Gabrielle Giroday is the editor of Law Times. She is a journalist and former government spokeswoman who has won awards for her work in both media and public service. She has experience writing and communicating about legal and justice issues, foreign affairs, gender issues, and economic analysis for publications across Canada.
|Kim Stanton says the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund is pleased about a decision to grant status to Lynn Gehl, an Algonquin-Anishnaabe woman.|
The case Gehl v. Canada (Attorney General), 2017 ONCA 319 hinged on the unknown identity of Gehl’s paternal grandfather, which was required for her to be registered, but that she argued was discriminatory, because “the mother of a child will always be known, but there will frequently be situations where the Indian mother of a child either does not know the identity of the father of her child, or cannot reveal that identity except at unacceptable personal cost.”
In the ruling, it was determined that Gehl could be registered under the Indian Act, because she had “presented evidence from which it could be inferred that her paternal grandfather had status.”
“The circumstantial evidence advanced by Dr. Gehl is capable of supporting an inference that her paternal grandfather was of aboriginal ancestry; his baptismal certificate indicates her father was born on the reserve; his godparents were members of the reserve community; he resided on the reserve during his childhood; there is no record of his being denied participation in the activities of the community,” said the ruling by Justice Robert J. Sharpe, with Justice Peter D. Lauwers and Justice Bradley Miller concurring. “In the circumstances of an historical claim such as this one, it is sufficient for the claimant to provide some evidence capable of giving rise to the inference that an unknown father may have had status, which constitutes sufficient proof of paternity for the purposes of the legislation, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary.”
The judges agreed the case should not be sent back to the administrative decision maker, as it would be “pointless since there is only one possible outcome,” granting Gehl to be registered under the Indian Act as the child of one parent with full status.
Kim Stanton, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund’s legal director, said the ruling was a “huge relief” because Gehl had been involved in the legal fight since 1994.
“We’re very delighted with Justice Sharpe’s ruling, and extremely pleased for Dr. Gehl, with the outcome. It’s so important [that she] be granted the dignity of registration,” says Stanton.
However, she says there is much farther to go after attempts to fix discriminatory aspects of the law. Stanton pointed to the federal bill S-3, an Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration).
“LEAF appeared before both the Senate committee and the House committee looking into that Act, to say, ‘Listen, it’s not OK to do this piece-meal, you keep trying to fix sex discrimination in this act little bit by little bit, and what you need to do is once and for all remove sex discrimination from this act,’” says Stanton. “This is yet another decision that says to the government that that is what they must do.”
Gehl was represented by Mary Eberts, Christa Big Canoe and Emilie Lahaie, while Christine Mohr and Andrea Bourke acted for the Attorney General of Canada.
Renee Pelletier and Krista Nerland acted for the intervener, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
The Attorney General of Canada did not provide comment on the ruling by deadline.
|Lionel Martens says it’s expected a new digitized system for land titles in Manitoba will ‘expedite the registration process and thereby facilitate the earlier release of funds to clients.’|
As part of launching eRegistration, individuals or groups who submit more than 500 documents per year for registration will be required to start using the system by April 2018.
“We expect that lawyers will see a reduction in their courier and postage costs, because this will now be sent electronically, there will be no need to schlep documents between offices, between law firms, between law firms and banks, or whoever their clients are, and between the law firms and our office,” says Nancy Anderson, the registry’s general manager.
In October 2018, people or groups who submit more than 100 documents per year will be required to begin using the system. For those who use the registry on a more infrequent basis, paper-based forms will still be available.
The registry receives about 165,000 documents for registration per year, says Anderson, and lawyers are the registry’s largest group of clients.
“What eRegistration will mean is that clients will submit essentially two types of electronic forms, one is a smart fillable form, and that’s for four of the most common of our documents, which are caveats, discharges, mortgages and transfers of land,” says Anderson. These represent about 76 per cent of our documents, she says.
“They can also register the remaining documents, which will be paper forms, but they’ll submit a scanned copy and then go through the eRegistration portal,” she says.
Ontario has e-registration, and according to Teranet, as of March 2011, approximately 99.9% of properties in Ontario were recorded under the Land Titles System and had been automated from paper-based to electronic form.
Lionel Martens, chair of the real estate department at Fillmore Riley LLP in Winnipeg, said the new system is “a major departure from the old written prescribed forms which contained blanks or statements for manual completion or deletion.”
