IELP FAQ

Frequently asked questions for UCalgary students going to the University of Houston


Before applying to the IELP

Once admitted to the IELP

After arriving at University of Houston

General Information

Q. What is the IELP, and why should I do it?

A. The University of Houston Law Center and The University of Calgary offer an International Energy Lawyers Program which allows students to earn both American and Canadian law degrees in four years. Students will spend two years at each school and take courses that will enable them to apply for admission to bars in the United States and Canada. The driving force behind the program is a shared commitment to natural resource, energy and environmental law.

Through the IELP, Law students will learn to analyze complex emerging issues in energy and environmental sectors and earn degrees in U.S. and Canada. The University of Calgary and the University of Houston Law Center each enjoy international reputations as leading law schools in these areas and Houston and Calgary are leading energy centers. This collaboration is unique given its specialization in energy law.

Q. What is the application process?

A. University of Calgary students interested in the IELP are required to submit a Statement of Interest and supporting documentation to the Assistant Dean, Student Services, at the University of Calgary. To be eligible to apply to the IELP, students must have completed the required first-year program and earn a cumulative GPA that places them in the top half of the class.

Q. When do I apply?

A. Students should apply to the program before beginning their second year and must receive formal approval from the Assistant Dean, Student Services. If accepted by the University of Calgary’s IELP committee, the student can proceed to the University of Houston admissions process.

Q. What is the UH admissions process?

A. The University of Houston will review the application promptly and, in principle, accept the student unless there is an appropriate reason for rejecting the applicant.

IELP applications are reviewed in line with the school’s regular admission criteria. This includes a review of LSAT scores and transcripts. University of Houston admission occurs on a rolling basis.

Q. Who can I talk to for more information?

A. For more information contact the Assistant Dean, Student Services at the University of Calgary, Angela Gallo-Dewar at agallode@ucalgary.ca

Q. What does Houston have to offer?

A. Houston is one of the largest cities and economic hubs in the United States. Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, is bustling with culture and energy and has recently gained recognition as America’s next great global city. Houston also has the fastest growing economy in the country.

Houston has been ranked #1 city for recent college graduates by msnNOW. The survey ranked major cities by a combination of job growth, affordable living and vibrant 20-something populations. Houston's quality of life and proximity to research partners in business and government also make the city an attractive home for talented professors and their families.

Houston is an entertaining place to live, too. Forbes Magazine took notice of all the culture the city has to offer, recently naming Houston, “America’s Coolest City,” a testament to what Houstonians have known for years. Whether you want to take in a show in the Theater District that boasts more than 12,000 seats, eat at one of the 11,000 restaurants, cheer on a local sports team or anything in between, Houston offers something for everyone

Q. Does the University of Houston Law Center offer students lockers?

A. There are no lockers at the existing law facility, however study carrels are available on a first come first serve basis for a fee.

Q. Where should I live?

A. Houston is a large city, and with that comes safety considerations. The area immediately surrounding the University of Houston is a less than desirable area. Students are encouraged to find on-campus housing, or to look in Midtown, Uptown, the Heights, Montrose, and Galleria area. Consider commuting issues such as public transportation accessibility and parking availability. A popular website for finding housing options is HAR.com

On-campus housing is a great option. The University Lofts are conveniently located across from the Law Center.

Q. What are the immigration and visa requirements?

A. Canadians students and their dependents require a Visa to study in the United States. The student will need to apply for F-1 Visa status and are required to do so independently. It is important that students take a very proactive approach in the Visa application process as there are many steps involved. Students must check in regularly with the application once submitted to ensure the Visa will be granted prior to the program start date.

Students must also check in with US customs and border patrol with the Visa once issued when entering the US to commence at the University of Houston.

It takes a few weeks to process the student Visa. Part of the process includes demonstrating that you have the capacity to pay the entire tuition amount.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires first-time F-1 visa holders to pay an I-901 SEVIS Fee to them. The fee is USD $200.

