Ontario

Canada View From Up North Many judges suffer from a grave condition called T.S.S. (Tightened Sphincter Syndrome). You don’t have to conduct an intimate examination of a judge’s nether regions to determine if he/she has T.S.S. You can pretty much guess from the symptoms: constant grumpiness, a dour expression, words chosen to make onlookers feel the immense gravity of court proceedings, decisions pronounced as if only a fool would dare appeal them, etc., etc.

Sadly, T.S.S. is not fatal, but it does make everyone who comes into contact with an infected judge feel flu-like symptoms.

Justice Joseph Quinn of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice does not suffer from T.S.S. Whatever the opposite of T.S.S. is, this dude (and I say “dude” with the highest respect) has it. Take this sentence from his epic ruling in The Hearing Clinic (Niagara Falls) Inc. v. 866073 Ontario Limited: “Fridriksson has taken everyone on a hideously time-consuming and obscenely expensive journey down his private yellow brick road to the outskirts of the Emerald City where, it appears, he has a residence. It was not a worthwhile adventure.”

Find me another judge who invokes The Wizard of Oz to stick a broomstick up a deserving plaintiff’s butt. This case is delicious for so many reasons….

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I have a great strategy for passing the bar: write it in Ontario. The Law Society of Upper Canada (our governing body) doesn’t publish official statistics, but it is anecdotally reported that 90% of takers pass in Ontario. Contrast that with New York, where approximately 30 to 40% of takers fail in any given year. That’s a bloodbath.

The system has changed a bit since I wrote, but let me take you back in time to 2002. I had just graduated from Queen’s law school in picturesque Kingston, Ontario. I then had to face something called Bar School. That’s four months of sitting in a stifling classroom during the beautiful and inviting months of May, June, July, and August. Don’t feel bad for me — you’ll see why in a second….

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I recently received an email from an old friend asking for advice on behalf of a relative who is thinking about applying to law school. I was about to respond with a warning about the dangers of taking on massive student loans to get a degree that just might put you on the fast track to unemployment, but then I reread the email and noticed that the young woman in question is thinking about applying to law schools in Canada (she’s Canadian).

O Canada! Their legal education system is different — and, by some accounts, better than ours. At least if you define “better” in terms of “better at getting law school graduates into legal jobs.”

But could things up north be changing — for the worse, eh?

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