“That tended to result in more mistakes,” he said.
“The new smart forms are much easier to populate as they prompt the user with appropriate options and drop down boxes as the user completes the document.
If boxes have not been completed, the user cannot lock the document for signature and must go back into the document to complete the missing information.”
Martens said it’s expected the “e-registration process will also expedite the registration process and thereby facilitate the earlier release of funds to clients.”
“Our clients sometimes get frustrated when we tell them that we cannot use the proceeds from the sale of their homes to discharge their mortgages or pay out to them until registrations are completed in the land titles office, a process that currently takes from five to 10 business days,” he said.
“With e-registration we are hopeful this wait period will be substantially reduced and clients will have quicker access to their funds.”
|Miriam Cohen’s project will be funded by a $23,500 grant from the Canadian Bar Association’s Law for the Future Fund.|
Cohen’s project will be funded by a $23,500 grant from the Canadian Bar Association’s Law for the Future Fund.
The database will focus on what Cohen says are “leading cases” from tribunals from all Canadian provinces and territories, as well as at the federal level. In the summaries and analysis of the cases contained in the database, Cohen says plain language will be used.
“[For] the database, the clientele or the audience will be the main, general population,” says Cohen. “The focus of the project is to try to make it as user-friendly as possible, so not too complex.”
Cohen has experience in legal advisory roles at the United Nation’s International Court of Justice and at the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court, and she was a research fellow at Harvard Law School and served as a rapporteur to an expert committee on a draft convention on crimes against humanity. She joined Lakehead University in July 2015.
The database will consolidate information from cases across Canada into one place, creating a “very specific database for human rights.”
For example, Cohen says a person who feels they have been discriminated against could use the database, to figure out if they could pursue a case, if they have no background in human rights law.
“In each province, we’re selecting the leading cases so it won’t be a database like Canlii or other databases that exist — or even the websites of the tribunals that have all the cases — but rather, we’re doing the filtering of cases that would be the leading cases for the grounds of discrimination in that specific province, in that tribunal,” she says.
The goal is to have the database ready by the end of the year, and potentially, more information added next year on an ongoing basis.
Cohen says another large part of the project will be writing an academic article for a peer-reviewed journal in Canada.
The article will focus on comparing and contrasting different types of human rights legislation and also “where the jurisprudence is at,” says Cohen.
|Douglas Elliott says a lawsuit filed by two gay men in response to a group that disrupted the 2016 Pride parade in Toronto is receiving extensive support from the community.|
The lawsuit was filed by two gay plaintiffs, George Smitherman, former deputy premier of Ontario, and Christopher Hudspeth, a community activist, after a group of people led by William Whatcott posed as members of the made-up Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumers Association, and attended the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade.
At the parade, the group handed out 3,000 leaflets that “warned of the health risks and moral depravity of sexual conduct engaged in by gay men and encouraged gay men to repent and accept the Christian faith,” said the ruling.
The plaintiffs sought more than $100 million in damages in relation to the incident, based on claims of “civil conspiracy to injure, defamation, and intentional infliction of mental distress,” and was brought on behalf of members of the LGTBTQ2SI (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, transsexual, queer, Two Spirit and intersex) community.
“In the case at bar, the design of [the plaintiff’s] claim for the Marchers, really the LGTBTQ2SI Community, is to act as public prosecutors for a hate crime. However, tort law focuses on providing compensation for the harms suffered by individuals leaving it for the criminal law to respond to the crimes suffered by society including the group that has been victimized,” said Perell, in his ruling, concluding the statement of claim “as a proposed class action does not disclose a reasonable cause of action for civil conspiracy to injure and that this claim also does not satisfy the cause of action criterion for a class proceeding.”
Douglas Elliott, who is representing the plaintiffs, says they have received extensive support from the community in relation to the case.
“We’re very pleased with the decision to require Mr. Whatcott to reveal his backers,” he says. “That is obviously the right decision, because what he did is dishonest, and I think the court made the right decision to expose the other people who are involved in this.”
Charles Lugosi, who represented the defendants, said he will be seeking leave to appeal the case.
Justin Safayeni of Stockwoods LLP, who was not involved in the case, said the decision “is an important reminder that it is very difficult to get a class action certified for defamation, unless circumstances suggest that all members of the class have been ‘singled out’ by the allegedly defamatory statements and suffered a personal injury to their individual reputations.”