Students must apply for a social security number (SSN). A SSN is required if you plan on working while in Houston, and is also required for other things such as opening a bank account and activating utilities.

Upon arrival to the University of Houston, students are required to complete a New Student Check-in and Orientation.

Q. How do I get involved in student groups and organizations?

A. The University of Houston offers a number of student organizations.

There are a number of academic journals at the University of Houston, however these require applications, and in some cases, exclusive invitations based on GPA.

Students interested in joining a journal are required to submit a writing sample well in advance of the start of the fall school term. It is recommended that you reach out in March before leaving for Houston if you wish to participate on a journal or the Moot Court team in your first semester at the University of Houston.  

Q. How much is parking on campus?

A. There are a number of student lots on campus.

Q. What’s there to do here?

A. As a major US city, there is always something going on in Houston and many of the activities are free. From concerts, theater events, comedy shows, the Houston Rodeo, NASA Space Center, sporting events, and museums Houston has a lot to offer.

Q. Where do I buy groceries?

A. Houston has a good selection of independently owned grocery stores as well as the usual supermarket chains. There are also some excellent farmer’s markets and organic and health food shops. The most popular and reasonably priced supermarket in Houston are Trader Joe’s, Phoenicia Foods (for specialty, gourmet food), Jusgo (Asian food specialists) and the HEB Houston stores.

Q. How do I get around?

A. Former students suggest that a car is necessary for navigating Houston. If you are working or studying in the US, you can drive on your foreign license for 30 days. After 30 days, you must obtain a Texas driver license.

Houston has a public transportation system including rail and bus. There are also rideshare and taxi options.

Q. How do I get a driver license?

A. In order to obtain a Texas driver license, you must surrender your existing license.

Q. How do I get a bank account?

A. Once you have a US address, you can visit one of the Houston area banks to sign up for an account.

Q. How do I get health insurance?

A. The University of Houston requires international students to obtain adequate health insurance, and can do so directly from the University. The cost is added to your tuition bill, and amounts to approximately $2500 for the year.

Q. Are there areas of town I should avoid?

A. Houston is a large city, and with that comes safety considerations. The area immediately surrounding the University of Houston is a less than desirable area.

Financial

Q. What is the cost to apply to the IELP?

A. There is no cost to apply to the IELP for currently enrolled University of Calgary Faculty of Law students.

The application fee for students applying to the University of Houston Law Center is waived if students apply using the on-line application.

International applicants must pay a $75 fee to the Office of International Admissions (“OIA”) for student visa processing and foreign degree posting.

Q. What is the cost of tuition at the other school?

A. University of Calgary students pay the resident Texas tuition rate at the University of Houston. In 2018, this tuition was USD $31,021 per year.

It’s worthwhile to note that textbooks at the University of Houston are much more expensive. While there is an option to rent textbooks or purchase them through third party retailers, the overall expense will likely be greater.

Q. Are there scholarships?

A. The University of Calgary Faculty of Law has arranged for scholarships with the goal of reducing the tuition cost to that of Calgary’s tuition for each of the two years that students attend the IELP program at the University of Houston. Students seeking additional scholarships should refer to organizations including the Rocky Mountain Mineral Foundation and Association of International Petroleum Negotiators.

Please keep in mind that other than the scholarship(s) awarded when admitted to the IELP program students are no longer eligible for other University of Calgary scholarships once they have started at the University of Houston.

Q. Is attending class mandatory at the University of Houston?

Yes, the university has an 80% attendance policy. Professors track attendance in different ways.

Q. What is the cost of living in Houston?

A. Cost of living in Houston for a Canadian is highly dependent on the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar. The currency exchange fluctuates between 1.2-1.3.

While food, entertainment, and cellular phone plans are generally cheaper, certain necessities including car insurance are more expensive.

Rent can also be much higher in Houston than in Calgary. Students typically opt to live in nicer areas given the high rate of crime and flooding issues in certain neighborhoods.

Q. How do I pay tuition?

A. Tuition at the University of Houston can be paid electronically. There is an option for monthly instalment payments, but there is a fee involved.

