The change in the application deadline meant hopeful U of C law school students had to have registered to write the LSAT by early August.
John McDonald/the Gauntlet

Law school changes deadline

U of C law school moves up application deadline by four months

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Are you an aspiring University of Calgary law student? Then you better have already written the LSAT.

The U of C law school has moved their application deadline forward from Feb. to Nov. 1 starting this year. The move means potential law students must have written the law school admissions test no later than Sep. 29.

"The main problem was we were behind compared to other schools in Canada," said U of C law school director of admission Keith Yamauchi. "When we sent offers out to students, they were turning us down because they had already accepted somewhere else."

In western Canada, the U of C joined only Manitoba in the Nov. 1 deadline. The University of Alberta's deadline falls in Dec., while the University of British Colombia, University of Victoria, and the University of Saskatchewan all maintain Feb. 1 deadlines.

The move surprised many U of C students returning to school in September. Candidates must register six weeks in advance of their sitting to write the LSAT, meaning the last batch of U of C law applicants this year must have registered by early August.

The law school maintains enough warning was given.

"We put up notification on our website sometime in May," said Yamauchi, who mentioned that talks of the change took place as long ago as last fall. "Our website is where the whole application process begins. That's where you go to check the rules."

Despite that, a number of students were unaware of the change and blame the law school.

"They didn't give any thought to impact this would have on students planning to apply in February," said fourth-year english major and law school hopeful Ingrid Thiessen. "It leaves the impression that they don't really care because they accept so few."

Approximately nine per cent of applicants to the U of C law school will be accepted. The law school acknowledged while applicants might drop off, interest won't.

"This year the move might affect our numbers, but from this time forward it should remain the same," said Yamauchi. "Law schools are getting more applications than ever. Canadians are very interested in attending law school."

Thiessen remains disappointed.

"The website wasn't sufficient enough, just look at how many students got blind- sided by it," said Thiessen. "There should have been some form of accommodation."

Thiessen wasn't the only one angered by the abrupt change.

"I had no idea about the change until I saw the posters at the Renert centre," said fourth-year english major James Bartlett, who wrote the LSAT in Sep. and plans on applying to the U of C.

The Renert Centre, located in MacEwan Student Centre, offers an LSAT preparation course and put up signs warning students of the deadline change.

"It's tough for students who were banking on the U of C, but if they advertised the change on their website I think that's reasonable," said Bartlett.

For their part, the law school said they felt the website notification was all they could do.

"It comes down to fairness," said Yamauchi. "The U of C isn't the only school we draw students from. If we had sent out an e-mail to all students it would have been prejudicial to the U of C applicants."

Some students continue to disagree.

"They didn't want to disadvantage anyone, so they help no one," said Thiessen, who has registered to write the LSAT in Dec.

The news is especially hard for Thiessen, a mother of four who does not want her studies to disrupt her family.

"It's forced me to make a decision of whether to do a post-graduate degree or to work for a year, so it's messed up my timeline," said Thiessen. "I can't move. I refuse to uproot my family, so U of C is my only choice."

The law school maintained only minimum complaints have been made.

"We have received a couple of e-mails about it," said Yamauchi, although he reminded students that the info- rmation appeared on the website in May.

The deadline move to attract and facilitate the most qualified students coincides with Maclean's magazine's first-ever ranking of Canadian law schools, which placed the U of C 15 out of 16 schools. The rankings hinge mostly upon the level of success achieved by the graduates of each school, such as the prestige of the firm by which they were hired.

"We have some issues with respect to [Maclean's] methodology," said Yamauchi, who felt the university has and will continue to attract good students. "The rankings have no bearings on our decisions."

The University of Toronto--which also has a Nov. 1 deadline--topped the Maclean's rankings. In fact, four of the top five schools were located in Ontario. The University of Alberta was the top western Canadian law school, ranked seventh overall.