“Here, for example, the Court concluded was no cause of action that could be brought on behalf of 500 marchers in the parade that were members of the federal and provincial Liberal Party because the statements didn’t single each one of them out. . .,” he said. “As a fundamentally personal cause of action, defamation is typically not well-suited for class actions.”
|Hugo Alves says a reported move by the federal government to formally legalize recreational marijuana use has led to ‘an uptick in activity in what’s already a very busy space.’|
Hugo Alves, partner with the corporate commercial practice group at Bennett Jones LLP and co-founder and head of the firm’s cannabis practice group, says the move should lead to more activity in the sector.
“I think from a legal perspective, what it means for lawyers or our clients now, is that clients who may have had one toe in, in terms of wanting to get involved in the space, or timing the execution of their business plans to coincide with a non-medical adult use market, now have a better indication as to timelines, and we should see an uptick in activity in what’s already a very busy space,” says Alves.
Alves says, however, how changes will roll out is still unclear.
“Long-term what it means, we don’t know,” says Alves. “We don’t really know [if] that April date means legislation. . .or whether that means a fully-operating system, which will require something beyond legislation,” that could take longer to unspool.
Markets have responded positively to the news, noted Alves.
“I think it will make our clients happy,” he says.
Cheryl Reicin, chair of the life sciences group at Torys LLP, says seeing a lot of influx of financing from the United State and Israel.
“You know there’s been a tsunami of financing, and [you] just see that heating up, because some of the uncertainty will be going away,” says Reicin, who is based in the firm’s Toronto and New York offices.
Eileen McMahon, who leads the drug regulatory and IP practice in Torys LLP’s Toronto office, says a task force that looked at cannabis legalization led to important recommendations that industry watchers were expecting to be implemented. She says Canada is “setting the benchmark for how this might evolve in other countries, as well.”
“I would say that is not surprising that this is happening so quickly, because we know that representatives of the federal government have been working in the evenings to get this done,” she says. “So they have really been striving to meet the Prime Minister’s objective of introducing the draft legislation this spring, and we’ve actually seen that as we work with them on various issues.”
A spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould did not provide a comment on the issue by deadline.
|Sharon Shore says a recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling shows a judge’s ‘frustration with the current system and a problem that we know exists as far as access to justice.’|
In the case, a 32-year-old woman, Noora Abdulaali, alleged she had been assaulted by her former husband, and harassed after leaving him.
The 43-year-old man, Kadhim Salih, said he feared his former wife would fabricate allegations against him.
The couple had no shared property and no children, noted Pazaratz.
“The next time anyone at Legal Aid Ontario tells you they’re short of money, don’t believe it. It can’t possibly be true. Not if they’re funding cases like this,” Pazaratz said the ruling.
Abdulaali was represented by duty counsel paid by Legal Aid Ontario, while Salih was represented with his own lawyer, paid for by Legal Aid Ontario.
Pazaratz was critical of the case for multiple reasons, and said it was “hardly worth a written endorsement.” However, as Pazaratz explained in the ruling, it blossomed into an ongoing battle after Abdulaali pursued a restraining order against Salih.
The two, who now live in separate cities, were unable to agree on a court order that they would stay away from each other — even if binding on both of them.
“Many taxpayers can’t afford their own lawyers, and don’t qualify for free assistance through Legal Aid. So they end up representing themselves in court. Or facing financial reality and settling without going to court,” he says, in the ruling.
“But when you pay no taxes and Legal Aid gives you a free lawyer, there’s no incentive to be sensible. Why worry about the cost when some unsuspecting taxpayer out there is footing the bill?
Ultimately, Pazaratz suggested the parties and counsel involved have a discussion to see if they could reach a “sensible resolution” — and if not, that he “would formally request that the Area Director of Legal Aid Ontario attend. . .to justify the obscene expenditure of tax money on a simple case with such an obvious solution.”
“I made a fuss. I told them to stop wasting money. So they settled,” said Pazaratz.
“But why do we have a system in which so much tax money gets wasted, unless someone takes the time to make a fuss?”
For its part, Legal Aid Ontario said in an email statement it could not go into the details of the case.
“Legal Aid Ontario offers support to all kinds of vulnerable people,” said spokesman Graeme Burk.
“The privacy rules governing our actions means we cannot comment on the specifics of this case. However, our role has been, and continues to be, helping our clients access justice and navigate the legal system.”
