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Archive for the ‘Legal Education’ Columns

The Law Schools and the Future of Indigenous Law in Canada

The recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have presented Canadian society with a set of urgent ‘calls to action.’ Two in particular require a response from the law schools, Recommendations 27 and 28, quoted in full at the end of this blog post – although, as I argue below, our concern should extend between the particular terms of those recommendations.

Law schools are earnestly considering what they ought to do to respond to those calls. At least four schools (Lakehead, Thompson Rivers, Ottawa (Common Law) and my own, UVic) have posted preliminary responses on their websites. Individual scholars (such . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

What to Read Before Starting Law School

This fall an estimated 2800 students will begin their three-year journey for a J.D. degree at one of Canada’s 18 Common Law Schools (there are 23 law schools in total in Canada).[1] If they are anything like I was some 23 years ago, these students are excited but apprehensive. The vast majority of new law students have had no contact with the legal system and have not taken any law-related courses. Their knowledge of law comes from popular culture. For me this was L.A. Law, Inherit the Wind, Perry Mason and To Kill a Mockingbird. For today’s law students, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Ethics

Integrating the Profession in Experiential Legal Education

Experiential legal education has been the subject of numerous papers, conferences, and innovative curriculum changes in the United States in the past decade. In October 2012 the first National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law was held at Northeastern University in Boston. I attended that symposium, and came away inspired by the topics and discussions.

In June 2014 the Second National Symposium on Experiential Education in Law took place at Elon University in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law and Elon University School of Law hosted the symposium. To my regret, I was unable to attend . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Future of Legal Practice and Technology for Law Professors

One of my pet peeves is when people throw around the word “technology” as a catch all to mean anything that can or will involve a computer. A common pattern is “In X number of years, this task will be replaced by TECHNOLOGY.” The speakers very rarely get into specifics as to when technology they mean. Personally, I like to amuse myself by replacing “technology” in these statements with “magic fairies.” Actually, I think fairies are more likely to exist than some technology that is universally adopted and solves myriad problems.

If you’re like me, you probably feel like the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Law School Laboratory

As a librarian, I’ve been trying to avoid talking about libraries in this column. Mainly because there is already a legal information column on Slaw and I wanted to keep talking about “true” law school issues.

Then I realized I was being an idiot and part of the problem that plagues libraries.

What sparked my realization was reading a couple of closely timed items. Item the first was a article on Above the Law about Washington & Lee School of Law’s Strategic Transition Plan. In reference to the plan’s “Operating budgets will be reduced by 10 percent in 2015-16 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

What Makes a Law School Great?

What makes a law school great? What should a law school curriculum seek to accomplish in light of the school’s obligations to its students, its university, the pursuit of knowledge, the profession, and society as a whole? What should a law school strive to be?

Every law school has to answer these questions one way or another, and events of the last few years – the crises of American legal education and Canadian articling, and global and technological shifts in the legal services market – have given them greater urgency.

In this column I want to share my own law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Ethics

To Tenure, or to Not Tenure – That Is the Question

Tenure is one of those sticky academic topics. Those on the outside of the acadame wonder why anyone would or should be granted a “job for life.” On the inside, the question was not “if” we should have tenure, but “who.” Throughout the entirety of my career as an Academic Law Librarian and Legal Research Professor, my colleagues and I debated with the question of whether or not we should be (1) tenure track and, if so, (2) considered part of the law school faculty and invited to participate in the governance of the school.

At the time, I held . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Family Law Grant = Experiential Education = A2J

Legal Aid Ontario announced recently that it was committing $2 million to the six legal clinics at Ontario law schools to allow them to create or expand family law services.

This is the kind of creative thinking that we need in the justice system as we tackle the issue of our generation in law: access to justice. But it’s not just access to justice that will be improved; students will receive the experiential education that will enhance what they learn in the classroom.

Our clinic here at Western Law is one of the recipients of this grant. We have used . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Access to Justice: An Opportunity for Law Schools – Part 2

The CBA’s Equal Justice Report

In my last column, I focused on the Canadian Bar Association’s Access to Justice report released in December, entitled Equal Justice: Balancing the Scales (disclaimer – I am a member of the committee). The committee proposed 31 targets to achieve access to justice in Canada. The report can be found here.

Some of the access to justice targets involved Canadian law schools. They provide an opportunity for law faculties to modernize their curriculum while playing a significant role in the biggest legal issue of our generation.

In this column I will focus on some . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Las Vegas System

My criminal law professor was the stuff of nightmares. His name was Christo Lassiter and prior to joining the legal acadme, he was a prosecutor for the United States Marine Corps JAGs. Imagine The Paper Chase’s Prof. Kingsfield with the ability to shoot an M-16. That was our Professor Lassiter.

In the spring of my 1L year, a group of female law students decided to join the university intramural softball league. It seemed like a good way to relieve stress, even if most of us were creaking towards 30 (…ha!) and our opponents were going to be 20 year . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Access to Justice: An Opportunity for Law Schools – Part 1

The CBA’s Equal Justice Report
The Canadian Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee issued its final report in December, entitled Equal Justice: Balancing the Scales (disclaimer – I am a member of the committee). The committee proposed 31 targets to achieve access to justice in Canada. The report can be found here: http://www.cba.org/CBA/equaljustice/main/.

What isn’t well known is that some of these access to justice targets involved Canadian law schools. They provide an opportunity for law faculties to modernize their curriculum while playing a significant role in the biggest legal issue of our generation.

Last fall at the University . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Massively Overhyped Obfuscated Concept – MOOCs in Legal Education

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any education related publication in the 21st century must at some point cover the topic of MOOCs. So let’s get it out of the way, shall we?

As a known supporter of open content and technology, as well as someone who works in education, I like to pretend that people are dying to ask me, “Sarah, are MOOCs going to save law schools?”

My answer? No. No they are not.

Okay, I guess I could flesh this answer out a bit, and not just because I should have about 800 more words . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education