Before starting your Osgoode LLM in International Business Law, what was your academic/professional journey like?
My academic background: I got my law degree from Universidad de los Andes, Chile, in 2011. Then in 2014, I studied in Natural Resources Law at Universidad Catolica de Chile, and in 2017 I studied for my diploma that specialized in Water Rights (a very scarce and expensive resource in Chile, especially in the mining industry) also in Universidad Catolica.
My professional experience: I worked for two years as a civil servant in the National Irrigation Department. Then I switched to the private sector working in the litigation team for a law firm called Urrutia y Cia. Finally, I quit that firm to go to Osgoode – one of the best decisions I have made in my career so far.
How did the LLM program benefit your career?
I got many different benefits, some of them were “hard-knowledge-type” and some others – which were most important- were “soft-knowledge/experience-type.”
Osgoode offered a vast variety of courses and I was able to pick those that were more useful for my future career in Chile, like International Finance, Business Associations, International Sale of Goods course, International Business Transactions, Taxation of Cross Border Transactions, Mining Law among others. All of them gave me handy tools that now I am applying daily in my practice as a lawyer.
However, much more important than that where all the “soft-kind” experience and knowledge I got studying at Osgoode. As basic as it sounds, it is not easy to find an international LLM program with classmates from all over the world, and Osgoode delivered in that regard. In addition, between classmates there was a very open approach with each other, where almost every student was interested in making new friends, sharing their professional experiences in the class, and learning from other cultures. While simultaneously learning about the Canadian culture through conversations with professors (all of them were willing to have a coffee to talk about any matter, making corrections and helping us enhance as professionals which was above and beyond what they are supposed to do – special thanks to Jinyan Li, German Morales, and Anthony Daimsis. Even professors that weren´t part of my program! Special thanks to Ed Waitzer. I experienced the fantastic “Canadian goodwill,” or the “happy-to-help-style” which was something I took as an example and I am trying to apply it every day here in Chile.
I also made a good number of connections and even got an Internship at Fasken (one of the biggest law firms in Canada). One of the reasons why Fasken considered to hire me was, among others, the fact that I had studied an LLM program at Osgoode Hall Law school.
What were some of the challenges you faced attending a Canadian University? How did you overcome them?
I went to Toronto with my 7-month-pregnant wife, so as you can imagine, my first big challenge was having our first son in a foreign country. My wife (Beatriz) and I thought this would be a real nightmare, but we were happily surprised when we realized that everything worked just fine. The baby came with no problem at all, the hospital was good, the health insurance took care of everything without any problem, doctors were professional and friendly so that experience ended up being beautiful and we were able to enjoy the entire process.
The other challenge was the language. In Chile, we speak Spanish, so at the beginning, it was a little hard because I didn´t have a very high English level. However, both professors and Osgoode`s staff members where very supportive, understanding and always willing to help so I was able to manage quite well within the firsts months while I adapted myself, then I ended up dominating the English language perfectly, so I am very thankful.
I was also concerned about what my wife could do while I was studying. That concern disappeared when we met our classmates. It is amazing how friendly everyone was. All of my classmates were very interested in making friends, learning from other cultures, and were openminded to understand the different customs. So, I introduced my wife to almost all of my classmates, and she became a member of our group. She actually made friends that -in her words- she is “confident that is going to last forever.” In addition, since York University is pretty large, it has many different diplomas, certificates and a vast variety of programs to offer, so Beatriz decided to take the Mini MBA program at Schulich Business School, which was one of the best decisions she could have made. The program was great, she met lots of friends, kept herself very busy and of course, she learned a lot.
We were in Toronto, so as you can imagine, the weather was a factor that scared us a little. I am not going to lie: the winter is cold. Very cold. The good thing is that the entire city is prepared for it, so public transport is always on time, well heated (even some bus stops have a heating system). Apartments are completely isolated, as well as classrooms, offices, restaurants, etc. I am an outdoor activities lover, especially mountain biking and motocross, and unfortunately, there are not very good spots to practice those sports, but Keele campus has an amazing sports centre with a huge gym, many squash courts, and even an indoor 300mts long court, so I was able to exercise the whole year even through the weather.
Why would you recommend an LLM degree from OsgoodePD to other Internationally trained legal professionals?
As you can imagine, there are many reasons why I would suggest Osgoode over any other law school to do an LLM.
Osgoode is the only one offering a wide variety of LLM specialties, so you can choose one that suits your interests. Besides, you can also take courses from other LLM specialties, meeting new people, and learning from different areas of law, getting a very rich and complete knowledge base.
Professors are great. Most of them have lots of practice experience working at the highest professional levels and are also very knowledgeable academically speaking. There are also some fascinating seminars and events happening quite often at the Faculty of Law.
One of the most substantial reasons why I would suggest Osgoode is the fact that it is a very well respected Law school in Toronto and Canada, so if you are trying to get a job as a lawyer at any law firm in Canada – specifically Toronto- you have started on the right foot.
Now talking about more practical reasons, I must say that the costs of the LLM programs are not just reasonable, but actually cheaper than other law schools. The good thing is that in my opinion, they do not sacrifice academic quality. Also, facilities such as the library, classrooms, gym, and in general the whole campus are just excellent. Apartments are suitable, they are not the fanciest thing you can imagine, but they are ok and not expensive (remember I was there with my wife Beatriz and a newborn baby).
To finish, I want to add that all professors, faculty staff and classmates were amiable and supportive, and thanks to all of them, our experience studying at Osgoode was unforgettable!
Manuel Tagle grew up in the countryside located near Santiago, Chile, with his 7 younger brothers. During several summer seasons, he worked in the fields, which helped him learn country customs as well as the agricultural, dairy, and fruit export business. Manuel studied Law at Universidad de los Andes Law School and started working for two years in the National Irrigation Commission (an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture) and then switched to the litigation team of a well-recognized law firm in Chile. Once he finished his studies at Osgoode he worked for three months in Fasken Martineau Du Moulin and is now working in a boutique law firm called VGM Abogados (www.vgmabogados.com) which is specialized in Natural Resources (Mining, Energy, water, agroindustry, and environmental law), which is the area of law he has always loved.