Students in classroom

JD National Program

The National Program is an accelerated course of study for students who already hold a civil law degree from a Canadian university. Students are expected to have a high level of proficiency in both French and English, as the program is bilingual.

You can apply to the National Program after completing your civil law degree or during the final year of your civil law studies.

The Common Law Section's National Program is designed to immerse graduates of Canadian civil law schools in the common law tradition. This 8-month program leads to a “JD – National Program” degree.

In order to be eligible for this program, applicants must have completed a civil law degree at a Canadian institution (or complete their Canadian civil law degree in the same year that they are applying).

Admissions and enrolment

Assessment

Applications to the National Program are assessed by considering the candidate’s

  • Academic performance
  • Completion of mandatory civil law courses
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Non-academic experience

(The "LSAT" is not required for admission into the National Program.)

To be considered for the National Program, candidates are expected to have a minimum of a B average (i.e a 6.0 on the University of Ottawa’s 10-point scale).

Candidates are required to have passed all of the following courses:

  • DRC1514 : Droit des obligations I  (or equivalent) 
  • DRC1707 : Droit pénal I  (or equivalent) 
  • DRC2508 : Droit administratif  (or equivalent) 
  • DRC2509: Droits et libertés  (or equivalent) 
  • DRC2501: Droit de l'entreprise I  (or equivalent)
  • DRC1503: Fondement du droit (or equivalent)
  • DRC1705: Droit constitutionnel I  (or equivalent)

Your application must be supported by two (2) references letters from your civil law professors.

Think carefully about who you choose as your referees. Choose people who know you well and who will support your application. Ideally, each referee should be able to comment on your strengths as a law student and explain your performance relative to the performance of your classmates.

The personal statement is a critical part of the application, and should be thought of as a professional interview in writing.  Please review our assessment considerations for a personal statement.

If there are weaknesses in your application that you would like to contextualize with more information, please use your personal statement to address them. Where applicable, supporting documentation is strongly encouraged.

As with all of your application components, the information you provide in your personal statement will be considered in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code, which states:

“Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability” (R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s.1; 1999, c.6, s.28 [1]; 2001, c.32, s.27 [1]); 2005, c. 5, s. 32 (1); 2012, c.

Need more guidance? Check out our Top 10 Tips for Your Best Personal Statement

(Last updated December 17 2021)

Testimonials

Calin ROVINESCU

Calin Rovinescu

President & CEO - Air Canada, LLB 1980

I attended the Ottawa U Common Law Year in 1980, after having graduated from the Université de Montreal’s Civil Law program and taken Quebec’s Bar admission course. It was a remarkable year which improved my understanding of the broader dimensions of the law and helped to prepare me not only for a 20-plus year career in Corporate Law but also for the business world. I am proud to see the great progress the Faculty has achieved over the years and to be counted amongst its graduates.

Jamie Furniss

Jamie Furniss

Post-doc - Groupe de recherches et d'études sur la Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient - Université de Lyon 2/CNRS, LLB 2005

The national program is one of the main reasons I chose to do law at the University of Ottawa. It drew me back at a time when I was inclined to go to university in the US. The chance to study both of Canada's legal systems, in both official languages, in the nation's capital, is a unique selling point not just in the Canadian university landscape. It fittingly embodies Canada's uniqueness in the world and offers something that can, literally, be found nowhere else: two hereditarily opposed systems of reasoning and rules co-existing peacefully under a single roof, taught and practiced in collaborative and mutually enriching ways. There are also many practical advantages in terms of career and employment. For instance, I emerged from the program far more bilingual than when I entered it, which, combined with the dual-degree, were no doubt the main strengths that got me an articling position at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Michel W. Drapeau

Michel W. Drapeau

Barrister-Solicitor-Professor, LLB 2000

As legal systems developed the world over, the evolution of the role of jurists has evolved.  In modern times, jurists of the type prominent in civil-law countries and those in common-law systems have witnessed the accelerated growth and development of integrated, comprehensive codes governing many world-wide activities such as in humanitarian, commercial, financial, security and criminal law to cover situations which transcend national borders.  Increasingly, the distinction between those two legal systems have both blurred and overlapped to the point that common-law countries are now adopting features of the civil-law traditions in their legal systems and vice versa. Jurists possessing a bi-juridical training address this worldwide trend by signaling their openness to the perspective of diverse legal traditions and systems.

Kevin Gilmore

Kevin Gilmore

Chief Operating Officer - Montréal Canadians, LLB 1987

If we say that all roads lead to Rome, I can assure you that the path towards a successful career is no stranger to Common Law training, particularly the National Program at the University of Ottawa.  Both ambitious and passionate about the law, I was only 23 years old when I completed my degree in Common Law and had a feeling that nothing was impossible.  I was still far from thinking that my career would take me straight to California and eventually lead me to a career in the world of hockey, an area that particularly appealed to me.  My skating skills were deficient and, as they say in hockey jargon, I had no hands.  However, my training has allowed me to play on the first line in the big leagues, the NHL.  My 20 years in hockey circles, which I am celebrating this year, are due not only to my desire to succeed , but also to the challenging and appropriate training I received at the University of Ottawa. Like hockey players, my success has been dependant on my apprenticeship in the minors, within one of the best Common Law programs offered in North America.

