Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why You Should Apply to Law School

On three separate days, Omar Ha-Redeye met with undergraduate students at the University of Western Ontario to talk to them about why they should apply to law school.

On Monday, Sept. 22, 2008 he spoke to the Black Law Students Association.

On Tuesday, he met with the African Students Association.

On Wednesday, he met with the Caribbean Students Organization.

Omar is the President of the Black Law Students Association at the University of Western Ontario.

The group is a chapter of a larger organization, the Black Law Students Association of Canada (BLSAC), which raises awareness around issues of advocacy relating to minority populations in Canada.

A special thanks to Craig Cameron, Ugbad Farah, and Carly McLarty for making this possible.

Full text of the speech is as follows:

Why ALL of you should apply to law school

My goal today is to convince all of you here today that you should continue your education beyond your undergraduate degree, and that the legal profession is what you should pursue.

What I love best about the law is the ability to challenge and break down stereotypes. For example, Canadians generally overestimate the number of minorities that have committed a crime, which is usually lower than the general population.

However, the 1995 Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System stated, it is no secret that "black accused, for example, are more often held without bail".

The need for advocates to fight this subtle yet pervasive form of discrimination is pressing indeed.

Maybe Criminal law isn't your thing.

A recent survey indicated that the average salary in Canada was just over $36,000.

The jobs that required a high school education a generation ago now require a bachelor's degree. The opportunities simply are just not there for recent university graduates without professional and advanced degrees.

Lawyers and legal professionals ranked the highest out of all careers in Canada, with an average of $123,000 for lawyers and $178,053 for judges. Only specialist physicians made slightly more.

But medical schools in Canada are swarmed with applications. There are only 2,400 positions a year across Canada, but there has been a 20% increase in applications recently. Only 0.5% of applicants to McMaster University and 6% at UWO are accepted.

If you have a science background and thought that your only alternative to med school was graduate research, you're wrong. One of the booming areas of law is intellectual property, and lawyers in this field almost always have a science or engineering background before law school.

That doesn't mean getting into law school is easy though. You do need a strong undergraduate GPA, and have to worry about this pesky test called the LSAT.

But it's worth it, unless you are completely content with the status of minority people in Canada.  A legal career allows you to pursue professional goals while maintaining an advocacy role within society.

And because the law affects nearly everything we do, there are areas of law that are of interest to everyone.

Fred Rodell, a former professor at Yale, wrote back in 1939, in a book entitled "Woe unto you lawyers,"

It is the lawyers who run our civilization for us - our governments, our business, our private lives. Most legislators are lawyers; they make our laws. Most presidents, governors, commissioners, along with their advisers and brain-trusters are lawyers; they administer our laws. All the judges are lawyers; they interpret and enforce our laws. There is no separation of powers where the lawyers are concerned. There is only a concentration of all government power - in the lawyers. As the schoolboy put it, ours is "a government of lawyers, not of men."

It is not the businessmen, no matter how big, who run our economic world. Again it is the lawyers, the lawyers who "advise" and direct every time a company is formed, every time a bond or a share of stock is issued, almost every time material is to be bought or goods to be sold, every time a deal is made. The whole elaborate structure of industry and finance is a lawyer-made house. We all live in it, but the lawyers run it.

And in our private lives, we cannot buy a home or rent an apartment, we cannot get married or try to get divorced, we cannot die and leave our property to our children without calling on the lawyers to guide us. To guide us, incidentally, through a maze of confusing gestures and formalities that lawyers have created.

A legal career is not only the smart move in tomorrow's volatile markets, it's the right one.

The deadline for law school applications in Ontario is Nov. 3, just over a month from now. You still have time to prepare your application and get it in.

And if you need any help reviewing or planning your application, please feel free to contact me.

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