Best Law Schools in Canada
There is very little analysis and information out there to give prospective law students the tools to properly choose the best law school for them.
As such, the CampusRankings team has created the most comprehensive analysis on the web of the best law schools in Canada.
To see our unedited student-driven ratings on Canadian universities, visit the latest University Rankings on our rankings page. Don’t forget, if you want to find your personalized university rankings for YOU, complete our MatchU quiz — it takes 10 mins and is 100% free. Do the quiz here.
Here, we will evaluate each school based on four criteria: (1) quality of education – 40%, (2) reputation- 30%, (3) university life – 20%, and (4) value – 10%. The top 6 best laws schools in Canada are as follows (in no particular order). Please either read through or click on each school to jump there.
– McGill University Faculty of Law
– University of Toronto Faculty of Law
– University of British Columbia – Faculty of Law at Allard Hall
– Université de Montréal Faculté de droit
– Queen’s University Faculty of Law
– Osgoode Hall Law School – York University
– Honourable Mentions
McGill University – Faculty of Law
The quality of education at McGill is without a doubt one of the best in the world making it definitely one of the best law schools in Canada. The QS World University Rankings listed McGill’s law school as the 27th best in the world, and second best in Canada. Similar to our weightings, the QS ratings give a 0.4 weighting to academic reputation to which McGill was ranked second in Canada. This clearly demonstrates that the quality of education is top notch.
Furthermore, MacLean’s magazine ranked McGill as the 4th best common law school in Canada and best civil law school in Canada but within that study, the faculty had the 6th most academic sitations, although this isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of quality of education. Finally, McGill came 23rd in the world (and second in Canada) in the Times Higher Education Top 50 Arts and Humanities University Rankings. Now although being ranked for arts & humanitities is not specific to law, this gives a clear indication of the quality of education you’d expect at McGill Law.
One aspect of McGill Law that provides an advantage over most universities is its bilingual opportunities by offering bilingual degrees. Another distinguishing feature is that it offers the best civil law education in Canada, and believe it or not, civil law is the most commonly used system of law in the world.
REPUTATION – 9.5/10
McGill itself has one of the best reputations in the world, let alone in Canada. In the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, McGill was 31st in the world and tied for second in Canada, illustrating that the university is highly recognized. In terms of law, MacLean’s ranked McGill 4th in Canada for elite firm hiring for common law and first in civil law, as well as 1st in Canada for Supreme Court clerkship. As well, the QS World University Rankings also gave McGill Law the highest score in terms of Employer reputation in Canada.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 7/10
The campus is located in Montreal, which is known as a very exciting and fun city. However, as was the case with the University of Toronto, this doesn’t allow students to have a unique university experience. It is however known to be a fairly boring university when not considering the surrounding nightlife. As such, McGill students gave the city good marks according to the Globe and Mail student satisfaction survey as well as equally good marks for student residences and average marks for campus atmosphere.
VALUE – 10/10
Oddly enough, the tuition for McGill is the lowest out of any on this list. For out of province students, the undergraduate degree is $6155.40 and $5858.10 for a masters. Meanwhile, in province students pay $2421.90 for undergraduate degree and $2167.80 for a masters. Combine this with the metrics above, McGill is by far the best bang for your buck.
University of British Columbia – Faculty of Law at Allard Hall
QUALITY OF EDUCATION – 8.5/10
UBC offers tremendous quality of education throughout its degree, and law is no different. The QS World University Rankings ranked UBC Law as the third best in Canada and 40th in the world. It’s academic reputation was also 3rd in Canada but its score was significantly lower than that of U of T and McGill. Interestingly enough as well, UBC professors had a very high score for academic citations, far exceeding McGill and almost equaling U of T.
Similarly, UBC was ranked 40th in the world and 3rd in Canada according to the Times Higher Education Arts and Humanities rankings. MacLean’s ranked UBC as the 5th best law school in Canada this year, falling from 3rd the previous year. Despite this, fifth is very high but even this ranking is likely higher than it should since it scored very high in national reach, which we believe to be an irrelevant metric. Thus, between these three rankings, we can derive that UBC is one of the best law schools in Canada when considering its quality of education despite MacLean’s less than ideal but still impressive rankings.
REPUTATION – 8.5/10
UBC has such a good reputation around the world for various programs, law being one of them. In the Times Higher Education Reputation Rankings, UBC was 31st in the world and tied for second in Canada (with McGill), illustrating that the university is highly regarded. With regards to law, QS World University Rankings listed UBC as second in terms of employer reputation, even ahead of U of T and slightly behind McGill.
