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University Of Ottawa Personal Statement Law Example

University program information is subject to change. For the most up-to-date details, view the online application.

Last updated: August 24, 2017

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About the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law

The Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law offers you an unparalleled learning environment. While we have rich course offerings in all areas of the law, few law schools can match our strength in e-commerce, intellectual property and other areas of technology law.

Key strengths:

  • leading programs in international law and environmental law
  • a strong focus on legal issues related to social justice
  • dispute resolution
  • advocacy
  • professional responsibility
  • legal ethics


Our location in the national capital, within walking distance of Parliament, the Supreme Court and various government departments and tribunals, enhances our capacity to deliver a wide range of specialized courses in areas of public law, including constitutional, administrative, environmental and Aboriginal/Indigenous law.

Programs & Degrees

Civil Law

The Civil Law section of our faculty provides the opportunity for comparative studies and the possibility of receiving a combined Juris Doctor/Licentiate of Laws (JD/LLL) degree.

Common Law

The Common Law section’s agreements with American University’s Washington College of Law and Michigan State University College of Law allow University of Ottawa students 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, the Common Law Section offers a combined four-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.


  • The University of Ottawa’s law school hosts the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, which directs various student volunteer projects in the human rights field and sponsors distinguished visitors. These visitors include the Centre for Law, Technology and Society; the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics; the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability; the Secretariat of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law; and the CGA Tax Research Centre, all of which are engaged in cutting-edge research in their respective fields.
  • A variety of legal clinics operate in close conjunction with the law school, allowing students to earn course units or undertake internships while working on real legal cases.
  • For those who wish to gain hands-on experience, we offer a variety of learning opportunities at on-campus centres and clinics including: University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic, which is one of the largest legal aid clinics in Ottawa; uOttawa-Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic; Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, which opened its doors in 2003 and is the only one of its kind in Canada; uOttawa Business Law Clinic; Human Rights Research and Education Centre; and Secretariat of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.
  • As a University of Ottawa law student, you will have access to our newly opened, fully functional courtroom and adjoining classroom, where sitting judges hear regular cases, including motions, appeals, judicial reviews and applications. The Ian. G. Scott Courtroom, opened in 2013, links the practicing bar and judiciary to classes at our Faculty of Law by way of a special classroom that allows students to observe actual legal hearings from behind a 1-way glass.

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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 degree.

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.

Students registered in the English Common Law Program are welcome to select courses offered in French, if desired.

Canadian and American Dual JD Program

The University of Ottawa offers a unique 4-year combined program that allows you to obtain both the Canadian and the American law degrees. This program is offered jointly by the University of Ottawa and our partner schools in the United States.

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

  • Michigan State University College of Law in East Lansing, Michigan, or
  • American University (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 Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (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 research interests in law and international relations, and are able to tap into the extensive work on international affairs and law conducted at the 2 institutions located in the National Capital region.

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.

If you are interested in this combined program, you must apply separately and in the same year to the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

The deadline for the MA program is January 31, 2018.

Contact them directly:
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.

Admission to the JD/MBA program is decided jointly by the Faculty of Law and the School of Management. You are first admitted to the JD portion of the program and then apply to 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, 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 for exceptional students provided they complete at least 1 year in the Law program and rank in the top 50% of their 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. Two students enrolled in the JD/MBA program will be eligible for a scholarship to help finance their studies. The funds will be received only at the beginning of the combined degree component of the program, outside the Common Law section.

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.

The Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa is 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 of these great legal traditions.

If you have dual legal training, you are able to practice law anywhere in Canada, and are well-suited for the public service and 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 as well as 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)
    The Common Law section of the Faculty of Law offers 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 3rd year of your civil law studies.

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

  • grades,
  • experience,
  • community involvement,
  • letters of recommendation, and
  • available space.

An application is assessed only once all the required documents are provided:

  • a transcript of civil law studies,
  • a personal statement,
  • curriculum vitae and
  • 2 letters of reference from civil law professors.

