Proposed law schools in Newfoundland and B.C. move forward

Profession grows despite concerns about too many lawyers


Law students of York University’s Osgoode Hall

Two Canadian universities are much closer this week to establishing law schools despite worries by some in the profession that there are already too many lawyers and that one of the schools would discriminate against sexual minorities.

Trinity Western University, a private Christian institution in Langley, B.C., announced Monday that the Federation of Law Societies of Canada approved its proposal for a law school despite the fact that TWU requires students to sign a covenant promising they won’t be sexually intimate with members of the same sex. More than 1,000 law students had signed a petition opposing approval of the law school while the B.C. Civil Liberties Association had backed the school.

TWU president Bob Kuhn said Monday, according press release, that he was pleased. “While the University does have strong religious roots,” he added, “it is committed to fully and comprehensively teaching all aspects of law including human rights, ethics and professionalism.”

The school would offer practical education in areas like not-for-profit law and entrepreneurial law.

From our Professional Schools issue: ‘I didn’t go to law school to become an academic”

In St. John’s, Nfld., an esteemed panel released a report last week endorsing a law school at Memorial University. When consulting people across the province, they found three main problems a school could address: a shortage of legal protection for disadvantaged groups, potential students who won’t leave the province due to aging parents or small children and a sense that Newfoundland and Labrador’s court decisions and common law remain largely unexamined without its own school.

They write that it’s financially feasible. Newfoundland’s economy is stronger than it was in 1987 when a law school was last considered. It would cost $26.1 million to build and roughly $5 million annually to run. Much of the cost could be covered by a tuition of $13,000 to $15,000 per year.

The panel analyzed the effect a law school would have on the local legal market. About 35 to 40 lawyers are called to the bar in Newfoundland each year and the law school would enroll about 80 new students annually who would be also be competing for articling jobs, the placements students need before they can be called for the bar, and for work once called to the bar. The report suggests the number of articling positions might adjust. They also suggest there is plenty of room to practice in under-served rural areas like Labrador, which has only one private lawyer, and in areas like immigration law. They point out that the majority of New Brunswick’s and Nova Scotia’s law students are from other provinces and most return home.

But students who return home to Ontario, which is home to about half of Canada’s lawyers, might struggle. Demand for articling jobs has been so high in recent years that the Law Society of Upper Canada will soon introduce a course-based program to certify new lawyers who can’t find placements.

From our Professional Schools issue: Do we really need so many lawyers?

Many have blamed Ontario’s shortage of articling positions on too many graduates. The University of Ottawa more than doubled its first-year class from 165 students in 1997 to 386 in 2013, according to Ontario University Application Centre statistics. The University of Windsor grew too.

Meanwhile, Queen’s University is considering expansion. A proposal suggests it could add 35 or 50 new students per year to the 165 currently taken in. It now gets 2,800 applications annually.

On top of that, Canada added two new law schools in the past two years after not adding any since 1978 when Moncton’s was inaugurated. In 2012, Thompson Rivers University’s opened with a class of 60 in Kamloops, B.C. Lakehead University’s opened this fall in Thunder Bay, Ont., also with a class of 60.

The increasing supply of lawyers may explain why, for the third straight year, the median income of a first-year associates has declined, hitting $66,000 or 13 per cent below the level in 2010, according to Canadian Lawyer. While that salary seems high to most, law students often have six-figure debts.

The good news is that a greater supply of lawyers may mean lower prices for consumers and increased access to justice. That’s an argument Memorial’s panel and TWU have both made.


Proposed law schools in Newfoundland and B.C. move forward

  1. It is written; so therefore it shall be? We are the chosen people; such a wicked fantasy.

    I am the son of a catholic father who never went to church and a protestant mother who took us to church and Sunday school. Onward christian soldiers; I think not. It’s such absolute drivel. To be manipulated by a santa claus; an easter bunny and worst of all a bogus cross?

    It’s now time to shut down the synagogues and churches with the torah & bibles with Leviticus 18:22 and Deuteronomy 13:12-16. To see the religious lunatics manipulate government and peoples’ lives — is shameful.

    Many theologians state quite correctly that the resurrection of Christ and other elements of christianity actually didn’t even happen! Churches are committing hate crimes and more succinctly a violent criminal offence against a federally protected minority namely the gay community. It is actually a bigger moment in history … gays standing up for equality … the realization that there is something far more evil at work — hateful religion which should be discharged from society – period.

  2. The Bible & Torah should be banned!

    Here are several really loving excerpts from the Torah; the first five books of the Old Testament in the bible — perhaps read to the congregation on Friday night at a synagogue or a Sunday morning church in the meadow.

    1. Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
    2. Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16
    3. Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7.

    Rabbinical / Priestly rules:
    Leviticus 21:17-18 … “No one who is blind or lame or has a defect or any blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.”
    Leviticus 18:22 … “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination ….”

    Rabbis; the pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to rabbis and priests … refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

    Being left-handed – being black or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is something that should be celebrated! If it is love between two guys or two girls … all the better … it takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

  3. More law education is really, really needed in Eastern and Western Canada. I am actually a little surprised that Memorial doesn’t have one especially with it’s well known Medical School and Business Faculty, not to mention that it’s the largest university on the East Coast.
    Here on the West Coast, I would much prefer and feel much more enthusiastic if UBC were to expland it’s Law School to Kelowna or Kamloops rather than a religious institution. I have been witness to the Social Work graduates of Trinity Western and in my opinion, they are not serving the population nor do they have any mission to do so. For example, they work at these “pregnancy options” centres that are largely funded by Focus on the Family where there are only two options put forth to the women. Can you imagine of you go back in time with Law School graduates with the same narrow practices?

    And in terms of your wording here on debt, ALL university grads have loads and loads of debt. EVERYone’s wages has to go up in order for them to cope and actually have any money leftover to put back in the economy or consider having a family. As things stand right now, most people who have graduated with debt in the past 13 years or so are choosing not to have children. Why should nurses and doctors get all of the incentives, debt forgiveness etc. There are other professions that contribute just as strongly to our overall way of living.

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