For students who intend to study law in Canada, this article is a comprehensive list of the top 20 universities to study law in Canada. The selections here are based on data collected by Times Higher Education Rankings, QS Ranking for Law and Legal Studies, as well as each institution’s global reputation and academic quality.
As a law aspirant or student, going to one of the best law schools in Canada should be your utmost priority. This is because these top-ranking law schools in Canada will prepare you for a successful law career after graduation.
Usually, the best universities in Canada offers dual degree options; thereby preparing the students for both Canadian and American laws. Due to the country’s friendly people, stunning natural beauty, and continuous academic growth and development, Canadian universities are also ranked in the league of best law schools in the world according to QS World Rankings.
Although most academic institutions offering law courses are located in urban areas of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, but there are wide range of universities spread across Canada offering law courses as well. Below are the top-ranking law schools in Canada.
1. University of Toronto
Coming first on the list of top law schools in Canada 2021 is the University of Toronto (U of T). Academic excellence is significant in the U of T as diverse ranking bodies usually place this institution ahead of others in the field of law. While Maclean’s does not publish its yearly law school ranking anymore, the University of Toronto consistently leads the list while it did.
U of T remains one of the prestigious law schools in Canada as it comes first in 2023 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools. Through its faculty of law, the University of Toronto offers programs in a wide range, which includes Legal Theory, Criminal Law, Business Law, Health Law, and more. The institution’s LL.M program in health law is ranked as one of the top 10 across the globe.
Students of the faculty of law at the University of Toronto are extremely diverse, highly educated, and deeply committed to justice, both within their communities and the world at large. U of T also keeps such standards of having the strongest (academically) law students in Canada.
2. McGill University
Ranked second in the 2023 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools and the subsequent year is another reputable law school in Canada for both local and international students. The McGill University Faculty of law is the oldest in Canada and often referred to as the ‘Harvard of the North’ due to its strong reputation.
McGill is one of the three universities in Quebec that offers some programs in English language. It is a prerequisite for undergraduates of law at McGill University to be (at least) passively bilingual in English and French (although LL.Ms at the university is excluded from this requirement). Some of the law courses offered at this institution includes Comparative Law, Environment Law, Air, and Space Law, etc.
3. University of British Columbia
With the third position in 2022 and 2023, the Allard School of Law at University British Columbia has consistently educated students, community leaders, and practicing lawyers for over seven decades.
International students wishing to study in an attractive location in Canada can now move on to scenic Vancouver where UBC is located on Canada’s west coast. The institution’s law program does not only provide the foundational training to students, it also helps them work through their requirements for practicing law across Canada. Some handy law programs offered at the University of British Columbia include Taxation and Common Law.
4. University of Montreal
Another prestigious university in Canada that has been constantly coming first in the QS Canadian civil law schools is the University of Montreal. However, since 2017 the university has dropped on the list thereby making fourth on the 2023 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools.
French-speaking international students wanting to bag a law degree in Canada can proceed to the University of Montreal. This institution makes itself an interesting option with its range of French language law programs. Amazingly, the institution also has courses like Business Law for English speakers.
5. University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa Faculty of law was ranked seventh in 2017 and moved two steps up in the 2023 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools. The oldest and largest bilingual university in Canada has a good number of amazing law courses; some in English, some in French, while others are mixed.
The University of Ottawa offers courses like International Trade and Investment Law, Notarial Law (French only), Global Sustainability and Environmental Law, and more. One great merit of studying law at the University of Ottawa is that students study at the nation’s capital city, which implies a series of networking opportunities in both business and government.
6. York University
Ranked sixth on the 2023 QS Rankings for Canadian Law Schools is the Osgoode Hall law school at the prestigious York University. The Osgoode Hall law school offers a diverse, rigorous, and forward-looking curriculum, which prepares students for a wide range of careers in law.
Following its establishment in 1889, this law school has maintained its position as one of the top law schools in Canada. At the moment, the institution offers a wide range of programs which include Business Law, Common Law, and the likes. In respect of academic excellence, the LLM Guide lists Osgoode Hall Law School, York University as one of the top ten schools for Alternative Dispute Resolution and Intellectual Property Law.
7. Queen’s University
Located in Kingston, Ontario, the Faculty of Law at the Queen’s University has been offering quality and topnotch educational training in different law programs since 1861. It was ranked seventh in the 2023 QS Ranking for Canadian law schools. The full-time undergraduate program can be completed within three years while part-time must be completed within six years.
Postgraduate students taking the LL.M program are opportuned to complete some of their courses at a castle in England. Queen’s University offers courses in Political and Legal Thought (for students interested in legal philosophy and legal theory).
8. University of Alberta
Founded in 1912, the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta is the third-oldest law school in Canada and one of the top-ranking law schools in Canada. Although ranked sixth in the 2018 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools, the University of Alberta’s faculty of law dropped two spots in 2023.
The institution offers LL.M in both thesis and coursework. Students willing to acquire a degree in energy law will find this institution a good choice as they get to study in Canada’s oil capital. This will also expose students to diverse networking opportunities.
9. Western University
Located in London, Ontario, which is almost midway between Detroit and Toronto, the Western University is among the top law schools in Canada according to Times Higher Education rankings.
Western University’s Faculty of Law has more reputation and credibility to its name in the area of business law than others. While this institution did not make the list of the top 10 Canadian law schools in the 2018 QS Rankings, it scaled up in 2023 and clinched the ninth spot in the same ranking table.
