Ranking Canada’s law schools - Macleans.ca

Ranking Canada’s law schools

They’re all hard to get into. Which one will you get the most out of?

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In its third annual ranking of Canadian law schools, Maclean’s assessed each institution against recognized measures of faculty quality and of how well graduates do in the workplace. In all, we sought to answer two questions. Are a law school’s professors significant contributors to the intellectual life of their discipline? And do a law school’s graduates land the most sought-after jobs in government, the private sector and academia?

For the third year in a row, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law takes the top spot. McGill Faculty of Law also maintains its second-place position for the third year running, but this year it shares that spot with Osgoode Hall Law School, which last year ranked third.

All of the data used in the Maclean’s law rankings are publicly available. All focus on law school outputs. Fifty per cent of the overall ranking is determined by faculty quality, and 50 per cent by graduate quality. The four measures of graduate quality look at the success each law school has had producing graduates able to land the most competitive jobs. The indicators are:

Elite Firm Hiring: Maclean’s calculated how many of each school’s graduates are serving as associates at law firms on Lexpert’s list of the largest firms in nine Canadian regions, or at one of the five leading New York firms, according to the employment website Vault. This was done by examining the online biographies of thousands of lawyers at dozens of law firms. To scale this measure to each school, the tally was divided by first-year class size, averaged over the past three years. This measure is worth 20 per cent.

National Reach: This indicator, based on the Elite Firm Hiring measure, is worth 10 per cent. It measures the proportion of each law school’s grads at leading firms who are working at firms other than the three that hired the most grads from this school. It’s a measure of the extent to which leading firms outside a school’s region hire its graduates.

Supreme Court Clerkships: A measure of how many of a school’s graduates have served as clerks at the Supreme Court of Canada. There are 27 clerks each year; it is one of the most competitive positions open to graduates. Maclean’s looked at the last six years’ worth of clerks. As with the other measures of graduate quality, the tally was divided by each school’s average first-year enrolment.

Next page: Which law school is on top?


Faculty Hiring: Worth 10 per cent, this indicator looks at how many of a school’s graduates are professors at Canadian law schools, with extra weight given to grads hired by faculties other than their alma mater.

Faculty Journal Citations: In this measure of faculty quality, worth 50 per cent, Maclean’s employed the HeinOnline database of legal periodicals. The search included citations in international publications as well as Canadian journals in order to reflect the reality of a globalized academy. The number of citations recorded by each faculty member was measured; the tally for each school was then divided by the size of its faculty.

There are 16 common law schools and five civil law schools in Canada. Common and civil law schools are ranked separately, but evaluated according to the same criteria.

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The methodology behind the Maclean’s law school ranking was created in co-operation with professor Brian Leiter, the John P. Wilson Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago. The data were compiled by researchers Sally Brown and Emily Heppner. Ranking on each indicator and overall rank was determined using the statistical percentile method that Maclean’s has long employed in our annual university rankings. Our statistician was Hong Chen, of MacDougall Scientific Ltd. Statistical Consultants.