Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Personal Statements For The Class of 2016

Lisana Nithiananthan (3L)

Barack Obama is re-elected for his second term as POTUS. Vladimir Putin is elected President of Russia (again). Mr. Harper led our country for the sixth year. JT had just launched his much-speculated-about bid for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. Facebook went public and its initial share price was $38. The LA Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. The summer Olympics took place in the rainiest of places. Felix Baumgartner jumped from 127,000 feet, all the way back to earth.

While 2012 was notable for many things, for the Class of 2016 it was the year we applied to law school. We were idealistic, inspired, and driven Type As. And, if Professor Alarie is to be believed, we were collectively THE best group of individuals assembled to ever attend this prestigious institution. He was basing that assessment in part on our personal statements. What exactly did we say about ourselves? What ambitions did we have? How much have we changed in these three years at law school? Did we stick to our guns? The following are excerpts from the personal statements of members of the graduating class of 2016 paired with updates on their post-grad plans.

My objective in attending U of T law is to become a defense attorney. I believe U of T can provide the best training for a career in criminal law. I am particularly interested in the clinical criminal law program offered at Downtown Legal Services. This program offers a unique opportunity to gain real world experience and skills, and I am eager to take advantage of this opportunity. Long-term, I envision a career where I can balance the practice of law with academia. Therefore, on completion of my JD, I plan to obtain an LLM, focusing on the points of intersection between law and history. In particular, I am interested in the history of criminal trials and the evolution of legal precedent. However, I would like to establish myself as a defense attorney before taking on additional academic pursuits.

Although he did participate in the DLS criminal law clinic, he will not be working as a criminal defence attorney and is not planning on doing an LLM. This student will be articling at a mid-size firm, with plans of starting a career in litigation.


I hope to use my law degree to help people know, understand, and protect their rights. Specifically, I would like to aid individuals of low socioeconomic status and those who cannot advocate for themselves. I am interested in pursuing these goals and my legal education at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. I believe doing so will provide me with unmatched exposure to diversity. The differing perspectives of students, faculty, and alumni will present me with numerous outlets for learning.

This student admits she has yet to experience diversity and differing perspectives at this corporate, big law focused school. However, she is looking forward to experiencing the diversity (in legal practice fields) she sought at U of T while she articles at a small firm outside the GTA.


I hope to be able to use the study of law to ensure the success of creative work and advocate on behalf of artists. Through the experiences I have had in the field, it has become clear that legal education is needed to assist in the navigation of complex and sometimes opaque laws. The diligence necessary for maximizing creative control, the precision necessary for protecting the artist’s interests and the knowledge necessary for anticipating future obstacles are requirements of the lawyer, not the artist.

This student will be working at a Bay Street firm that has a significant entertainment law practice.


[I]immersing myself in the culture of journalism has shaped me into an inquisitive, sharply critical thinker suffused with, I hope, a sparsely elegant writing style. These qualities, gained from my experience in journalism, will allow me to approach my legal education from a different perspective and will make me a valuable addition to the class of 2013/14.

This student indulged his journalist tendencies at U of T but ultimately he will be articling at a large Bay Street firm that specializes in corporate M&A and securities. He understands he has totally sold out, but after three years of law school, he cannot find the strength to care.


Throughout my teen years, I told people that I wanted to become a lawyer and that I specifically wanted to work in a field such as family law or child advocacy…

True to her word, this student will be articling with the Ministry of the Attorney General-Office of the Children’s Lawyer.


My first contact with the legal world occurred at the age of eight days. While not voluntary, I was brought into a binding religious agreement which offered little room for contractual negotiations. Considering the terms, I could have benefitted at least physically, from the presence of some legal counsel. Since then I have been working towards my dream of becoming a lawyer.

Although this student did not express what he wanted to do with his JD, he thought the whole idea of becoming a lawyer was cool. After graduation he will be working at a Bay Street firm.


…persecution, lawlessness, justice and human rights. These words resonated with me, in part, because of my own family history. … I am determined to help others in their struggle to persevere and reclaim their rights. I decided to pursue a law degree in order to further equip myself with the tools necessary to help others in a meaningful and lasting way.

Living her dreams. This student will be splitting her articling year between the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in South Africa and a renowned refugee lawyer in Toronto.


As my team and I prepared to go to (mock) trial, I researched cases, worked on rebuttals, primed clients, and wrote my opening statement. I increasingly entertained the idea of actually doing this for a living. On trial day, we arrived at the courthouse and took our seats in the court room. As an attorney, I was caught off-guard by the sheer number of objections I was interrupted with during my cross-examination. The team of defendants objected to most of my questions and I barely made headway with the examination. Needless to say, I was dejected in the subsequent proceedings. We lost the competition but did not dwell on it. I decided to take this loss and learn from it. I knew that I had to work on my ability to recover from an interruption and I set out to do that, practicing my recovery tactics.

