Trinity Western wants to open its own law school

Private university would have B.C.’s fourth law program


Photo by Joe Gratz/Flikr

Trinity Western University, a privately-funded Christian school in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, wants to open its own law school. As Canadian Lawyer Magazine reports, Trinity Western hopes for approval from the provincial government and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada within the next six to 12 months. The school envisions a three-year JD program that will take its first cohort of 60 students in September 2015.

If approved, the law program will be the fourth in B.C. Last year, Thompson Rivers University opened the province’s third law school in Kamloops.

Given that there is a national shortage of articling positions for law graduates, the decision to open new programs seems curious. But, as Trinity Western associate professor Janet Epp Buckingham told Canadian Lawyer Magazine, the school will hire an articling coordinator to help place students in positions post-graduation, and will encourage them to consider setting up shop in smaller communities. “The whole focus is really going to be on building skills alongside building legal analysis and understanding so that when students graduate from the law school they would be able to go into a small firm already with skills that they can use and apply,” she told the magazine.


Trinity Western wants to open its own law school

  1. Not only is there a national shortage of articling positions, there is definitely not a shortage of lawyers in most of British Columbia – especially in the Lower Mainland where this school will be located. It is nonsense that students will go up to practice in Fort St. John. Experience has shown that grads from the new law school in Kamloops settle in Kamloops; they don’t go up to the Yukon and now even the interior is become over lawyers. In the USA, there are law schools at every corner yet legal fees are even higher there than in Canada so the consumer doesn’t benefit. No the biggest winner are the law schools who will take big fat tuition cheques from the students only to leave them high and dry when school is over. Law graduates and junior lawyers (the young) will be the biggest losers from this proposal. Expect more frivolous law suits and unemployed university grads.

    • Yes the States. If you look at the stats, the market is so flooded with law grads from every corner store law school that even roughly half of the grads one year out from many credible state schools (U of W in Seatle for example) are unemployed or underemployed (not working in full time permanent law jobs). At poor small schools, the stats are horrific – maybe only 30% of grads actually can secure work they want one year after graduation. But this isn’t only because the universities are flooding the market with the law students, it is because practice is changing. The demand for junior lawyers (note I say lawyers not articling students as there is no articling in the USA) is decreasing at both small and big firms. The reasons are many but much of the low end transactional work has been computerized, systematized and parcelled out to non-lawyers such as insurance companies, paralegals, banks, offshore researc/office services in India etc. Further, clients just aren’t willing to pay the big bucks anymore to have juniors gain experience on their dime. There is cost cutting in every field and law is no exception. Clients want experience and value for the money and this is crimping the demand for lawyers in general and young lawyers in particular. It is a tough market for young lawyers and I am so glad I am not in law school now (and paying outrageous tuition fees to support administrative empires at universities – the one area of the economy where there is not enough cost cutting ironically).

  2. I fear having to go to this horrid, backwards school just because no where else will take me.

    We need to make a serious effort to avoid letting the legal practice turn into what’s happened to the States. Don’t give these guys a law school!

  3. Dear KDH…
    As a student currently in a highly praised program at Trinity Western, I can assure you this is no “horrid, backwards school”. In fact, it is an Academic institution that moves forward in every way, pouring into the local, national, and international communities at every chance. The province of BC and and our global community would only benefit from having a Law school put in place. You who are slow to listen and quick to speak could learn something from the school of Trinity Western. Just search google for examples of how they shine in Business, Nursing, Sciences, Humanities, Sports, and all other programs offered. Best School in my humblest opinion.

  4. Good school or bad school, this is precisely the wrong time for a new law faculty at TWU. Increasing the number of law graduates has been proven time and time again that it does not improve access to justice: in fact the US example proves quite the opposite. What it will do is to increase inefficiencies in the labour market by luring students on to complete seven years of study in a professional program only to have a high chance they will be unemployed or underemployed when they could have used that time to study or work at something else. Right now is a particularly bad time given that there is quite a crunch for law grads to find work as the supply far exceeds the demand.Law school is a professional program like Medicine or Dentistry. It can’t be compared to a BA which is not meant to be a professional program. As far as the Orovince is concerned, the current government can’t even properly fund the current justice system or pay for legal aid or hire judges. Expanding the personnel right now in the BC justice system would be insane – the courts couldn’t handle it even if the TWU grads could find work easily.

  5. Matt, I don’t know how BC will benefit from your school’s proposal. There is no right to attend law school per se any more than it is your right to attend pharmacy or medical school. The problem is that TWU’s proposal is to open a school in the Lower Mainland, an area that is definitely not underserviced by lawyers. I am searching for a good argument in favour of opening up yet another school and I can’t find any.

  6. In granting TWU accreditation, the B.C. Law Society is giving public endorsement to TWU’s practice of discriminating against members of the LGTBQ community and, further, granting legitimacy, in the public sphere, to TWU’s Christian view that homosexuality is wrong. This public endorsement is not in the public interest. Worse yet, this is a detriment to our society’s gruelling, long-fought battle to recognize the human rights of all members of the LGTBQ community and their right to be treated equally. The decision to accredit TWU was wrong: http://wp.me/p4A1wz-4

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