The 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 form.

The Civil Law section at the Faculty of Law offers a parallel program for common law graduates leading to the LLL degree.

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The law school is 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:

  • 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 an applicant’s 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. Aboriginal/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 2,500 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.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a personal statement and 2 reference forms are also required. The Admissions Committee is composed of professors, the Manager of the Equity and Academic Success Program and a limited number of third-year students.

Personal Statement

The personal statement that you must prepare is a critical part of the application, and should be thought of 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 work load 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.

Please 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 curriculum vitae to OLSAS in addition to your personal statement if you are applying in the Mature or Aboriginal/Indigenous category.

Please 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 Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is required if you are applying to first year, without exception.

The school does 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 1 indicated on your application, please inform OLSAS and the University of Ottawa in writing prior to writing the test.

If English is not your 1st language, the LSAT, while relevant, may carry less weight in the Admission 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.

It is strongly recommended that you write the LSAT by December 2017; it must be written in February 2018 at the latest. The results of the February LSAT will not be available until late March. An application is incomplete and not evaluated 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 February LSAT score to review your file, if there is a previous score available.

Results from an LSAT taken prior to June 2013 are not accepted.

Files are not assessed until they are complete and you have provided all required documents. The application deadline for fall 2018 entry is November 1, 2017. Applications that remain incomplete after May 1, 2018, will be cancelled without further notice.

Assessment of Foreign Transcripts

If you have undertaken undergraduate studies outside Canada and the United States, World Education Services or an equivalent service 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 underrepresented groups:

  • visible, linguistic and ethnic minorities;
  • Aboriginal/Indigenous peoples;
  • persons with disabilities;
  • persons with economic disadvantages; and
  • 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.

An academic support program was developed 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 the following:

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

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 one 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. The University of Ottawa does not set a minimum required score for the LSAT. However, your LSAT results and writing sample are elements that will be considered by the Admissions Committee. 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 one reference must be from an academic source, it is preferable to have 2 academic references.

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

General Category – Special Circumstances

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

Provide information that relates to these special circumstances in the online application. Be sure to indicate which academic term(s) were affected. Please 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.

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.

Consideration will be given to the following factors:

  • any previous academic performance;
  • the LSAT; and
  • relevant outstanding qualities, as evidenced by previous career and/or life experiences.

The academic program in law school is very demanding. It is recommended you demonstrate a capacity for academic success, including completing at least 1 university course. You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to apply in this category.

As a mature applicant, you must submit an up-to-date resumé or curriculum vitae along with your personal statement. Please do not use the personal statement as a resumé. You must also submit 2 letters of reference, at least 1 of which should come from an academic source. If you are unable to obtain a letter of reference from an academic source, please 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.

Please ensure that OLSAS receives all of your postsecondary transcripts.

Aboriginal/Indigenous Applicants

Persons of Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples may apply as either General or Specific category applicants. As Specific category applicants, persons of Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry who meet the Mature category requirements may apply under both the Mature and Aboriginal/Indigenous categories.

The personal statement should discuss work, personal and community experiences, and other factors relevant to the application.

In your statement it is important that you explain the degree to which you identify with your Aboriginal/Indigenous community. There should be some indication given, if appropriate, of the extent to which you were involved in your Aboriginal/Indigenous community.

Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry and membership may be indicative of identity and can act as good proxies for culture and colonial experience, but there must be some evidence of a connection to Aboriginal/Indigenous culture and/or family impact of colonization in your personal statement. Proof of Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry and membership is required but can take a number of forms, such as evidence of a connection to, and membership in, an Aboriginal/Indigenous community.

You must submit these items:

  • an up-to-date resumé or curriculum vitae along with your personal statement in the Aboriginal/Indigenous category;
  • 2 letters of reference, at least 1 of which should be from an academic source and the other a non-academic letter supporting your connection to the Aboriginal/Indigenous community; and
  • proof of Aboriginal/Indigenous ancestry or membership. Please ensure that OLSAS receives all of your postsecondary transcripts.