This student did a complete 180. While she will be working in criminal litigation, she will be on the defence side. The 2013 version of this student would be very amused with herself.


[I will be] focusing on transactions involving international business and intellectual property.

This student will not be working with IP or copyright law. He will become a public servant, articling at MAG, Ministry of Economic Development/Research & Innovation/Energy.


I fear the future effects of unbounded environmental degradation, exorbitant pollution and global climate change. I fear the effects that an increasingly industrialized, urbanized and globalized world will wreck on these untouched preservations of nature which have affected me so deeply. To write frankly, the notion that future Canadians might be denied the opportunity to experience their wilderness in this manner is nothing short of disgusting. Therein lies my interest in the study of law. I perceive the most effective means of pursuing conservation as being through legislation and regulation.

This student will not be practicing environmental law. He will be articling at the largest full-service firm in Canada. He loved all insurance defence and municipal planning work he has done.


With a legal education, not only can I gain the capacity to write the laws that influence governance, I can bring legal skills to further use in the social sectors I am interested in, to help families and individuals through means such as advocacy, research, and client services.

During her articles, this student will be working on policy development and legislative projects at MAG.


I am drawn to the study of law because I seek a career that will allow me to advocate for individuals and organizations. The University of Toronto’s rigorous academic curriculum, opportunities for student involvement, and philosophy of practice-based learning stimulates my intellectual curiosity and propensity for community impact while complementing my desire for outside-the-classroom experiences.

This student will be pursing her interest in corporate law while articling at one of the Seven Sisters.


I am looking for a Law School experience that will feed my academic curiosity as well as afford opportunities to engage in hands-on applications of what I learn. I would aim to contribute to and take advantage of co-curricular and extra-curricular life at [NAME OF SCHOOL] through academic journal writing, competitive mooting, and legal clinic work.

Upon graduation, this student will be clerking at the Ontario Court of Appeal, then clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada. Following his clerkship he hopes to pursue a practice in civil and criminal litigation and perhaps graduate school.


Given my personal and academic interest in the global crises of poverty, human rights abuses and environmental degradation, I believe I would be well suited to a career with the United Nations and other international and humanitarian organizations. With my background in IR, a J.D. from the University of Toronto would provide me with the legal knowledge and tools necessary to pursue a career in international law.

This self-branded U of T sellout will be articling at one of the Seven Sisters and sees himself practicing law in the corporate law world for the foreseeable future.


…I have worked in a library, in an archive, in an art gallery, and as a research assistant, gleaning from each experience a growing sense of the importance of responsible archival stewardship, the demand for scholarly research online, the exciting potential yet to be unlocked by digital technologies for the study of the humanities, and also a sense of the yet-murky legal terrain upon which many digital projects have set their foundations.

This student will be articling at a boutique IP and civil litigation firm that prides itself on its unconventional, ‘avant-garde’ approach to IP. The 2013 version of this student would be very pleased.


… I wish to practice in the public interest sector. I will work to secure justice for racialized and LGBT communities, and for new immigrants, refugees, and temporary foreign workers facing discrimination, disparities in access, and exploitation. I hope to work in legal aid and direct services for those who lack access, conduct litigation in refugee and immigration law (particularly in employment opportunities, conditions, and compensation), human rights (on cases of discrimination and barriers to access for racial and sexual minorities, in Canada and internationally), or youth criminal defence (to break the school-to-prison pipeline for youth from marginalized backgrounds).

This student will be articling at one of the Seven Sister firms.


This is between me and the trier of fact, though I know the opposing counsel is watching, hoping for a mistake. I glance down at my closing statement again, nearly covered in penned notes during the course of the trial. Every little weakness, every inconsistency in the Defence’s case, is there. Every smart turn of phrase I could think of, hoping that each little bit will help. It is here, at this very moment, while my hands are shaking and I take a deep breath, while I am preparing to take a theoretical concept of morality and wield it like a blade, that I realize: There is no place I’d rather be.

This student has remained true to her words. She will be articling with a civil litigation firm.


To study law at the University of Toronto with a preference for insurance, corporate, administrative and business law would be ideal as Toronto is an epicentre for these sectors. This proximity would provide an excellent learning focus, yet there would be a coupling with the rich cultural environment found at this historic school.

Post grad, this student will be articling at a large business law firm in Toronto. She will be involved in insurance and corporate litigation work.


…a degree and a career in law would allow me to work directly with clients and be able to, in some small way, affect their lives for the better. I am applying to the program because of its location in the most dynamic city in Canada, one in which many newcomers come to build a home. I am particularly interested in immigration and refugee law, international humanitarian law, and the concept of restorative justice. My dream is to work either as a lawyer serving the refugee community in Canada or else as part of an international organization like Amnesty International.

It’s possible to follow your dreams! This student will be articling at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, which specializes in providing refugee and family law assistance to women who have experienced domestic violence.