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Application Tips: Writing Samples

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As part of your application to the LLM, you are asked to submit a writing sample. This writing sample should best demonstrate your preparedness for graduate-level academic research and writing. We’re often asked for advice on what makes a strong writing sample so we’ve put together these tips.

In General

  • Your writing sample must be something you’ve written on your own
  • For applicants for whom English is not the first language, we encourage you to use a piece you originally wrote in English – not something you’ve translated.

Examples of Commonly Used Writing Samples

  • An academic paper (a good choice if you have recently completed or are currently enrolled in an academic program). You may submit an older academic sample if you feel it still represents your current writing and analytical ability
  • A legal memorandum, opinion, or factum
  • A position or policy paper
  • An article prepared for publication

If you don’t have one of the above, you can write a 5-10 page piece on a legal subject you’re interested in. We’ve put together some ideas below, which you are welcome to use:

Administrative Law

  • Comment on Mikisew Cree First Nation v Canada (Governor-General in Council), 2018 SCC 40. You may comment on the Court’s discussion of whether the duty to consult is triggered when the government develops policy and/or legislation or any other aspect of the decision.
  • Comment on the findings of the Supreme Court in India v Badesha, 2017 SCC 44. You may choose to comment on the Court’s application of the reasonableness standard to the Minister’s decision, or you may comment on the Court’s position on the method of judicial review in the extradition context, or any other aspect of the decision.

Banking and Financial Services Law

  • Comment on an aspect of the recent amendments to the regulations of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. For example, you may choose to comment on the changes to the Suspicious Transactions Reporting Regulations, or any other aspect of the amendments.
  • Comment on Bank of Montreal v Marcotte, 2014 SCC 55. You may comment on the Court’s findings pertaining to the justification of punitive damages for the conducts of the 9 defendant banks, or any other aspect of the decision.

Business Law

  • Comment on any of the proposed changes to the Canada Business Corporations Act outlined in the federal omnibus budget implementation bill. For example, you may comment on the proposed changes with regards to the director’s fiduciary duties, annual say-on-pay, or diversity disclosure, or any other aspect of the proposed changes.
  • Comment on the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in BCE Inc. v. 1976 Debentureholders (BCE), 2008 SCC 69 that outlines the duties of corporate directors

Canadian Common Law

  • Comment on the Court’s decision in Saadati v Moorhead, 2017 SCC 28, and the Court’s ruling that a finding of psychiatric harm does not need to be based on medical evidence.
  • Comment on the Court’s finding in Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University, 2018 SCC 32.

Constitutional Law

  • Comment on the Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2019 ONCA 544 and the Court’s finding that the federal carbon tax is constitutional. You may also include commentary on similar decisions from other provinces on the constitutionality of the carbon tax.
  • Comment on the Court’s finding in Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University, 2018 SCC 32.

Criminal Law and Procedure

  • Write about the concept of mandatory victim surcharges with reference to the decision in v. Boudreault, 2018 SCC 58.
  • Consider the balance that the Supreme Court of Canada aims to strike between “the state’s interest in the investigation and prosecution of crime and the media’s right to privacy in gathering and disseminating the news” with reference to v. Vice Media Canada Inc., 2018 SCC 53.

Dispute Resolution

  • Discuss the potential for the modernization of dispute resolution in Ontario with the use of technology.
  • Comment on Heller v Uber Technologies, 2019 ONCA 1, with reference to the Court’s discussion of arbitration clauses.

Energy and Infrastructure Law

  • Case Comment on the Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2019 ONCA 544 and the Court’s finding that the federal carbon tax is constitutional. You may also include commentary on similar decisions from other provinces on the constitutionality of the carbon tax.
  • Comment on the concept of climate change class actions and their potential to disrupt the current state of climate change mitigation (you can refer to the recently filed class action called ENvironnement JEUnesse vs Canada, or other climate change class actions in other countries).

Health Law

  • Comment on the Court’s decision in Saadati v Moorhead, 2017 SCC 28, and the Court’s ruling that a finding of psychiatric harm does not need to be based on medical evidence.
  • Comment on the Court’s ruling in Hopkins v Kay, 2015 ONCA 112, with reference to the means of redress per the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, SO 2004, c 3, Sch A.

Intellectual Property Law

  • Comment on the Court’s discussion of a patent’s “utility” per S. 2 of the Patent Act in AstraZeneca Canada Inc. v. Apotex Inc., 2017 SCC 36.
  • Comment on the Court’s findings in Google Inc v Equustek Solutions Inc, 2017 SCC 34.

International Business Law

  • Comment on the burgeoning field of Business and Human Rights with reference to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • Discuss the efficacy and challenges for international commercial dispute resolution bodies such as the International Chamber of Commerce.

Labour Relations and Employment Law

  • Comment on the potential implications of the passage of the Cannabis Act and upcoming amendments to the Cannabis Regulations (to regulate the production and sale of cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals) on workplace law.
  • Comment on discrimination regarding employment with reference to the Court’s decision in British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal v Schrenk, 2017 SCC 62.

Privacy & Cybersecurity Law

  • Discuss the concept of the reasonable expectation of privacy in public areas with reference to the recent landmark decision in R v Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10.
  • Discuss the privacy implications of the Court’s finding in R v Marakah, 2017 SCC 59 with reference to S. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Securities Law

  • Comment on the Court’s ruling in Finkelstein v Ontario Securities Commission, 2018 ONCA 61 with reference to the insider trading and tipping scheme in the Ontario Securities Act.
  • Comment on Wilson v. Alharayeri, 2017 SCC 39 and the personal liability of directors with regards to the oppression remedy, or any other aspect of the decision.

Tax Law

  • Comment on the Court’s decision in Guindon v Canada, 2015 SCC 41 with reference to s. 163.2 of the Income Tax Act (the provision pertaining to misrepresentation of a tax matter by a third-party).
  • Comment on the companion decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. v Attorney General of Canada, 2016 SCC 55 and Canada (Attorney General) v Fairmont Hotels Inc., 2016 SCC 56, with reference to the test for rectification under the Quebec Civil Code.
Examples for all specializations:

You may also want to submit a writing sample on a legal topic which is broadly applicable and not subject matter specific. For example, you may choose to write on a topic related to legal ethics, professional responsibility in the legal industry, or access to justice. Examples of such topics include:

  • Comment on the proposed Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, 2019.
  • Comment on the balance between a lawyer’s duty to zealously advocate and their duty to remain civil with reference to Groia v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27.

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