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Archive for the ‘Legal Education’ Columns

The End of the Saga of Bill C-75 and Student Legal Clinics

The Story So Far

The saga of Bill C-75 and its impact on student legal clinics has staggered to an end – sort of. Unfortunately a significant access to justice issue remains. Here is a brief summary of what happened.

When Bill C-75 was introduced by the federal government in 2018, the bill raised the maximum penalty for summary conviction offences to two years. However, the bill did not amend s. 802.1, which stated that “agents” (including law students and articling students) can only appear on criminal matters in summary conviction matters where the maximum penalty is six months.

Law . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

A Life Well-Lived in Legal Education and Beyond: Ian Kerr (1965-2019)

On August 27, 2019, my friend and colleague at the uOttawa Faculty of Law Ian Kerr passed away due to complications arising from cancer. He was only 54 years old.

Ian was a giant in his field. A visionary in AI and Ethics who thought about the implications of autonomous vehicles before they even had a name. He was a teacher who deeply cared about his students. He was a researcher who supported, mentored and championed his colleagues. But most of all he was our friend and we miss him dearly.

When Ian left us, tributes flowed in from around . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Theory and Practice: The Four Defining Pillars of Ryerson’s Faculty of Law

The Ryerson Faculty of Law is built on four pillars – a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, increasing access to justice, stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship, and providing sound academics with innovation pedagogy.

Ryerson’s proposal was shaped by widespread consultations within the university and in the broader legal community. This included continuous community engagement, solid academic input and feedback, stakeholder engagement, engagement with organizations representing lawyers from diverse backgrounds, and a comprehensive external review of the draft proposal.

In creating and refining a proposal for legal education at Ryerson, two separate internal committees were established. The first was a cross-campus . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Les Facultés de Droit Ont-Elles Un Rôle À Jouer Afin de Favoriser La Progression Et La Rétention Des Avocates?

Les salles de classe des facultés de droit sont remplies d’étudiantes. À l’Université Laval, elles forment près de 70 % de la nouvelle cohorte admise au baccalauréat en droit à l’automne 2018. Au Québec, plus de 65 % des diplômés de l’École du Barreau sont des femmes.

Pourtant, les statistiques montrent que les avocates abandonnent la profession beaucoup plus tôt que leurs confrères (en moyenne 49 ans comparativement à 61 ans chez les hommes, selon les statistiques du Barreau du Québec). Les femmes sont très nombreuses à quitter la pratique du droit au cours des 10 premières années, cette période . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Do Law Schools Have a Role to Play in Promoting the Advancement and Retention of Women Lawyers?

Law school classrooms are filled with female students. At Université Laval, in fall 2018, female students made up nearly 70% of the new cohort admitted to the Bachelor of Laws program. In Quebec, more than 65% of graduates from the École du Barreau (Bar School) are women.

Yet, statistics show that women lawyers leave the profession much earlier than their male colleagues (at age 49 vs. 61, on average, according to Quebec Bar statistics). Many women leave the practice of law during the first 10 years, a period considered crucial for career advancement. Inevitably, they are less likely to become . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Update on Threats to Student Legal Clinics

The past two months have seen rapid developments dramatically harming Ontario (and Canadian) student legal clinics, whose role is to help low income persons who do not have access to legal aid.

1. Legal Aid Cuts in Ontario

First, the Ontario government has taken steps to reduce access to justice for low income persons by reducing funding to Legal Aid Ontario by 30%. LAO in turn funds Ontario’s student clinics, providing the vast majority of their funding. LAO announced in mid-June that student clinics will suffer funding cuts of 10%.

Along with cuts from student fees (see below), Ontario student . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Another Threat to Student Legal Clinics – This Time From Ontario

The Ontario government dropped a bombshell on its legal aid system in its April 11 budget, hitting it with a 30% funding cut, with more to come in future years.

The province spoke of transforming the legal aid system. However, there is no underlying plan from the province – simply cuts. Legal Aid Ontario has to move quickly to implement the cuts, which apply to the 2019-20 budget. At the time of writing, it is unclear where the cuts will be made, although refugee services will end.

The impact on community clinics and student legal clinics is not yet clear. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

A Tribute to David W. Scott, OC, QC, LL.B 1960 (1936-2019)

On March 21, 2019, the Canadian legal profession lost a giant of the bar: David Scott passed away in Ottawa after a sudden hospitalization. I regret that I did not get a chance to see David in the hospital or tell him how much he meant to the University of Ottawa law school, to our profession and to me. I can only offer this tribute instead.

David Scott represented the very best of our profession. He was recognized for his accomplishments with the highest honours our profession provides. That he was the first Canadian ever to be elected President of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Practice of Law

Law Schools in the International Sphere: The University of Montreal Experience

Law schools have historically been deeply anchored in their local communities. They train jurists who serve, and often lead, these communities. They operate legal clinics that seek to help the most vulnerable members of society. They produce research that, hopefully, improve the legal frameworks governing the life of citizens and the fate of organizations.

But over the years, many law schools have broadened, or pluralized, their definition of the word “community.” Even if it is a cliché to say so, the world has shrunk. As a result, not only are law schools increasingly active on the world stage, the world . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Bill C-75 Goes to the Senate, Still Threatens Student Legal Clinics

Bill C-75, the Criminal Code amendment statute, passed the House of Commons in late 2018, and has received first reading in the Senate.

The bill could wipe out the criminal law practices in student legal clinics in most provinces across Canada. For decades now, student legal clinics across Canada have been representing low income persons for summary conviction criminal offences. These clients are not eligible for legal aid, and would be unrepresented except for the work done by law students to assist them. Each year, hundreds of low income persons will be left to defend themselves.

Why has this happened? . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Need for Law in an Age of STEM

There has never been a time in our history when law was more needed than it is today. And there has never been a time in our history when we have taken law for granted as much as we do today.

We live in an age of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) but we are fortunate to also live in a society governed by the Rule of Law. The products of STEM are everywhere around us. The Rule of Law, on the other hand, is largely invisible. The Rule of Law is like the oxygen that we breathe: invisible, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Cost of Becoming a Lawyer

The Law Students Society of Ontario (the “LSSO”) recently surveyed Ontario law students to better understand the debt load experienced by them and its effect on them. The LSSO Report provides important insights into the effects of increased law school tuition costs.

The LSSO Report has been well received and rightly so. However, the point of this column is not just to laud the report but to engage with it and its observations. In order to seriously address the observations in the LSSO Report, it is necessary to consider the report and to look at the cost of becoming a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Ethics