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Murray Sklar

Lawyer, LLB 1973

I was really touched by the kindness and warm welcome that I received from the Common Law professors at the time.  Professor Leslie Shaw, who taught me Personal Property (Droit des biens), introduced us in an extraordinary manner to Common Law.  As for Professor Gerald Morin (Procédure civile), Professor Joseph Roach (Propriétaires et Locataires) and, of course, Dean Feeney, they have all inspired me.  I found that the majority of the Common Law students were always pleasant and warm-hearted in their dealings with us – Civilians.  We could say we may have added a touch of “civility” to the “common law” way of looking at things.

I feel that having both the civil and common law traditions has given me a broader and more inclusive outlook to the law and its developments; in particular, in my area of interest,  the civil law on trusts has developed its own distinct pathway but the common law  history of trusts has certainly influenced the development of the civil law in this area. Overall, I see each system of law as comprising two separate streams that ultimately mix together and flow into the same ocean of legal ideas.

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Sandra Hassan

Assistant Deputy Minister, Law Branch, Department of Finance, LLB 2005

After having completed a Degree in Civil Law, a Masters in Taxation and having worked a few years, I enrolled into the National Program.  It was additional academia that I considered essential. This training allowed me to tie everything together, to better understand the law as it applies in Canada from coast to coast. 

As part of my work with the Department of Justice Canada, I regularly use the knowledge and skills I developed while in the National Program. Whether it be in the context of national litigation, legislation, economic or fiscal policy cases, the common law and comparative law notions as well as the French legal vocabulary, are indispensable to me!

Yan Campagnolo

Yan Campagnolo

Legal Council, Privy Council Office, LLB 2004

I elected to pursue my studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa because of its location in our National Capital as well as its bilingual and bijural character.  The possibility of obtaining a legal education in Civil Law and Common Law within the same institution, and in both official languages, is a unique opportunity for any jurist.  With this education, one can more easily break the territorial barriers that isolate the practice of law on the national and international planes; and cultivate a richer understanding of the juridical science beyond the methodology and the mode of reasoning peculiar to each tradition.  The ability to work on files from the provinces of Civil Law and Common Law in both French and English, has enabled me to constructively participate in major national debates during my clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada and as part of my current position as legal counsel with the Privy Council Office.  The National Program is an investment whose performance never fades.

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Terence P. Badour

Executive Vice President, Law and Administration, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, LLB 1984

The UOttawa National Program endowed me with a profound understanding of the dual legal traditions and sources of law that better positioned me to succeed in my professional career. Armed with common law jurisprudential training and civil law raisonment juridique has equipped me to transcend borders in my practice and enabled me to draw on both sources of law to find creative solutions to legal and business issues. In my role as general counsel for a global enterprise operating in more than 30 countries and on 5 continents having training in both the common law and civil law is a valuable tool and a competitive advantage. 

Program requirements

  • National Program students must complete a minimum of 30 common law units during one academic year, including:
    • Contracts - 3 units
    • Torts - 3 units
    • Property - 3  units
    • Civil procedure - 3 units
    • Professional responsibility - 3 units
    • One optional course which satisfies the oral advocacy requirement  - 3 units
    • Optional Courses - 12 units (subject to regulations below)
  • National Program students must complete a minimum of 30 common law units during one academic year, including:
  • This is a bilingual program and students are required to take their mandatory courses in either language as determined by the section each year.  Elective courses may be taken in either French or English. Students are expected to be sufficiently fluent in both languages to be able to read the materials assigned and to actively participate in class.
  • Students must satisfy the major paper requirement of the Common Law Section.
  • Students must achieve a minimum final GPA of 3.5 to successfully pass the program.
  • Students cannot enrol simultaneously in the National Program and any other full-time program such as the École du Barreau du Québec.

Regulations for selection of elective courses

1. National Program students are not permitted to enrol in the following courses:

  • Courses that are essentially identical in content to those that the student has already completed before commencing the National Program;
  • School Sponsored or Student-Proposed Internships except where, in the opinion of the Director of the Program, the student has evidenced that a demonstrable common law content exists; or
  • Competitive Moot courses except where, in the opinion of the Director of the Program, the student has evidenced that a demonstrable common law content exists:

    English Moots and Bilingual Moots with a common law content:
    French Moots with a common law content:

    For all other moot courses please contact the director of the program regarding their common law content.
    • ARNUP Cup Criminal law
    • CORPORATE SECURITIES Moot
    • JESSUP Public International law
    • LASKIN Constitutional/Administrative law
    • VIS Private international Law
    • WILSON Equality s. 15
    • WALSH Family Law moot
    • Tax law moot
    • MONCTON OTTAWA Private law
    • GUY-GUERIN Criminal law
    • ROUSSEAU Public International Law

2. Students who have taken one of the mandatory National Program courses before entering the program must replace that course with elective units as part of their minimum 30 units.

3. The 30 units does not include CML courses already taken by the student before entering the National Program.

Course sequences