Male student in an OsgoodePD classroom with videoconferencing in the background

Distance Learning: Earning an LLM from across the country

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In this hyper-connected and technology reliant day and age, geographic location or distance from a physical classroom setting should not be a barrier to learning or to achieving professional development goals.

Each year, approximately 150 students located outside the Toronto area, study and complete their Professional LLM with the help of OsgoodePD’s videoconferencing technology. OsgoodePD offers the only LLM program in Canada with this option. But what is the videoconferencing experience like? And is it for everyone?

We asked three Professional LLM alumni about their distance learning experiences. Inspector Kevin Cyr of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Barrister & Solicitor and Chartered Mediator Deborah Kay and Associate Jodie Reynolds shared what it is like attending class via videoconferencing and elements of the distance learning experience they were not expecting.

OsgoodePD classroom with videoconferencing functionality - 3 screens live streaming students attending remotely

Inspector Kevin Cyr, LLM in Criminal Law & Procedure
Criminal Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Surrey, BC

What was your distance learning experience like?
I completed the LLM from my home in Surrey, British Columbia. My distance learning experience was excellent. This was not a spectator event – I had a high level of engagement with my classmates and professors during and between classes over both video and email.

I still can’t believe that I had the opportunity to attend a top tier law school that was located thousands of kilometers from me without actually having to leave my house. The opportunity to attend Osgoode was incredible in itself, but the accessibility of the program put it over the top.

What was the hardest thing about completing your LLM with distance learning?
The most difficult aspect was ensuring that I formed connections with my classmates. This would have been very straightforward if I had physically attended classes, but when videoconferencing it took concerted efforts to achieve that connection through emails and actively engaging in classes.

What advice would you offer someone considering an LLM via distance learning?
The best advice I can offer is that the program does require significant discipline to complete. I was glad that I made the program a priority, and reduced some of the other commitments in my life in order to accommodate it.

OsgoodePD classroom with videoconferencing

Deborah Kay, LLM in Family Law
Barrister & Solicitor and Chartered Mediator,
Kay Law and Mediation
Edmonton, AB

What was your distance learning experience like?
The experience provided for intellectual growth, networking opportunities with colleagues across the country, substantive law updates.
The ability of the IT team to make the videoconferencing seamless, interactive and enjoyable was a surprise. I expected to have limited ability to interact with colleagues and it was quite the opposite.

How would you explain the videoconferencing experience to someone who hasn’t experienced it?
The experience was very relaxing. There was no pressure to attend class and we became accustomed to the environments of our colleagues, even their children or pets in their offices or living room and it was most pleasant to get to know each other, even more so than if we were sitting around a classroom.

What advice or lessons learnt would you offer someone thinking of undertaking an LLM via distance learning?
Learning is a lifelong journey and prevents lawyers from become outdated and stale in their practice. It was very intellectually motivating and even more rewarding to achieve an established goal. You will be proud when completed and satisfied with the accomplishment. Make sure you have time to study on a daily basis and keep up with the readings to get the most out of each course.

OsgoodePD classroom with videoconferencing - close up on students attending remotely

Jodie Reynolds, LLM in Family Law
Associate, Levesque, Grenkie Barristers & Solicitors
Cornwall, ON

What was your distance learning experience like?
It was very enjoyable to be back in school. The classes were very interesting and the subject matter was extremely relevant to my practice.

Was there anything that surprised you about studying via videoconferencing? Anything you weren’t expecting?
I did not expect that I would feel that I was part of the class because I was not there physically. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the technology and the willingness of the professor to include ALL students made it seem that we were right there with the rest of the students.

Was there a funny or memorable moment from your distance learning experience?
One of the students got so comfortable on the couch watching the lecture that she fell asleep. She thought her camera was off!

What advice would you offer someone considering an LLM via distance learning?
It is a very good option if you cannot attend in person. I do not believe that I missed out on anything from any class by completing my courses via distance learning.

To learn more about OsgoodePD’s videoconferencing technology and which LLM specializations are videoconference-compatible, head to the Distance Learning page on our website.

Published by

Sarah Alexander

Staff writer at OsgoodePD

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