Building Bonds and Working Together

Recently, I read this post from the University of Manitoba’s news feed about how pharmacy technician students from the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) are being trained through the university. The two institutions, U of M and MITT are working together in a unique way delivering a multi-disciplinary, peer-led education experience. Here’s how it works:

“…students from Pharmacy, Social work, and Rehabilitation Sciences provided a presentation to Pharmacy Technician students, teaching the role of each practitioner within a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.”

Advit Shah, (B.Sc. Pharm, U of M) Pharmacy Technician Program Coordinator at MITT and event organizer says of the program:

“It’s about building bonds and working together. The technicians can help the pharmacist refer patients to other healthcare professionals now that they know their function. And it works in the opposite direction as well. These other healthcare students and professionals get a chance to see what our technicians can do.”

Did you catch that? Professionals who ultimately will work together and cross-refer to one another are building bonds and learning to collaborate and understand each other’s profession while still students. Isn’t that brilliant?

Are law schools doing this? Lawyers regularly refer to, consult and work with a wide range of experts, from accountants to business valuators to social workers and the medical professions. But are there cross-sectoral training opportunities in law schools? If not, shouldn’t there be?

The CBA’s Futures report is generating a lot of conversation around its recommendations permitting alternative practice models, including alternative business structures. These are surely important issues deserving of serious consideration by lawyers, bar associations and law societies.

But the alternative practice models recommendation also proposes that lawyers be permitted to work in a multi-disciplinary model. It is this aspect of the recommendation that I find most compelling and full of possibility, yet I’ve not heard much discussion about it.

With respect to the future of legal education, the Futures report also suggests:

 “In addition, new models for education and training should offer new opportunities for collaboration – just as lawyers will need to work more closely with other professionals in the practice of law, so too should the stakeholders educating and training legal professionals.”

I’m interested to know more about if and how this is happening already in Canadian law schools and whether any steps are being taken in this direction to better prepare students for the future of legal practice in a world where at least some of the walls between disciplines are surely coming down. Do you know of any examples of law schools building bonds and working together with other faculties and professional programs?


  1. Collaborative Family Law, or Collaborative Practice is an interdisciplinary approach that trains lawyers, mental health professionals and financial professionals to work in teams to help separating families. An introduction to Collaborative Practice is offered in some law schools but unfortunately the adversarial lawyer-driven approach is still taught as mainstream. I read an article recently about Denver University conducting a pilot project using families referred out of the court system to address separation issues with law students as well as students from other disciplines at the university. The approach was definitely interdisciplinary. While this appeared to reflect a Collaborative Practice approach, Collaborative Practice was only referred to once in passing in the article…