Memorial University of Newfoundland to Explore the Feasibility of a New Law School

On February 25, 2013, the Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) established a committee to review the feasibility of a law school. Dr. Lynne Phillips, dean, Faculty of Arts, will chair the review committee. The committee is expected to release a report later this year.

Two new Canadian law schools were established over the past three years. Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law in British Columbia opened its doors in 2011, and Lakehead University's law school is set to open in Ontario this fall. In addition, Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., is also applying to establish a law school.

Memorial University last explored the law school option in 1987. The 1987 report endorsed a new law school in principle, but not at the time. Last year, the Law Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland branch of the Canadian Bar Association supported a review for a new law school at Memorial University.

“It’s an appropriate time to again examine the feasibility of establishing a law school at Memorial,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor. “It’s been 25 years since the university last reviewed this avenue, and the local legal community is supportive of another review.”

The review will focus on the consideration of a law school as a professional school as opposed to an academic department. As such, it will examine the current and future demand for lawyers as well as the benefits to Memorial University of establishing a law school.

The Canadian legal community should learn from the US example. In the US, a law school boom occurred between 1950 and 1970, during which period about 20 schools got accredited per decade. In the 1980s and 1990s 16 new law schools were accredited. According to the Wall Street Journal, US law students who graduated in 2011 had little better than a 50 percent chance at finding a job as a lawyer. There are now 203 law schools in the US serving a population of 313 million, and 18 Common Law programs in Canada serving a population of 34 million.

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