Please keep in mind that there is a gap between the tuition deadlines and when the University of Calgary is able to disburse the scholarship funds. University of Calgary scholarships are generally paid out in two separate payments, one at the end of August and the other at the end of February.

There is an emergency deferment plan available for students who qualify.

Q. Can I apply for scholarships?

A. Depending on the eligibility requirements, students may qualify for scholarships. Organizations that have awarded IELP students in the past include The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators. Please note that some US scholarships require US citizenship.

Q. Where do I find information on writing the Bar exam in Texas?

A. The University of Houston website on deadlines, components, requirements and fees.

Students are also required to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).  Failure to register by the deadlines can result in the assessment of late fees.

Most students opt to take a bar prep class such as Barbri, Themis or Kaplan Bar Review. Depending on the course, this can cost USD $1000 - $3500.

More information on the bar exam and MPRE can be found from the Texas Board of Law Examiners and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination website.

More information about bar prep courses can be found here:

Academic

Q. Why is there an energy focus?

A. Calgary and Houston are the two-major oil and gas cities in North America. Energy is broad, and captures many areas of the law including corporate, IP, tax, and environmental law.

Q. How broad of Energy interests can students pursue through the IELP?

A. Most of our students have focused their participation in the program on the oil and gas industry. However, energy is much broader than the oil and gas industry and the program is open to accommodate those interests. Some students have elected to focus on renewable energy and the environment. Course material is offered at both institutions with a broad energy focus.

Q. What classes are available at the University of Houston?

A. Houston has a broad range of courses. Not all courses are offered every semester, but there is a large variety of course offerings at the University of Houston, particularly contract-based topics.

Q. What are the graduation requirements?

A. Students must complete the required courses at both schools. Students must plan their schedules carefully and are strongly encouraged to complete required courses as early as possible. Certain courses are offered only once a year, and no exceptions or accommodations can be made for deficiencies.

Q. When will I get my degree?

A. At the completion of the four-year IELP program, students concurrently earn their respective JD’s from the University of Houston and the University of Calgary.

Q. What about the bar exam?

The Texas Bar Exam is offered twice a year – once in February and once in July. Once you have completed studies at the University of Houston, you can elect to take the Texas Bar Exam (or any other state bar exam).

Q. When do I register for classes?

A. University of Houston law students register for courses one semester at a time, and one semester in advance. For example, registration for the Fall 2018 semester will be completed in the Spring 2018 semester.

Q. What classes do I take?

A. If you plan on taking the Texas Bar Exam, you should meet with your UHLC advisor to discuss which courses are most appropriate.

Q. When will I graduate?

A. At the completion of the four-year IELP program, students concurrently earn their respective JDs from the University of Houston and the University of Calgary.

UHLC will accept up to 30 hours of credit from Calgary towards the UHLC 90-credit degree. Calgary will accept up to 30 hours from UHLC towards the Calgary 98-credit degree.

Q. How do I plan my schedule to satisfy the requirements at both schools?

A. An academic advisor at your home school can assist with planning out your classes once you’ve been accepted into the program. Since 1L courses are pre-set, only your 2L courses need to be strategically planned so to ensure that the required courses that can only be completed at the University of Calgary are completed before you leave for Houston.

For assistance while at the University of Houston, contact Monica Mensah at mebuckne@Central.uh.edu

Q. What classes do I need to take?

A. UHLC will accept up to 30 hours of credit from Calgary towards the UHLC 90-credit degree. Calgary will accept up to 30 hours from UHLC towards the Calgary 98-credit degree.

Some graduation requirements can be completed at either school. However, there are certain courses such as Constitutional and Criminal Law that must be completed at both law schools. Please see the Sample Degree Plan for a list of requirements and information regarding where those courses must be taken. 

Students are encouraged to meet with their UHLC advisor on a regular basis to ensure that they remain on track to graduate.

