Federation of Law Societies Approves Programs of Two New Law School Hopefuls

The Federation of Law Societies announced today that the Ad Hoc Committee on Approval of New Canadian Law Degree Programs had lived up to its name and approved the programs proposed by Lakehead University in Ontario and Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. This national hurdle was established by agreement among the provincial law societies in 2009 as a logical outgrowth of the Federation’s decision in 2007 to establish Canada-wide academic requirements for all Canadian law degrees, a process culminating in the approval by member societies of a set of National Requirements in 2010.

Lakehead University must still gain the approval of the Ontario government, as I understand it. While the proposed law school at Thompson Rivers has already received the approval of the B.C. government. The latter plans to operate using the program from the University of Calgary. From the Federation report:

Pursuant to a Licence Agreement entered into with the University of Calgary, the Thompson Rivers JD degree is proposed to be offered in conjunction with the University of Calgary which has granted to Thompson Rivers the licence to reproduce and use the undergraduate law programme and curriculum of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law.

The Ad Hoc Committee report is available in PDF and contains a chart showing the alignment of the applications of both universities with the Federation’s national requirements. The full proposals of Lakehead and Thompson Rivers are also available on the Federation website.

At present there are twenty operating law schools in Canada.


  1. I don’t think we need more law schools. In Canada there aren’t enough articling positions for the students already in school, and current law schools are continuing to increase their intake in order to make more money for cash-strapped universities. Where are all these students going to go? I fear we will be taking in more students than there is capacity in the market. If there were plenty of articling positions available, I’d think differently, but that is not the case.

    I’d rather have more medical schools thank you very much.

  2. As a recent law school graduate, I can say there is no need for new law schools. As Sue mentions articling positions are already hot commodities. Even more problematic, however, is the fact that many new graduates face lengthy periods of unemployment looking for work, and some law school graduates simply fail to find work as lawyers. Of course, all this is leaving aside the significant debt most students must take-on to complete law school. This debt really limits the willingness/ability of law school graduates to hang their own shingle or to take positions in the public interest. More law schools will do nothing to address access to justice issues. We need more bursaries and debt forgiveness programs, and we need a change of culture in the legal profession. Those are the only changes that will increase access to justice. It would simply be madness for the Ontario government to approve a law school at Lakehead.

  3. Law Students for a Fair Profession

    Sue and Chris: I totally agree with what you are both saying. Unfortunately most senior members of the profession don’t seem to be able to see this as the problem that it is. Thank you so much for sharing your views. I’ll be responding to this piece on my blog within the next couple of days. Peace, lsffp.

  4. I don’t have a serious problem with more law schools — we’re probably going to have a shortage of lawyers in about 10-15 years, so it’s reasonable to anticipate a growing demand. What we don’t need is more law schools that are exactly like the 20 incumbent faculties, which are churning out undergraduate-level programs of legal doctrine and case law study with core curricula that haven’t changed since the 1950s. Innovative, solution-oriented, client-focused, access-minded law degrees would be a boon to the profession and the country. I’m not optimistic that either of these new schools will deliver anything of the sort, but the opportunity is there if they have the courage to grasp it.