curriculum to ensure it does not perpetuate racism, sexism or other discriminatory attitudes or approaches. This office seeks to ensure that students have every opportunity to participate in the academic and social activities offered at the Faculty of Law.

We developed an academic support program to assist those students whose life experiences and lack of recent university studies may make the transition to law school more difficult.

We encourage you to suggest changes both inside and outside the classroom to ensure that your experiences in the Common Law Section are intellectually and personally stimulating. You are also invited to initiate activities that will bring your ideas and concerns to the attention of the legal community.

Half-Time Studies

If you are unable to study full-time, you can apply to complete your studies on a half-time basis. To qualify, you must have received an offer of admission to the full-time program.

You will be required to demonstrate special circumstances that could be accommodated by studying on a half-time basis. These circumstances might include:

  • Primary responsibility for the care of young children or other dependants
  • Personal or family health difficulties
  • Accommodations required to promote education equity (e.g., considerations affecting persons who have a physical or learning disability)

After receiving your offer admission, you may write to the head of the Admissions Committee to request permission to switch to half-time studies. If you are studying on a half-time basis, you must complete your program within 6 years of admission.

General Applicants

Use the General category when you apply to the first year of the JD program (or 1 of the combined programs) unless you feel you qualify to apply in 1 of the specific categories.

Undergraduate academic performance is the most significant factor in the evaluation process. Most successful applicants have at least an “A-” average overall.

The LSAT is mandatory. We do not set a minimum required score for the LSAT. However, the Admissions Committee will consider your LSAT results and writing sample. The weight given to the LSAT will vary according to the other elements of your application.

The Personal Statement is an important part of your application and should be written with care. You must also submit 2 letters of reference. While at least 1 reference must be from an academic source, it is preferable to have 2 academic references.

Ensure that OLSAS receives the most recent transcripts for all of your postsecondary studies.

General Category – Special Circumstances

If you feel that a significant 1-time event that occurred during your undergraduate studies affected your academic performance during a specific academic term or year, inform the Admissions Committee.

Provide information that relates to these special circumstances in the application. Be sure to indicate which academic term(s) were affected. Provide supporting documents where possible.

Mature Applicants

You may be considered a mature applicant if you have 5 or more years of work or other non-academic experience since completing high school studies. The period of non-academic experience may include part-time, but not full-time, postsecondary studies. You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (landed immigrant) to apply in this category.

As with all applicants, the main selection criteria are demonstrated capacity for academic success and contribution to the Law School, the legal profession and the broader community.

We will consider the following factors:

  • Any previous academic performance
  • The LSAT
  • Relevant outstanding qualities, as evidenced by previous career and/or life experiences

The academic program in law school is very demanding. We recommend that you demonstrate a capacity for academic success, including completing at least 1 university course.

As a mature applicant, you must submit an up-to-date resumé or curriculum vitæ (CV) along with your Personal Statement. Do not use the Personal Statement as a resumé. You must also submit 2 letters of reference, of which at least 1 should come from an academic source. If you are unable to obtain a letter of reference from an academic source, choose references who are able to speak to your abilities as they relate to law school, namely the ability to analyze, write, conduct research, work in groups and organize your time.

Ensure that OLSAS receives all of your postsecondary transcripts.

Indigenous Applicants

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis applicants may apply under our General category or under our specific admissions categories. If you meet the Mature category requirements, you may apply under both the Mature and Indigenous categories.

If you choose to apply under the Indigenous category, we encourage you to submit a Personal Statement that discusses your work, personal and community experiences, and other factors relevant to your application. In your Personal Statement, we encourage you to describe your connection to your Indigenous community – including the extent to which you are involved in your Indigenous community, if applicable.

You must submit these items:

  • An up-to-date résumé or CV, along with your Personal Statement in the Indigenous category.
  • Two letters of reference. One letter should be from an academic source, and the second letter should support your connection to your Indigenous community.
  • Proof of Indigenous ancestry or membership.

Proof of Indigenous ancestry or membership can take a number of forms. Consult the University of Ottawa’s policy on admissions streams and scholarships intended for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis applicants [PDF].

If you are admitted, the Admissions Committee may recommend that you complete the Indigenous Law Centre Summer Program in Property and Customary Law. It is therefore crucial that you submit a complete file as quickly as possible, so the Admissions Committee can make its decision in time for you to begin the ILC Summer Program in Saskatchewan in May.

Access Category

We welcome students who have experienced inequality of a systemic, ongoing nature or who are from groups that have experienced identifiable social or economic barriers to education. These students may apply in either the General or Access category.

The factors that would support your candidacy in this category are based on the Ontario Human Rights Code, which states:

“Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, same sex partnership status, family status or disability” (R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s.1; 1999, c.6, s.28 [1]; 2001, c.32, s.27 [1]).

In addition, the Admissions Committee considers severe economic hardship to be a barrier, with appropriate documentation.