Sharon Shore, partner at Epstein Cole LLP and chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Family Law Section, says “what we’re hearing is [Pazaratz’s] frustration with the current system and a problem that we know exists as far as access to justice.”
“He’s placing the blame on Legal Aid Ontario, but I don’t know that it’s really limited to that issue,” she says. “. . .There is an ongoing problem that a lot of judges and certainly the bar have been working on, as far as what do you do with the self-represented individuals, what do you do with the court system that is lacking in resources.”
Shore says Pazaratz “didn’t need to write” the decision, as it was a consent order.
“He was clearly frustrated and sending a message. It makes you stand up, it makes you listen to it, but I’m not sure that it’s fair to place it entirely on Legal Aid,” she says.
“I think it’s a frustration with the system.”
Jonathan Richardson, with Augustine Bater Binks LLP in Ottawa, said the ruling is “one of the bluntest decisions I have ever read.”
“It shows the difficulties present in the legal aid system and the balancing act legal aid lawyers have to maintain,” he says. However, he adds, “it is fair to point out that the presence of legal aid has not made this particular dispute any worse.”
“Given the circumstances described, it is likely the same steps would have been taken and the same court costs incurred if both parties were self-represented. . .what the case does speak to is the need for early intervention and triage in family law cases so that cases such as these can be worked out of the system at an early stage and without the need to use up court resources which could be better focused elsewhere,” he says.
|Kathleen Ganley says that $14.5 million will be invested to “address court and Crown pressures,” including in more crown prosecutors in Alberta.|
The announcement by Ganley comes ahead of the tabling of the provincial budget March 16, and on the heels of complaints by the Alberta Crown Attorney’s Association that due to inadequate resources, an estimated 200 cases had been stayed.
“The justice system is fundamental to the rights and safety of Albertans. I have been working on finding ways to improve that system, which has been increasingly backlogged over the years, since I took office,” said Minister Kathleen Ganley, in a statement provided to Law Times.
“The Jordan decision has had impacts across the province, and we moved quickly to ensure we were prioritizing matters in a proportionate and thoughtful way, and began immediately looking at what resourcing was necessary. We took a thoughtful and balanced approach. This is a huge step in the right direction, and we will continue to monitor the needs for resources in all areas of the justice system.”
According to numbers provided by the province, the “Alberta Crown Prosecution Service had 325 Crown prosecutors in 2016 and 256 Crown prosecutors in 2006.”
Damian Rogers, treasurer of the Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association, says even with 35 crown prosecutors being added, more hiring needs to be done.
The crown attorney’s association represents 262 crowns who work for the Edmonton Crown Prosecutors’ Office, the Calgary Crown Prosecutors’ Office, regional prosecutions officers and a specialized prosecutions branch with offices in Alberta, as well as people employed in appeals, education and policy roles.
“It’s a move in the right direction and the Minister acknowledged in her public comments that this was a start, rather than the end, of resourcing issues, and I think she was signalling that she appreciated that this would not necessarily be sufficient resources to resolve all of the issues we’ve had in terms of caseload,” says Rogers.
Rogers says there are positions that have not been filled due to a “hiring restraint” since 2015, and bringing 35 prosecutors on will fill vacant positions, but there are still another 50 prosecutors needed for trial and docket court. Factors that have caused stress on crowns are an increasing population in Alberta, an increasing number of criminal prosecutions, and increasing severity of crime, says Rogers.
“This is a return of staffing levels to early 2015 levels, before this hiring restraint happened,” he says.
The province had already announced it was adding 15 new prosecutors, and the announcement of 35 new prosecutors is in addition to that.
Rogers says due to a Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision, Hearing Office Bail Hearings (Re), 2017 ABQB 74, bail prosecutors will be needed because the court ruled that the crown’s practice of delegating first appearance bail hearings to police officers was not permissible under the Criminal Code, and gave a deadline of August 2017 for the crown to reassume that role.
A triage protocol will still be necessary for prosecutors despite the new people being hired, Rogers says.
“We’re still in a situation where prosecutors are going to be asked to prioritize serious and violent crime, and resolve less serious files by way of plea bargains, which we always did, but there is additional pressure on us to do that and it may result in offers being lower than we would have given in the past. . .,” he says.
Rogers said the association has asked the government to consider an external review of crown caseload.
