Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Personal Statements for the Class of 2017

A lot has changed since 2014. In the United States, a black president passed the baton to a white nationalist; in Canada, Stephen Harper gave way to the international heart throb that is Justin Trudeau. Gay marriage became legal in eighteen more American states, while Pope Francis officially endorsed evolution and the Big Bang Theory. We welcomed Justin Bieber back into our hearts after he pushed us to ask difficult questions such as, “What do you mean?” and “Is it too late now to say sorry?” Finally, and most significantly, Kylie Jenner’s lips spontaneously emerged in all of their spectacular glory.

I know what you’re thinking: The emergence of Kylie Jenner’s lips was truly inspiring, but how has the Class of 2017 changed since 2014, when they first applied to law school? Did they follow their childhood dreams? Have they cultivated their passions? Did they all sell out and go corporate?

Find out the answers to these questions and more by reading the following excerpts from the personal statements of members of the graduating Class of 2017, paired with updates on their post-grad plans.

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I want to root out the injustices and inefficiencies of our legal system and find new ways to deal with problems such as police violence, the persecution of marginalized groups, and the problems of free speech and its suppression… Using the resources available, whether it be from the Asper Centre or IHRP, I want to involve myself in constitution and precedent building in developing countries–largely in the Middle East and North Africa–before finding a place for myself within the nexus of human rights, constitutional law, and public policy in Canada, applying tested practices to regional and national problems.

This students feels that he checked off most of the boxes that he set up for himself when he applied to law school, including getting involved with the IHRP and the Asper Centre, and working in constitutional law both in Kenya and Canada. For him, law school also ignited an interest in Aboriginal and Indigenous Law. He plans to begin articling at a mid-size civil litigation firm in Vancouver.

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Lawyers are constantly engaging their minds. They dissect facts and scrutinize the application of the law to these facts. Lawyers make a difference in the world. Our political system can make laws just, but our justice system applies these laws. Lawyers sustain our justice system by guiding and advocating for their clients. I believe that a career in law would allow me to say, “I enjoy my job, and I am good at it.”

This student has realized that he hates studying law because he hates reading, and he also hates writing. However, he has found opportunities through school to continue his public interest advocacy work, including for human rights. Upon graduation, he will begin articling at the Ministry of the Attorney General.

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My goal after attending law school is to work as a defense attorney with an emphasis on Charter right infringement cases. I want to engage with criminal justice and advance Canadian law both by representing clients whose rights have been violated, and through critical analysis of the interaction between the Charter and the Criminal Code. Charter cases would allow me not only to stand up for the freedoms of my client, but also to interface with criminal law as a whole and influence it in a more ethical direction for all Canadians.

This student has realized that criminal law is a lot more “drive from courthouse to courthouse” than it is “changing the law and saving lives with balloons and ribbons.” Nevertheless, criminal law is still his passion. While he does not yet have an articling position lined up, he is hoping to go into criminal defense, and to gain exposure to appellate and constitutional work as well.

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My experience leading the campus team promoting a sexual-assault free campus, as well as my work with at risk youth, cognitively impaired older adults, diverse populations, and young university minds has reinforced my desire to advocate for these vulnerable populations either on an individual basis or through policy. It is my view that the most effective place for me to promote action for their benefit is through a legal lens. Engaging in my community in a meaningful way, for the benefit of my own personal growth and for those in need continues to be my lifelong goal.

This student will article at a family law boutique in Toronto. She hopes to use the skills she develops there to assist lower income individuals with family law issues.

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I wasn’t the most popular student in my fourth-year human rights seminar. During one discussion that revolved around bringing Muammar Gaddafi and his aides to justice, I argued that, regardless of the magnitude of the crimes, upholding essential aspects of the law such as due process should be prioritized over punishing the human rights abusers, lest we engage in a medieval-style witch hunt. Even the professor proceeded to cast a curious glance my way.

This student will be articling at a criminal defence firm, where he hopes to continue fighting for due process and strategically offending people.

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Poverty law and policy is interesting to me because it allows me to engage in interdisciplinary explorations of multiple perspectives, and I am beginning to see real world implications of policies… A legal education would give me the opportunity to explore a variety of issues in a variety of ways and to utilize the critical thinking and problem solving skills I have developed.  

This student is excited to continue dabbling in multiple perspectives while articling at a full service Bay Street firm.

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I plan to become a human rights lawyer with my JD. Most of my studies, volunteerism, and professional experiences have been related to misogyny and social injustices against women. I can see myself working at the international level with the United Nations or Human Rights Watch, addressing human rights violations such as sexual violence and human trafficking

This student will be articling with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Crown Law Office Criminal, focusing on sexual assault prosecutions and domestic violence policy work. Although now unsure about how exactly one becomes an “international human rights lawyer,” she still intends to find out!

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Upon graduating from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, I plan to pursue a career specializing in employment and labour law… My initial interest in the field of employment was sparked by a family experience. While still in primary school, my mother was on and off work due to recurring serious health issues. Despite the advice of her doctor to not return to work, her insurance company ultimately refused her disability claim. Although it took several years, it was with the help of an excellent employment lawyer that my family was able to obtain a fair and just settlement. As a lawyer, I believe that I too can help families achieve closure and a fair settlement, and work towards the fair and equitable treatment of all workers.

This student has remained true to her personal statement. After graduation, she plans to begin a union-side labour position. She is happy to report that she has now learned difference between labour and employment law.