B.C. giving $7.4 million to complete TRU law building

B.C. giving $7.4 million to complete TRU law building
TRU law’s new building will give students the space they need to flourish. (Illustration: Diamond and Schmitt)
Now in its second year, things are running smoothly at Thompson Rivers University’s law school.

Last week, the B.C. government announced it will contribute $7.4 million to revitalize the Old Main building, soon to be the law faculty’s new home.  With its expanding student body (only 1L and 2L students are currently enrolled), law dean Chris Axworthy says more space will be needed for next year.

“We’re bursting at the seams where we are now, and so next year we’ll have enough space to spread out a little bit,” he says.

He adds that students have been making do in the current building, the Brown Family House of Learning, but soon they will have everything they need.

The two-storey addition to the Old Main building will increase the faculty’s space by 42,000 square feet and will include new high-tech classrooms, a moot courtroom, more study space, offices for student clubs and activities, etc.

Robert Fischer, a 2L student at TRU and president of the Society of Law Students, says he’s looking forward to moots in the new mock courtroom.

“It’s going to be pretty fantastic. They have moot classrooms in there, modern lecture halls, and things like lockers and study space that are going to be pretty important for us,” he says.

But TRU isn’t quite there yet — there’s still $2.6 million required to complete the project. Since TRU doesn’t have any law alumni to call upon yet, Axworthy says the law school has hired a fundraiser to help target law firms and businesses for support, and to seek out a private donor who is willing to contribute a sizeable sum to have the building named after him or her.

“I think most of the resources are going to come from larger centres and larger law firms,” says Axworthy. “Although, there have been fundraising campaigns in B.C. — [the University of British Columbia] the most recent and the most noteworthy — which have all picked the pockets of the large law firms, so we have our work cut out to raise money.”

Most of the fundraising efforts will be conducted next semester as the new building is set to open in September 2013.

Axworthy is confident the quality of TRU law students will encourage firms to donate to the law school.

“I’m hoping that if we can present our students as high-quality candidates for articling positions at law firms with a capacity to hit the ground running once they start work, that it will be more attractive to law firms to support us if they can see that our students are meeting their needs,” he says.

Fischer, who is in the middle of on-campus interviews, says firms have been fairly receptive to TRU students so far. He expects this may be due to the fact that students “come prepared.”

Also announced last week, TRU law professor Richard Frimpong Oppong has received a $42,750 research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to look into what happens when an individual tries to enforce a judgment that he or she was granted in an international court.

Axworthy says research grants such as this will help build the law school’s reputation. Fischer is also excited about it because grants create opportunities for students to assist professors with their research.

As the law school goes into its third year next year, the dean says it is looking to hire five more faculty members, mostly for upper-year courses. The faculty is also exploring clinical experience opportunities.

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