10. University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a growing, living, and youthful institution, which embraces change and opportunity of all kinds. With over 378 undergraduate students, the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary ranked tenth in both 2022 and 2023 QS Ranking of Canadian law schools.
One great advantage the University of Calgary has is the small classes it runs compared to other law schools across Canada. This means students will have more time with their professors.
11. Dalhousie University (Schulich School of Law)
The location of this reputable law school implies that students study in the middle of the beautiful and scenic Canadian province of Nova Scotia. However, it’s not just the beauty that makes it one of the best; but Dalhousie University was ranked among the top 15 Canadian Universities in the Times Higher Education ranking for 2020. This means the institution is yet another pinnacle of academic excellence.
The faculty of law is made up of scholars who engage in interdisciplinary research and teaching from a wide range of disciplines, which includes history, criminology, legal anthropology, law, political economy, mass communication, political theory, and sociology.
12. Carleton University
Established in 1967, Carleton University remains one of Canada’s largest and oldest undergraduate programs in Legal Studies. Following its establishment over five decades ago, the institution ranks as a top choice and it is the first university in the country to study law and multidisciplinary academic concerns.
With about 2,000 students in the faculty of public affairs, the institution now offers BA (Honours) in Law, with a concentration in Business Law, Human Rights, and Transnational Law, Policy and Government, and more.
Amazingly, Carleton University became the first institution to offer a MA in Legal Studies in 1991 and accepted its first cohort of Ph.D. students in 2011. Some of the numerous opportunities available to law students at Carleton University include:
- Carleton University Research Opportunity (CUROP) (undergraduate)
- International learning experiences
- IPAF 4900 research mentorship opportunity (undergraduate)
- FPA Ambassadors (undergraduate)
- Dean’s Honour List Reception (undergraduate)
- Events, including the FPA Research Series
- Emerging Perspectives: FPA Graduate Conference (graduate)
13. University of Victoria
Another institution coming in the league of top law schools in Canada is the University of Victoria. The institution is well known to home one of the reputable law schools in Canada alongside its approach to experiential learning, the strength of the academic program, and commitment to societal engagement and social injustice.
Adding to this, the university is located a few minutes from parks and beaches, which makes for the mildest climate in Canada. Interestingly, the University of Victoria’s faculty of law has the largest number of clinical placements for each student in Canada.
14. Laval University
Established in 1852, the Laval University’s faculty of law is the oldest French-language law faculty not only in Canada but also on the North-American continent. Every year, the faculty welcomes over a thousand students from various parts of the world due to its reputation as as one of rated law schools in Canada for international students.
The faculty gives good training to future jurists in addition to its national and international recognition as a center of excellence in research. The 2020 summer at Laval University shows that it has a total of 319,000 graduates across all disciplines.
15. Lakehead University, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law
One of the best universities in Canada to pursue a law degree in a serene environment is at Lakehead University. Located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law is situated in the historic Port Arthur Collegiate Institute (PACI), which was built in 1909. Since its establishment, the faculty has continually provided high standard legal education, hence, providing a deeply rooted knowledge of law alongside the practical application.
Academic programs at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law focus on the realities of working and living in the North: Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Aboriginal, and Indigenous Law as well as small firm practice using the Integrated Practice Curriculum (IPC).
16. University of Manitoba
The University of Manitoba Faculty of law can be said to be a passport to a groundbreaking law career in Canada and beyond. For decades, the faculty of law has received accolades regarding its interdisciplinary and dynamic approach to the study of law. Being the only law school in Manitoba is a huge advantage to the institution as it enjoys a good relationship with practicing judges and lawyers in the province who mentors and teach students through the course of their study.
Students at the University of Manitoba Faculty of law take part in mock trials and moot courts. They engage one another in legal clinics, shadow judges, and represent real clients in their chamber and courtrooms. Also, they compete in international and national negotiation and advocacy competitions.
17. University of New Brunswick
Next on the list is the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law. Established in 1892, the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law (UNB Law) remains the second oldest university-based common law faculty in the commonwealth. With a total of, approximately, 11,000 students on the Fredericton campus, the university offers a huge number of graduate and undergraduate courses aside from law.
The UNM Law finds its location on one of the most attractive university campuses across Canada (Ludlow Hall). This diverse and small student body gives a unique opportunity to acquire a personalized legal education as part of a close-knit and friendly community.
18. Ryerson University
Situated in Canada’s financial center and largest urban area, Ryerson University is well known for its dedication to meeting societal needs via practical learning and career-relevant education. The faculty of law at Ryerson University does not leave out on this as it received preliminary approval of its law program by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) in 2017.
That being said, students who study and graduate from the Ryerson law will no longer be required to complete the Law Practice Program before they would be licensed as lawyers since the law program at Ryerson University has been approved by the Law Society of Ontario.
19. University of Saskatchewan, College of Law
The College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan (established in 1912) is not just one of the top-ranking law schools in Canada but also the oldest law school in western Canada, which exemplifies a tradition of excellence in research, teaching, and innovation.
With a deeply rooted history in assessing justice, developing strength in dispute resolution, indigenous legal education, health law, commercial law, leading scholars in constitutional law, and criminal law, the college provide students with a highly-regarded mooting program, global exchange opportunities, and joint degree programs.
20. Thompson Rivers University
The Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law has one of the foremost professional law programs in Canada. Due to its international recognition as a top-notch law school in Canada for international students, the institution receives applicants from diverse parts of the world.
Coming last on the list of top 20 law schools in Canada, TRU has indeed established itself as a center of scholarship and excellence in legal education.