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A new school year, lots of new offerings

|Written By Heather Gardiner
A new school year, lots of new offerings
Photo: Thinkstock

The days are getting cooler — a sign that fall is just around the corner — which also means it’s time to go back to school.

As students stock up on the latest supplies, Canadian law schools are also getting ready for the start of a new school year. Here is just a taste of some of the exciting things happening at law schools across the country this fall:

Canada’s first new law school in more than 30 years will open at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. Chief law librarian Mary Hemmings has now been added to its faculty.

Recently appointed dean of law at the University of Western Ontario Iain Scott is following up on his plan to expand Western law’s global footprint with the hiring of two new professors, Nina Khouri and Peter Sankoff, both of whom have taught at the University of Auckland Faculty of Law in New Zealand.

Khouri brings a world of experience with her, having studied and worked in New Zealand, Australia, England, and New York. She says dispute resolution is rapidly changing around the world and she wants to convey that to students. “I want to give my students a taste of what’s happening, and I guess prepare them for it,” says Khouri.

Darren O’Toole, a new professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, hopes to bring his personal experience to the classroom. Being of Métis background, he plans to introduce more traditional law into his aboriginal law course.

“[Aboriginal law is] mostly about what I call ‘colonial law.’ It’s about Canadian law or British law that applies to Aboriginal Peoples and not about their own legal systems. And so what I’d like to work towards is introducing more traditional law,” he says.

For students with a yearning for the great outdoors, the University of Victoria Faculty of Law is offering a new concentration in environmental law and sustainability. The school recently established a partnership with the Hakai Beach Institute. The program offers a two-week course that takes place on Calvert Island, B.C., at Hakai’s research centre.

UVic law dean Donna Greschner says the new course is already gaining popularity. “It had a long wait list, lots of people wanted to take the course. . . . I have been up there, it’s really beautiful.”

For those with a political itch, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law is offering some exciting new courses, including a human rights and international politics course led by former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. The course will look at some of the dilemmas that can arise when human rights influence public policy.

With an emphasis on experiential learning, Osgoode Hall Law School has added new clinical programs to its curriculum, including an intellectual property law and technology intensive program and an anti-discrimination intensive program.

Professor Faisal Bhabha, who recently joined the faculty, says Osgoode is making experiential learning a mandatory part of its JD program by requiring all incoming students to take at least one clinical or experiential learning course.

Osgoode is also gearing up for the launch of its renovated building in October.

The University of British Columbia Faculty of Law moved into its new $56-million building Allard Hall last week, named in honour of UBC graduate Peter Allard who contributed $11.86 million to the faculty.

And for those whose law school dreams seem unattainable, the Law Society of Manitoba has set up a forgivable loan program at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law. The program provides financial assistance to a student from an under-serviced community who is entering law school.

Brenda Silver, the law society’s director of professional education and competence, says the program was created to improve access to justice for under-serviced communities. “There are significant problems with populations not having enough lawyers to service them,” she says.

The chosen student will receive up to $25,000 a year for three years as a forgivable loan. If the student returns to his or her community to practise, the loan will be forgiven by 20 per cent each year for up to five years, essentially paying for the student’s entire legal education.

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