“It’s a step in the right direction to have all those positions potentially filled, and we’ve been advised they won’t all be posted all at once, it will be over the next fiscal year that they’ll be able to return to full staffing levels,” says Rogers.
“We would have liked to have seen the timeline be a bit faster, but over the next year, we are anticipating a return to our earlier level of staffing for trial prosecutors.”
Ganley said the plan to add prosecutors has been underway for some time.
“A budget as large and complex as the provincial budget for Alberta takes months to develop,” said the statement by Ganley.
“This issue has been under discussion with my colleagues at the Cabinet table for months, and decisions were made well in advance of last week.”
The call comes as Alberta Minister of Justice Kathleen Ganley says recruiting is underway for 15 new Crown attorneys.
|Kelly Dawson says there’s a ‘clear disparity’ in the way funding is allocated to different parts of the criminal justice system, such as policing, corrections, courts services, prosecution services and Legal Aid services.|
Damian Rogers, the Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association treasurer and a Crown prosecutor in Edmonton, says there is a “conservative estimate” of 200 stayed cases in Alberta since January 2017, due to inadequate resources.
“I think it has a lot of implications throughout the justice system,” says Rogers.
“I believe we’re the only province that has essentially publicly gone out and said, ‘Look, we will make a decision to stay viable significant crimes in order to prioritize more serious crimes,’ so we’re not talking about shoplifting or petty crime, we’re talking about impaired driving, assault, frauds . . . they’re not insignificant files.”
Rogers says that, in 2007, there was a decision made that the prosecution service was understaffed and that, over the next three years, a number of personnel including Crown prosecutors, were hired, so there was a peak number of prosecutors reached in 2010.
“Our concern is that workloads have been increasing for prosecutors, caseloads have been increasing for prosecutors over the last number of years and the staffing level of our prosecution service was last reviewed in 2007, based on 2006 figures,” he says.
“Since that time, the complement has not increased of Crown prosecutors and, in fact, because of the current hiring restraint that our government has imposed on the Crown prosecution service and on other areas of government, we’re actually below the staffing numbers that were deemed appropriate back in 2007, based on 2006 numbers.”
Ganley says the government is “definitely concerned” by the stayed cases, and it has committed to hiring more Crowns.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see a victim not get to see their accused person have their day in court because of a procedural matter,” she says.
She notes that some the stayed cases date back to 2012.
It’s difficult to comment on individual cases because “the prosecutors will exercise their discretion in each of those cases,” Ganley says. Vacancies on the province’s Court of Queen’s Bench are also part of the problem, she says.
“We’ve had — I think everyone will be aware — there have been backlogs, not just in Alberta but everywhere in the country, that have been sort of building up over a number of years, probably even decades, and those backlogs were suddenly sort of brought to the forefront by the decision of the Supreme Court in Jordan,” she says.
“So, a situation that had been sort of trending one way for quite a while was suddenly reversed, so that prompted us to act quite quickly, and so we have been discussing resourcing here throughout our budgeting process.”
Information provided by the Alberta government states there were 325 Crown prosecutors in 2016, compared with 256 Crowns in 2006.
Rogers says the 15 prosecutors promised by Ganley will not be enough.
“We would still be below the number of prosecutors we had for 2006 crime levels, and we’re saying, ‘No, we need those positions filled and we need, actually, new people, not just filling vacancies that exist already,’” he says.
Kelly Dawson, Criminal Trial Lawyers Association president and managing partner at Dawson Duckett Shaigec & Garcia Barristers in Edmonton, says he does “believe and accept that the Crown prosecution service is under-resourced and has been for some time,” though he says he can’t comment to the severity of the issue.
“There’s no doubt that the Crown has been forced to do a triage system and they have an early resolution office that is pumping out — trying to pump out, at least — attractive offers to resolve matters as quickly as possible. They are also increasing their use of stays, obviously, with respect to weaker charges,” says Dawson.
“This was a shift from what we’ve heard from them, that they’re now having to stay prosecutions that are otherwise meritorious, and if that is accurate and true, that certainly is strong evidence of public safety being put at risk with an under-resourced system.”
Dawson says there’s a “clear disparity” in the way funding is allocated to different parts of the criminal justice system in Alberta, such as policing, corrections, courts services, prosecution services and Legal Aid services.