MacLean’s on the other hand listed UBC as the 5th best reputation in Canada, both for number of Supreme Court Clerkships as well as elite firm hires. This appears to be slightly conflicting, but overall, it’s obvious that UBC Law has quite a good reputation.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 8.5/10
UBC is an incredibly fun school. The campus is stunning (making our most beautiful campuses in Canada list) and alumni consistently rave about how much fun they have. The school has all the clubs and societies needed as well as having ten international fraternities making it one the most highly “fraternized” in Canada. Despite this, according to the Globe and Mail student satisfaction survey, UBC got ok reviews for campus atmosphere, student residence, and city satisfaction. We have our doubts on these results.
VALUE – 9/10
Although UBC isn’t as good of a buy as McGill if you are from Quebec, it is still very good when considering the quality of education and reputation. It’s undergraduate JD program costs $11003.52 in its first year before decreasing in subsequent years. It’s masters degree is $4290.88 a year making it cheaper than out of province McGill students.
QUALITY OF EDUCATION – 10/10
University of Toronto law may very well have the best quality of education in Canada for law. It is ranked number 1 in Canada in the QS World University Rankings, including the highest score when it came to academic reputation. Furthermore, it had the higher citation per paper score as well which further contributes to it being ranked 21st best in the world. This cannot be overlooked!
Moreover, MacLean’s also ranked U of T as the best common law university in Canada, also indicating that it’s faculty is the most cited in Canada. This is even more impressive when considering it was ranked 7 in terms of national reach, which we believe to be an irrelevant metric. To put the icing on the cake, the Times Higher Education World University rankings ranked U of T first in Canada, and 17th in the world for the Arts and Humanities. Due to all of the information listed above, it is fairly well known that University of Toronto offers the best quality of education for law in Canada and due to this, it secures U of T’s spot as one of the best law schools in Canada.
REPUTATION – 9.5/10
University of Toronto has arguably the best reputation in Canada as a whole, including according to the Times Higher Times World University Reputation rankings. It was also ranked 17th in the world in terms of reputation, thus you have to consider the value of a U of T degree. More specifically though, U of T faired 3rd best in Canada for employer reputation according to QS World University Rankings, ranking below McGill and UBC, but far above any other law school in Canada.
Despite this ranking, MacLean’s ranked U of T as the best ranked law school for elite firm hire in Canada and second for Surpreme Court Clerkships. All of this clearly points towards University of Toronto law having a very stellar reputation.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 7/10
The University of Toronto can be what you make it. Given its large campus situated in the core of the largest city in Canada, the university life is largely based on the city itself as opposed to many smaller universities that have more a community feel. If you like crowds, big cities, and lots of options outside of the university campus, this university is great for you. However, the feel is largely similar to living downtown after graduation so it doesn’t really offer a unique university experience. As a result, the ranking here is comparatively low. It also was ranked fairly middle of the pack according to the Globe and Mail with regards to residence and campus atmosphere but proved very poorly for work-play balance.
VALUE – 7/10
University of Toronto may very well be the best Law establishment in Canada, however, it is not cheap. It’s tuition far exceeds that of UBC and McGill at $29257. As such, the value may not be as good as other universities in Canada but given its quality and reputation, it is still a far better buy than going south of the border.
Université de Montréal – Faculté de droit
QUALITY OF EDUCATION – 7.5/10
Although it doesn’t compare too closely with UBC, McGill or U of T with many of the metrics in the QS World University Law rankings, it is still ranked in the top 150 in the world and 6th in Canada. As well, it actually had an incredibly high score for number of citations per paper, putting tying it for first in Canada with U of T as well as having the 6th highest rank for academic reputation.
MacLean’s consistently ranked it the best civil law school in Canada until 2010 at which point McGill has always ranked number one, and University of Montreal ranking number 2. The main reason for the drop is likely because the number of Supreme Court Clerkships out of this university compared to University of Ottawa and McGill however this alone still wouldn’t be enough to surpass McGill. Nonetheless, MacLean’s still ranks this school very highly.
Similar to McGill, one aspect of University of Montreal Law that provides an advantage over most universities is its bilingual opportunities by offering bilingual degrees. However, unlike McGill, University of Montreal does not offer any degrees in common law with the exception of an undergrad degree that allows them to take the bar in other provinces.
REPUTATION – 6/10
Seeing as how University of Montreal focuses on civil law, it has a good reputation nationally as well as internationally. In Canada, it ranked second in elite firm hire according to MacLean’s magazine. That being said, it’s reputation is worse than that of many other schools on this last as well as schools that didn’t even make this list. As such, the reputation of this school is rather mediocre. Furthermore, University of Montreal didn’t even make the Times Higher Education top 100 most reputable universities list, further diminishing its reputation. That being said, it is still one of the best laws schools in Canada and if you’re looking for civil law and didn’t get into McGill, this is probably your best bet.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 6.5/10
The university’s main campus is located on the northern slope of Mont-Royal in the Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges boroughs in Montreal. As such, Montreal provides many nightlife opportunities for students. That being said, the university is very large and as such doesn’t have the community feel a lot of other universities have. That being said, most universities on this list fall in this category. The campus also isn’t known as a particularly fun nor beautiful.