For the Access category, you must provide all information required of General category applicants, namely:

  • a completed application
  • official transcripts of all postsecondary studies
  • 2 letters of reference. At least 1 of the letters must come from an academic source, but it is preferable to have 2 academic letters of reference.

If you wish to be considered in the Access category, you are required to explain the reasons for applying in this category. Provide this explanation in the application screen identified for this purpose. You may also wish to refer to the reasons for applying in this category in your Personal Statement, as appropriate.

We will review your entire application in light of the information provided. If, in the Access category, you wish to have your academic profile or LSAT performance assessed in relation to the reasons for applying in this category, we encourage you to provide supporting documentation.

If you apply in the Access category on account of inequality or barriers related to disability, provide more specific information from a health care professional about capacities and potential accommodation. We may also contact you after we receive your application to ask that you provide more specific information.

Note to Upper-year Applicants

Upper-year applicants are not required to select a category.

The application deadline is May 1, 2021, for all upper-year applicants. Files are not assessed until they are complete and all required documents are provided. As the number of spaces available is limited, any delay in completing an application can prejudice admission. Files that are incomplete as of August 1, 2021, will be closed without further notice.

Transfer Applicants

Transfer applications for the second year of the JD program will be accepted only from students who successfully completed the first year of the JD program in a Canadian common law school. If you have undertaken or completed your legal studies outside of Canada, you cannot apply in this category.

If you are applying as a transfer applicant, explain why you want to study at the University of Ottawa. You should use your Personal Statement to describe the personal, academic and/or professional reasons why you wish to continue law studies in Ottawa. If you have compelling circumstances that make it difficult to be away from Ottawa, you will be given priority.

You must also submit:

  • your official law school transcripts
  • 2 letters of reference, including at least 1 from a law professor
  • a letter from the Dean of your current law school attesting that you are in good standing and have not been the subject of any disciplinary actions

We do not require LSAT results from transfer applicants.

Letter of Permission

You can apply in this category if you wish to complete 1 semester or 1 full year of your law studies at the University of Ottawa as a visiting student, with the permission of your law school.

You should use your Personal Statement to describe the personal, academic and professional reasons why you wish to study at the University of Ottawa. If you have compelling circumstances that make it difficult to be away from Ottawa, you will be given priority.

You must submit:

  • your official law school transcripts
  • 2 letters of reference, including at least 1 from a law professor
  • a letter from the Dean of your current law school attesting that you are in good standing and have not been the subject of any disciplinary actions

We do not require LSAT results from Letter of Permission applicants.

National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) Applicants

If you wish to be admitted to the practice of law in a Canadian Common Law jurisdiction and have completed a law degree from Quebec or from a foreign jurisdiction, you can apply for an assessment of the equivalency of your legal studies by the NCA (established by the Committee of Canadian Law Deans and the Canadian Federation of Law Societies).

For further information, write directly to the National Committee on Accreditation:

Federation of Law Societies of Canada
World Exchange Plaza
1810-45 O’Connor Street
Ottawa ON  K1P 1A4

Telephone: 613-236-7272
Email: info@flsc.ca

If you have received advanced standing from the NCA, you may apply to the Faculty in this category. If the NCA has not granted you advanced standing, you must apply as a first-year student and complete the 3-year JD program to practice law in Canada.

If you are applying to do course work required by the NCA, use the Personal Statement to explain why you wish to complete your courses at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. A copy of the NCA assessment must be sent directly from the NCA, and 2 letters of reference, 1 of which should come from an academic source. If an official NCA assessment is provided, you are not required to send original transcripts from outside Ontario. We do not require LSAT results from applicants in this category.

Note: If you are an NCA applicant, and we do not receive your NCA assessment and your final grades from your last year of law studies by August 1, 2021, your application will be cancelled.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

Our Common Law Section offers a number of scholarships and bursaries for first-year students. While some require an application, others are offered automatically.

Review admission scholarships and bursaries for:

Financial aid for law students is available from a variety of sources.

For complete information about financial aid and applications, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Service:

University of Ottawa
55 Laurier Avenue East, Room 3156
Ottawa ON  K1N 6N5

Email: loansandawards@uottawa.ca

Late Applications

Requests to submit late applications must be made in writing to the Admissions Committee. Include the reason for the request. Extensions of application deadlines are rarely granted.

Application Fee Waivers

You may request a waiver for the $100 fee if you are in financial difficulty. The basic criterion for granting a waiver is the inability to pay.

We will assess requests submitted by a fee waiver application form obtained directly from the Law School. No other fees will be waived. No waivers will be granted retroactively.

To obtain a waiver form, contact the Admissions Office:

Admissions Office
Faculty of Law
Common Law Section
University of Ottawa
57 Louis Pasteur, Room 221
Ottawa ON  K1N 6N5

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Contact Information

The University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 3270
Fax: 613-562-5124
Email: comlaw@uottawa.ca

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