“The problem here and in other jurisdictions is criminal justice resourcing and reforms [are] piecemeal at best, but I would say chaotic describes how governments have funded and implemented reforms to the criminal justice system to make it more efficient and effective, and it seems to be one of the poor boys on the budget priority list in most provinces,” he says.
|Francois Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.|
“We’ve been on strike for a really long time. People are not getting paid at all, because we don’t have any money in the union funds,” he told Legal Feeds on Monday, but noted members are still committed to the strike.
“It’s not really about the money, it’s about our profession, so I’d say that people are really determined still, even though they are really angry the negotiations could not progress as much as we wanted, and of course, now that there is the legislation that is coming on, people are really, really angry,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.
“But, they completely changed their position about that last Thursday when the minister responsible for negotiations for the government announced in the media that they were making us a final offer on Thursday night, and we had 24 hours to respond to that offer,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe said after the offer was received, the union’s executive board responded with a counter-offer.
This past weekend, a negotiation meeting was scheduled, but Desroches Lapointe said the minister announced that special legislation would come before the National Assembly of Quebec to force strikers back to work. Debate over the issue was anticipated to occur at the assembly on Monday night, says Desroches Lapointe.
“. . .What is obvious that they are going to force us back to work because that’s what they announced,” says Desroches Lapointe.
“The main issue in the strike is that we want the recognition that our profession is particular , and if we need a different mode of negotiation than the traditional mode of negotiation, we want something that is non-conflictual, because every time we have to negotiate our work conditions, it’s really , really hard with Quebec’s government, and. . .the past experience is really negative,” he says.
A spokeswoman for Quebec’s Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau did not respond to a request for comment.
|Lorne Sossin says reconciliation with Indigenous People and accessibility are top goals that have been identified for Osgoode Hall Law School.|
“On accessibility, we really saw it as something that is part of this outward focus of the law school, to really ensure we’re getting our financial barriers reduced to the extent we can, for ensuring our communities are inclusive, [that] no one’s pressed up against the window looking in on a great legal education if they want one and are eligible for one,” says Sossin.
The law school at York University has about 900 full-time students, 300 part-time graduate students and 100 to 150 full-time graduate students.
In the newest strategic plan unveiled last month, the school identified three goals it will continue to work on — community engagement, experiential education and research intensification. Now, the other two goals have been added, says Sossin.
“We saw accessibility and reconciliation through a really holistic lens as we added them to the list of those pillars on which we all stand,” says Sossin.
One of the ways the school is promoting accessibility is the Income Contingent Loan Program, which Sossin says is “far and away our most significant measure to counter” high debts and high tuitions.
The program is for students in the 10-year period following their graduation, and is designed so that a graduate pays back the debt in a way that reflects their income.
“[It] features students who get a loan from the law school to cover the entirety of their tuition — that’s a mixture of bursary and loan — and then the loan portion is repayable after they graduate, if their income is over $80,000 a year, and there’s some [income-measured payback] between $60,000 to $80,000, and if they make less than $60,000, the loan is forgiven in its entirety,” says Sossin.
Sossin says the program helps with addressing “career choice anxiety.”
“If [during] this debt, you can’t go and join an international human rights practise or do clinical work because you need a higher salary, this is a way in which the law school can have your back,” he says.
The program is available to five students in the graduating class of 2018 and another five in the graduating class of 2019, and was initially designed to cover 25 students in its five-year pilot. Sossin says the new strategic plan reflects hopes the program will grow.
“It’s an example of something that we felt we could do, and needed to do, to counter this status quo where tuition keeps going up, students keep going into more debt with credit lines, leads to more anxiety, more limits of career choice and limits, ultimately, who is going to come into the pool to apply for law school,” he says.
The school also has a flex-time initiative, which it describes as a way “to make the Law School more accessible to students who face barriers that make participation in the full- time Juris Doctor program difficult or impossible, such as work or care responsibilities, financial restrictions or health concerns.”
Tuition for domestic students doing their Juris Doctor was $24,995.98 in 2016-2017, and $25,820.98 for international students. Students must pay $977.42 in ancillary fees, as well.
The dean noted Osgoode is “not the most expensive law school in town.”
“[U of T] often gets a lot more of the press, negative and sometimes positive, around tuition, just because it’s at the forefront, and we’re not certainly far behind, second most expensive in the country, but it’s certainly a top of mind issue that helped drive our focus on accessibility. . .,” he says.
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