Q. How do I plan for the Texas Bar Exam?

A. At the completion of your studies at the University of Houston, you may take the Texas Bar Exam in order to gain admission to the state Bar. The multi-day exam is administered in February and July. Prior to registering for the Texas Bar Exam, you must submit a Declaration of Intention. This can be completed any time after commencement of your studies at the University of Houston. This process includes completion of a comprehensive questionnaire and background check.

If you will be taking the Texas Bar Exam, consider the recommended preparation time of roughly 8 weeks. Most students opt to take a prep course.

Career

Q. What do employers think of this program?

A. Given the amount of cross-border activity, particularly in the energy business, employers recognize the value in knowing and practicing law in the two major energy markets in North America.

It is important to note that in both Calgary and Houston, employers generally want to see that you are committed to staying in the city you are applying for a job in.

Q. What is the long-term benefit?

A. The program allows students to develop a global network in a field of law that is particularly interconnected. Energy is a global industry with a variety of cross-border work. Knowing both sides of the law and being able to practice in both Alberta and Texas can create value and opportunities and sets our students up to progress as leaders in the profession.

Q. How do I get admitted to the bar in both places?

A. Admission to the Alberta bar requires a one-year articling program and completion of the CPLED program. Admission to the Texas bar requires completion of the Texas Bar Exam and Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).

Admission to other US bars are also possible when graduating from the University of Houston. The bar course would need to be taken for that jurisdiction/state and students should research eligibility for reciprocity among USA states should you wish to practice in a specific jurisdiction.

Q. When do classes start in Houston?  Does this require special arrangements with my summer employer?

A. The class schedule at the University of Houston starts earlier and runs longer due to longer breaks.

New students are encouraged to attend orientation in mid-August prior to the beginning of classes which is usually the third week of August.

Also, the spring semester exam period in Houston and the start date of your summer employment in Calgary may overlap. This may require you to arrange for accommodations with the University or your employer.

Q. Are there networking opportunities?

A. Both law schools offer a number of networking opportunities throughout the year. Networking in Houston requires students to actively seek out opportunities in many cases. The University of Houston Career Development Office (CDO) offers a full range of resources and services to assist students.

Q. When is the Calgary recruit, when and where do I apply and how does it work?

A. Students are able to participate in the University of Calgary 1L recruit in both their first and second years of law school.

Q. How do I participate in the 2L recruit in Calgary when I am in Houston in year 3?

A. Students in year 3 of 4 in the program, and who are in Houston, should consider networking with firms during their summer prior to leaving for Houston to support their applications in the 2L recruit. A flight back to Calgary for in-firm interviews (no OCIs take place in this recruit) will need to be booked, generally in early October or late September. Plan for 3 to 4 days of interviews, however it is very important to consult with the UCalgary Law career office in August to find out interview dates of Calgary firms so you can plan your flight accordingly.

Q. How do I participate in recruiting events at UHLC?

UHLC offers many recruiting programs varying in format and taking place across the span of each academic year. Their flagship recruiting programs include the On-Campus Interview Program (OCI), Small & Midsize Firm Open House, and Government & Public Interest Table Talk (GPITT). Additionally, many students and graduates find internship and permanent positions through their online job bank. All students enrolled in the IELP program can participate in any of their recruiting programs (permitting they meet the class level requirements).

At the end of your 2L year at the University of Calgary, you will be eligible to participate in UHLC’s largest recruiting program, On-Campus Interview Program (OCI): Session I. This session allows students the opportunity to interview with legal employers on campus. Keep in mind that employers review candidates primarily on their grades from the most recently completed terms. This process requires submitting applications in July, and the interview period is typically scheduled in the first week of August, before the commencement of your first term at the University of Houston.

It is important to get in touch with the University of Houston Law Center’s Career Development Office as early as possible to ensure that you do not miss the July application deadlines.

Chandria Jackson
Senior Career Specialist
4604 Calhoun Road
Bates Law Building, Suite 8
Houston, Texas 77204-6054
Phone: 713.743.2090
Fax: 713.743.2091
ctjacks5@central.uh.edu

There are more informal interview opportunities throughout the year, but students must take initiative by meeting with their career advisor in Houston and applying through Symplicity.

