Comparatively Not That Bad: Transfer Students on U of T Law

Kalyna Baziuk-Swaga – University of New Brunswick

It’s been an interesting couple of months, transferring from a small and tightly-knit law student community in Fredericton to the University of Toronto. My tuition may have tripled but, other than that, I’m thrilled with my time at U of T so far. The administration and Careers Office were wonderful from the moment I appeared at their door with a tentative course timetable and a million questions. My professors have been unfailingly engaged and passionate about the material. Toronto’s location and diverse legal community provide a range of extracurricular opportunities, from workshops to pro bono placements. The push to at least consider a career on Bay Street is present but not overwhelming, and I’m left with the impression that I’ll be supported by the faculty and my fellow students regardless of the area of law I choose to pursue. Finally, the rumours about U of T’s competitive atmosphere are greatly exaggerated. Every student I’ve spoken to has been friendly, even during the pressure-cooker of OCIs. The library is starting to feel a lot like home, and if that’s not a sign of a great transfer experience, I’m not sure what is.

Wes Dutcher-Walls – UC Berkeley

Since the point when I submitted all the application documents, the experience of transferring to U of T has been basically painless. Everyone, including the administration, has been very welcoming and helpful. In some ways, it’s been difficult for me to reflect much more on how the transfer was. In part, this is because of the new building here at U of T: as transfer students, we’re arriving at a time of transition and change for the whole law school community. The building is something that’s new, different, and a bit confusing for everyone, so it’s been nice to be in the same boat as everyone else in that regard. More importantly, it’s hard to think too much about being a transfer student because you can’t control for the variable of the huge difference between 1L and 2L. The former is truly a unique experience: a year-long phase of life during which you’re operating with this received idea of how competitive you have to be and how hard it all is, and everyone spends the whole year calibrating how hard they have to work and how hard they have to appear to be working. My bet is that my relief at getting to choose my courses, to be a bit less stingy with the time I spend on extracurriculars, and generally to simply feel more comfortable as a law student would make me a pretty happy camper even if I had transferred to a school that I liked less than I’m liking U of T. In short, I don’t really feel like a “Transfer Student,” so I guess that’s a success.

Meghan Zannese – University of Windsor

U of T has always been a home away from home for me. Having completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees here, it has been a place where I have grown and developed beyond my comfort zone, and the law school continues to be that place. It is my understanding that U of T is infamous for its cutthroat and demanding academic environment, but my interactions with students have been nothing short of welcoming. While the financial costs of being a U of T law student are quite high in comparison to my former school, I believe that they are worth it. I particularly sought to transfer for the location and large community, but also for the faculty’s vast course selection and practitioner-taught courses. I have also been given the opportunity to volunteer for Law Review and Downtown Legal Services, which enhance my involvement beyond the classroom. I have no negative comments on being a transfer student, and feel fortunate to be part of the U of T community again.

Cristian Combei – University of New Brunswick

My overall transfer experience has definitely been positive. Occupying prime real estate, our law faculty is ideally placed in the heart of a striking, cosmopolitan city. All the students with whom I have spoken have been nothing but inviting and gregarious. Professors are intelligent and well-spoken, and the new law building gives much-appreciated breathing room. One obvious drawback is the U of T price tag. However, it is to be expected based on the benefits gained. Additionally, the commute is a daily obstacle course of walking, bussing, and driving. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. U of T has been and is once more my alma mater, and Toronto my home.

Jessica Bishara – Queen’s University

My transfer experience started in August, before I had even stepped foot inside the Jackman Law Building, when I met my awesome 2L mentor for coffee. The Career Development Office also reached out to me before school started, asking whether I wanted to participate in the upcoming recruit process and generously fielding my many questions. I was fortunate to be able to begin day one at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law already feeling welcomed. If I were to draw a comparison between U of T and my prior school, tuition would be the obvious difference that comes to mind. Another distinction is that, at my old school, everyone lived near campus and within close proximity to each other, so social events happened frequently and a tight-knit community feel was tangible. Here, commuting is more common and students seem more dispersed, but it is definitely worth it to be situated in the heart of downtown Toronto. I feel privileged and excited to be here, and could not have asked for a better transfer experience.

Maria-Christina Christodoulou – Queen’s University

Despite really enjoying my time at my previous law school, coming back to the University of Toronto was important to me for many reasons. I was ecstatic when I got my acceptance phone call, but then it hit me: how on earth am I going to afford to pay almost three times the amount of tuition I am currently paying? On the surface, it seemed as though despite the fact that I was moving home and no longer paying for food, rent, utilities, or internet, tuition at the UofT Faculty of Law alone was going to be more money than tuition and all my living expenses at my previous school. Thankfully, this worry was short-lived. The financial aid from the Faculty was more than I expected, and with this aid, I am saving a significant amount of money being back home. So far, my experience as a transfer student has been nothing but positive. The people are welcoming, the building is beautiful, the faculty is excellent, and I am very happy to be here.