Glossary

This glossary doesn't cover the complicated legal terminology you learn in law school. This covers the unique terms and abbreviations you'll hear in law school and when applying to law school.

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Access applicant: applicants whose undergraduate grades and/or LSAT score were impacted by a disadvantage or inequality. This could include a cultural, economic, medical, or physical barrier. Students can choose to apply as access applicants if applicable but are not required to. Access applicants must provide supporting documentation.

Articling: a 10-month placement (currently 8 months due to COVID-19) where recent law school graduates work under the supervision of a lawyer to prepare for entry-level practice. Articling is one pathway to completing the lawyer licensing process.

Associate: lawyers who don’t hold an ownership position in a firm. There are two categories of associates: junior associates, typically lawyers with only a few years of experience and senior associates, who have several years of experience but are not yet a partner.

Autobiographical Sketch: also referred to as ABS, this is a section in your law school application where you add information about employment, volunteer activities, and extracurriculars.

Bar Exam: an umbrella term used to refer to the Barrister and Solicitor Exams. Two open-book exams taken after graduating law school that are a required part of the licensing process in certain provinces (Ontario and British Columbia). Read How to Write the Bar Exam for more information.

Bay Street: a street in the centre of Downtown Toronto's Financial District. Bay Street is typically a reference to the large, full-service corporate law firms in Toronto.  

BigLaw: a term used mainly online that refers to large, high-paying law firms in major cities.

Billables: work hours that a lawyer can charge to their client. For example, drafting a contract.   

Boutique firm: a small law firm that focuses on a specialized area of law.

B2: stands for "best two". You'll mainly see this term used online and it refers to your two years in university with the highest grade point averages. Some law schools in Canada take your GPA from your best two years of university instead of looking at all years.

B3: stands for "best three". You'll mainly see this term used online and it refers to your three years in university with the highest grade point averages. Some law schools in Canada (U of T) take your GPA from your best three years of university instead of looking at all years.

Call to the Bar: the step of officially becoming a lawyer. It means you’ve passed the Barrister and Solicitor exams, finished articling or the LPP (Law Practice Program), filed the necessary documents and remain in good character.

Call Day: a day during the OCI Recruit where law firms call candidates to invite them for an in-firm interview. Call Day happens after meeting students at the On-Campus Interviews.

CANs: stands for condensed annotated notes. They’re summaries of legal cases (the facts, holdings, ratios and reasons) and can include key notes said in class by professors. CANs may look different from person to person. You may also hear CANS being called summaries, outlines, mind maps, etc.

cGPA: stands for cumulative grade point average (your average from all years in university). Some, but not all, law schools in Canada use your cGPA as the GPA in your law school application.

Civ Pro: a short form for Civil Procedure, a mandatory class in Canadian law schools.

Clerking: as an alternative to articling, law students in Canada can work as clerks in under the direction of a judge. Duties differ based on the justice and the court but typically involves researching the law, drafting memoranda, editing judgments, and assisting in writing papers and speeches. These are highly competitive positions. Not to be confused with Law Clerks.

Clinics: pro bono legal-aid organizations that law students work in for course credit, as paid summer jobs, or as volunteers. Different clinics may focus on different areas of law.

Cold call: when a professor calls on a student to answer a question in class without warning. Most professors don’t do this but some do.

Curve: grades in law school are curved. Each law school sets a median grade (usually a B, or a 75%) which forces a distribution of grades above and below. This means you’ll be graded in relation to your peers and the majority of students will get grades clustered around the middle.

Deferring: an accepted law student may be able to delay the start of law school by a year or more for a valid reason like illness, employment, financial issues, or other personal circumstances. Deferring admission requires a formal written request.

ECs: an abbreviation for extracurricular activities. Typically only used online.

Firm acceptance: a way of accepting a law school offer of admission that automatically rejects any other offers and withdraws your applications at other law schools.

Hireback: refers to articling students being hired back by their firms as first-year associates. You can check out hireback statistics for major Toronto law firms here.

Holistic: refers to a holistic admissions process. This generally means that a law school considers applicants based on factors beyond LSAT score and grades. This may include extracurricular involvement, employment, letters of recommendation, and personal statement.  