The Admissions Committee may admit you in the Aboriginal/Indigenous category unconditionally or subject to successfully completing the Program of Legal Studies for Native People. 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 Program of Legal Studies for Native People in Saskatchewan in May.

Access Category – All JD Programs

The University of Ottawa welcomes 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 form, official transcripts of all postsecondary studies and 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. This explanation should be provided in the online 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.

The entire application will be reviewed 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, you are encouraged to provide supporting documentation.

If you apply in the Access category on account of inequality or barriers related to disability, please provide more specific information from a health care professional about capacities and potential accommodation. You may also be contacted after your application is received to 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 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 will be closed without further notice.

Transfer Applicants

Transfer applications into 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 applying as a transfer applicant, please explain why you want to study at the University of Ottawa. Your personal statement should be used to describe 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, as well as 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.

LSAT results are not required for 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. The personal statement should be used to describe 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.

Please submit your official law school transcripts, 2 letters of reference, including at least 1 from a law professor, as well as 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.

LSAT results are not required for 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 to the NCA (established by the Committee of Canadian Law Deans and the Canadian Federation of Law Societies).

For further information please write directly to National Committee on Accreditation:

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

Telephone: 613-236-1700
Email: nca@flsc.ca

If you have received advanced standing from the NCA, you may submit an application 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 in order to practice law in Canada.

If you are applying to do course work required by the NCA, please 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. The LSAT is not required for applicants in this category. If an official NCA assessment is provided, you are not required to send original transcripts from outside Ontario.

Note: The file of NCA applicants whose assessment from the NCA or whose final grades from their last year of law studies are not available by August 1, will be cancelled.

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Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Common Law section of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa offers a number of scholarships and bursaries for first-year students. While some require an application, others are offered automatically.

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

For complete information about financial aid and applications, contact 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. Please 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.

Requests will be assessed 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:
Faculty of Law
Common Law Section
University of Ottawa
57 Louis Pasteur, Room 221
Ottawa ON  K1N 6N5

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Contact Information

Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 3270
Fax: 613-562-5124
Email: comlaw@uottawa.ca

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The University of Saskatchewan College of Law is pleased to announce the new Certification in common law in French - Certification de common law en français (CCLF), which is being launched through a partnership with the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

The CCLF will allow incoming students with competencies in French the unique opportunity to obtain a Certificate in French Common Law from the University of Ottawa during the completion of the three year University of Saskatchewan J.D. Program. 

This joint program is the first of its kind in Canada, and will allow selected students the opportunity to gain valuable skills in French legal writing and advocacy as well as a deep understanding of the important issues surrounding language rights in Canada. 

Selected students will complete an exchange in Ottawa, compete in a moot court competition with teams throughout Canada, be paired with experienced mentors in the legal profession, and have the opportunity to complete a credited internship with law firms, organizations and government actors that work in French. 

These unique experiences will give participating students the necessary tools to offer legal services in French upon graduation. The CCLF is a first step towards a varied and rewarding career, including:

  • opening doors to prestigious clerkships with the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts and the federal public service;
  • accessing legal careers where legal training and proficiency in both official languages is an asset;
  • contributing legal services to the Francophone community, in the language to which they are entitled;
  • contributing to the administration of justice in both official languages; and
  • becoming part of a network of 1,000 alumni of the uOttawa French Common Law Program who share this unique training, recognized for its excellence in Canada and around the world.

The CCLF will be open to students entering their first year of studies in the University of Saskatchewan J.D. program.

For more information on this unique program, please contact Doreen Petrow, Admissions Officer, College of Law at doreen.petrow@usask.ca or Professor Caroline Magnan, Director, CCLF Program, at cmagnan@uottawa.ca.

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