Career offices at both schools will assist students wanting to participate.

Q. What is goal of the internship program?

A. The goal of the internship program is to provide IELP students the opportunity to gain paid industry experience while enrolled in the program.  It is an invaluable opportunity to build your industry knowledge and networks.

Q. Who can apply to the IELP internship program?

A. Those students formally enrolled in the IELP, or those who have completed the mentorship program and have fully committed to enrolling in the IELP, are eligible to apply for IELP internships.  An internship enrollment form will be sent in early February to those who are enrolled in the program, or to those who have completed the mentorship program to be considered for industry internships.

Q. What internships have been available to students?

A. Prior IELP students have interned at Nexen in Houston and in Calgary, Inter Pipeline, the Canadian Institute of Resources Law and the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Most students seeking an internship have secured one but an internship is not guaranteed. Typically, students aim to secure an internship in the summer when they are not working with a firm.

IELP student internship placements are generally secured in late February and throughout March. Generally, interns are placed after the first year summer Calgary firm recruit is complete (after the Family Day week in Alberta).

For more information, contact Maryanne Forrayi at forrayim@ucalgary.ca.

Q. Will I be able to work in Houston while I am there for the second two years of the IELP?

A. If you plan to work while you are in Houston, it is critical that you meet with a University of Houston law school advisor and the International Student Services Office (ISSSO) to make sure all paperwork is in order and signed off to ensure you are working legally.

If you are a US citizen, there are no restrictions on your employment during law school. Canadian students are restricted to on-campus employment until they have completed 2 full-time semesters at the University of Houston.

The F-1 student visa granted to Canadian citizens studying in the United States allows for off-campus employment as early as the summer following the second completed semester at the University of Houston and you may be eligible to obtain this.The off-campus employment must be law-related.

Canadian citizens are responsible for securing the appropriate work authorization before embarking on any employment in the U.S. The University of Calgary, the University of Houston, and the IELP program are not responsible for verifying the work authorization of any IELP student.

Prior IELP students have clerked at various district courts, corporations, and law firms. There are also a number of opportunities to work for professors.

The University of Houston job bank, powered via Symplicity, updates throughout the year with postings. University of Houston law students are able to access this website once enrolled at the school.

For questions about Symplicity and job recruitment at UHLC, please contact Senior Career Specialist, Chandria Jackson at ctjacks5@central.uh.edu

Q. What resources are available to me for finding a job?

A. The University of Houston Career Development Office (CDO) offers a full range of resources and services to assist students. This includes individual career counseling, workshops, recruitment programs, and networking events. Upon arrival at the University of Houston, you will be instructed on how to access these services.

Support is also available through the UCalgary Career & Professional Development Office while students are in Houston.  For career advising, set up a phone or Skype meeting with Maryanne Forrayi, Director, at forrayim@ucalgary.ca.

For questions about postings/interview dates, contact Rachelle Paddington at paddingr@ucalgary.ca

Q. Is there mentorship?

A. The mentorship program run out of the University of Calgary provides an opportunity for first year students, who are currently studying at the University of Calgary and are seriously considering applying for the IELP, to be matched with an industry mentor for 8 weeks in November, December & January (not during exams) where they will be exposed to the energy industry through meetings, an energy-related project (approx. 15 to 20 hours total) and general mentorship discussion. For more information, contact Maryanne Forrayi at forrayim@ucalgary.ca.

Mentors generally come from industry and have included those from organizations such as Inter Pipeline, Apache, CITO Energy Law and the Alberta Utilities Commission.

The University of Houston also offers a mentorship program. Find out more.

Q. Is there career coaching?

IELP students are encouraged to set up an introduction meeting with Maryanne Forrayi, Director of the Career & Professional Development Office, as soon as they know they are interested in the IELP to discuss career interests and a plan of action. Regular meetings with the Director are encouraged.