VALUE – 8.5/10
Being in Quebec, the tuition is very cheap. For an out of province student, the masters degree is just $2929.05 and just $1033.90 for Quebec students, making this by far the cheapest university. That being said, it’s reputation is not as great as many others. Nevertheless, this is still terrific value since you’d be getting a good law masters degree for less than $3000.
Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
QUALITY OF EDUCATION – 8/10
I am not sure what it is with Queen’s and Western, but the QS World University Ratings always rank Queen’s low for all of its rankings (law or not). Queen’s scored the lowest out of any university in Canada that made the top 200 law schools in Canada, as well as with academic reputation (not surprisingly below Western). Oddly enough though, Queen’s had a remarkably high number of citations per paper, ranking it fourth in Canada
However, despite this, MacLean’s ranked Queen’s quite high by ranking it 3rd in Canada for common law, moving up from fourth the year before. With regards to citations, MacLean’s ranked it third in Canada. Given the difference in results, we opted to compromise a bit. We did find it strange though that for a university with a bad reputation, its papers were very widely cited since we would assume a pretty strong correlation between the two.
REPUTATION – 8/10
The QS World University Rankings ranked Queen’s 4th in Canada for Employer Reputation. This again contradicts MacLean’s, but this time in the opposite way since MacLean’s ranked Queen’s as 12th in Canada in terms of elite firm hire. That being said it came 4th for Supreme Court Clerkships.
That being said, Queen’s is known to have an overall great reputation and is considered one of the most prestigious universities in Canada. Again, we are forced to compromise to come up with this ranking.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 8.5/10
What separates Queen’s from other universities on this list is the fact that it is a tremendously fun university. Sure U of T and McGill are in large, fun cities, the general university life at Queen’s is widely regarded as one of the best in Canada, especially for such a good school. Queen’s Frosh week and Homecomings are famous, and despite being in a smaller city like Kingston, the town is very well suited as a university city.
VALUE – 7/10
The value of the Queen’s degrees is not that great. Its masters degree costs $6258.00 while its undergrad costs $16.125.00 which makes the undergraduate degree one of the more expensive ones in Canada, but that is consistent with most of Queen’s undergraduate degrees. However, its masters degree is competitively priced making this of fairly good value!
York University – Osgoode Hall Law School
QUALITY OF EDUCATION – 8.5/10
QS World University Rankings ranked York University’s law school (Osgoode Hall) as the fourth best in Canada and in the top 100 in the world. Included in this, York was 4th best when it came to academic reputation and 7th best in Canada for citations per paper. If this wasn’t enough to believe that Osgoode Hall is one of the best law schools in Canada, there’s more. MacLean’s has consistently ranked Osgoode Hall as the second best law school in Canada by having a well rounded rating in all the metrics but also by having the second best faculty citation score. As such, York U undoubtedly has an excellent level of education.
REPUTATION – 7.5/10
York U is pretty well known for having good graduate degrees and this is no different for law. Its graduates were the 7th most hired into faculty in Canada and the QS World University Rankings ranked it as having the 6th best employer reputation in Canada. Despite this, MacLean’s ranked it in the middle of the pack for elite firm hires and Supreme Court Clerkships, making it rather mediocre in that sense. Despite this, it has a pretty good reputation.
UNIVERSITY LIFE – 5/10
One area where York University is not particularly well regarded for is the university life. Due to the immense size of the university, as well as it’s relatively undesirable location (being somewhat north of Toronto), York U’s university life is widely considered to be the worst in Canada. As well, the crime rate at York U is also quite high compared to other Canadian universities. That being said, there are a lot of school communities and activities to get involved in. Additionally, due to its very diverse student population, this is a particularly easy university to adapt to for foreign students.
VALUE – 8/10
The cost per year for their LLM degrees is $1848.23 which is great but the JD undergraduate program is $20564.28 which is rather expensive. However, when combined with the quality of education, this is of pretty good value.
As explained above, all of these criteria are weighed so our finally score may not reflect what you need so please read the entire article. That being said, our final score of the best law schools in Canada is below:
Honourable Mentions (rounding out the top 10)
University of Dalhousie: Ranked in 9th in Canada according to the QS University Rankings and 6th in Canada according to MacLean’s, it is a well rounded law school.
University of Alberta: Ranked 8th in MacLean’s but unranked in the QS rankings, U of A has a joint JD/MBA program.
University of Victoria: Ranked 7th in Canada according to QS University Rankings as well as MacLean’s, it has a unique co-op program.
University of Ottawa: Ranked 11th in Canada according to MacLean’s for common law and 3rd for Civil law and 6th in Canada according to QS, U of O is great in research.