In-house: refers to lawyers who act for a single company instead of at a law firm. Many large companies have decided it is more cost efficient to have an internal team of lawyers as opposed to retaining an outside law firm.  

Law Clerk: works under the direction of a lawyer and is responsible for duties like interviewing clients, drafting correspondence, assisting in trial preparations as well as other administrative tasks. Law clerks may work closely with one lawyer or with a team of lawyers.

Law Practice Program: a four-month training course and four-month work placement that JD candidates can do to satisfy the requirements of the Lawyer Licensing Process (an alternative option to articling).

LexisNexis: an online legal research tool available for free to law students. You'll often hear it being compared to Westlaw and most law students develop a preference for one or the other.

LLB: stands for Bachelor of Laws. A law degree in Canada was formerly called an LLB but got renamed to JD in the early 2000s. This was to minimize confusion with LLBs in other countries like England and Australia where students can obtain an LLB as an undergraduate degree right after high school.

LLM: is an abbreviation of the Latin term Legum Magister, which means Masters of Law. It’s a year-long degree program that allows legal professionals to deepen their knowledge in an area of law and improve their research skills after they’ve completed a JD.

Logic Games: often referred to online as LG. Logic Games are a section on the LSAT that involves questions with a single scenario and specific rules. For example, there's a week long music festival and using the rules you'll have to figure out which band is playing on a specific day. You can see examples of Logic Games here.

Logical Reasoning: often referred to online as LR. Logical Reasoning is a section on the LSAT where you are asked to read short passages and answer questions about the argument, evidence, conclusion, inferences or assumptions.

LOR: stands for letter of recommendation. Law school applicants in Canada need at least two letters of recommendation, with at least one being an academic reference.

LSAT: stands for Law School Admission Test. A half-day standardized test administered by the Law School Admission Council. The LSAT is required to apply to most Canadian law schools.

LSAT-Flex: an online, remotely proctored version of the LSAT available only for the duration of COVID-19.

L2: stands for "last two". You'll mainly see this term used online and it refers to the grades achieved in your last two years of university. Some law schools in Canada take your GPA only from your last two years of university instead of looking at all years.

Moot: a mock court hearing where law students argue simulated cases. Moots can be extracurricular or for-credit.

OCIs: stands for on-campus interviews. Representatives from law firms travel to law schools across Canada to interview candidates whose applications interested them. OCIs take place in the second year of law school.

OLSAS: applying to law schools in Ontario is done through the Ontario Law School Application Service (OLSAS).

Outlines: summaries of legal cases (the facts, holdings, ratios and reasons) and can include key notes said in class by professors. Outlines may look different from person to person. You may also hear outlines being called CANS, summaries, mind maps, etc.

Partner: leading lawyers at a law firm. There are two types of partners: equity partners who buy-in, own a share of the firm and make a portion of its profits, and non-equity partners who don’t buy-in, remain on salary, and don’t own part of the firm. Non-equity partnership is sometimes considered an unofficial probationary period before equity partnership.

PSLOC: stands for Professional School Line of Credit. You'll mainly see this abbreviation used in conversations online among students discussing law school financing. You can see an overview of the main PSLOC options in Canada here.

Provisional acceptance: a way of accepting a law school offer of admission that saves your spot at the school but keeps your applications at other schools open. Provisional acceptances eventually turn into firm acceptances after a set date.

Reading Comprehension: often referred to online as RC. Reading comprehension is a section on the LSAT that provides lengthy passages and asks you to answer questions using the information provided in the passage.

Reverse splitter: a law school applicant that has a low LSAT score but a high GPA.

Splitter: a law school applicant that has a high LSAT score but low GPA.

Summaries: summaries of legal cases (the facts, holdings, ratios and reasons) and can include key notes said in class by professors. Summaries may look different from person to person. You may also hear outlines being called CANS, outlines, mind maps, etc.

Verifiers: people who may be contacted by law schools to verify that an applicant did in fact hold the employment/volunteer role listed in their application. Applicants must provide contact information for verifiers in their application. 

Westlaw: an online legal research tool available for free to law students. You'll often hear it being compared to LexisNexis and most law students develop a preference for one over the other.

0L: a law school applicant or accepted student that has not started law school yet.

1L: a first year law student.

2L: a second year law student.

3L: a third year law student.