What we can teach our High School Students

Tomorrow is take your Grade 9 to work day. Our firm is participating and looking forward to exposing a student to the reality of what being a lawyer is: it’s not all Courtrooms & cross examinations, they will learn there is a fair amount of “boring desk work” involved.

I frequently have the privilege of working with High School students interested in a career in law. Many of these students are interested due to the dollar signs in their eyes – they see a large income at the end of the road, I see a huge student loan debt and fear for them.

Last week I heard someone remark that Law School is becoming the new Teacher’s College (you’ll recall they are reducing the numbers graduating due to lack of demand for teachers). I agree with that statement, but pointed out that Law is even more difficult as it is not just Canadian Law Schools that are pumping out more lawyers into the workforce than are “needed”. Foreign trained lawyers (often Canadian students who were not accepted to Canadian schools) flood our system as well – we simply have too many lawyers seeking to work in Canada.

When I speak to students I am honest about the above and the huge student loan debt that can result from a Law degree. I believe that a Law degree is out of reach for the average student these days – the costs are just too large to overcome.

At the end of the day I believe we need to teach our High School Students that a Law Degree is not a guaranteed path to riches and you should not be pursuing the degree if your only motivation is a huge paycheque. The students need to be told they may have a crushing student debt and limited job prospects. This is only fair.

In order to solve the above problem I believe we should have only one way of becoming a lawyer in Ontario: go to a Canadian law school. This will limit the number of new lawyers entering the workforce each year and ensure that people are able to work in the profession they are educated in.

Inga B. Andriessen JD