Thompson Rivers University

Plans for Law School at TRU Announced in Provincial Throne Speech

February 16, 2009

Partnership plans with the University of Calgary announced by TRU

The announcement of government plans to establish a Law School at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, and the announcement of partnership plans between TRU and the University of Calgary will bring economic benefits and national and international recognition for both the university and the community, says TRU President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Kathleen Scherf.

In the Speech from the Throne this afternoon in Victoria, the Government of B.C. made a commitment to the creation of a new Law School to be opened at Thompson Rivers University.

Further to the Throne Speech, Thompson Rivers University and the University of Calgary are pleased to announce today that the two institutions have agreed to develop a partnership plan to establish the TRU Law School within the next few years.

“This announcement, which has come about as the result of considerable hard work and support from many members of our local community, recognizes the importance of Kamloops within our province, and the critical role of TRU as a university with a provincial mandate” said Board of Governors Chair Ron Olynyk.

“We are also proud to be able to announce our plan to work with the University of Calgary, as we believe this will be a milestone in the spirit of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) between our provinces; we are making Canadian legal history. The University of Calgary’s Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law (NREEL) specialization is a perfect fit with our focus on environmental sustainability,” said Dr. Scherf.

“I wish to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Ron Olynyk, and local lawyers Don Andrews, Russ Cundari, Rex Renkema, Brian Ross, Rob McDiarmid, and Frank Quinn who launched this initiative in July, 2006. Once again Premier Gordon Campbell and Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell have demonstrated their faith in and enthusiasm for Thompson Rivers University’s pivotal role in British Columbia, ” said Kamloops North-Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger.

“There is currently more demand for legal education than there is capacity in Canada, This invaluable partnership with Thompson Rivers University will allow us to bridge the gap by expanding the reach of our exceptional curriculum,” says Alastair Lucas, Dean of the U of C Faculty of Law. “Our focus on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law is uniquely suited to academic priorities at TRU and we are excited to provide them with a program that focuses on practical legal skills instruction in the context of more theoretical legal principles. Through our partnership, we will build capacity for access to legal services in rural communities in the BC interior and Peace River region in BC and Alberta.”

“As of today, we can initiate the academic and administrative planning processes we must undertake within the university to develop the detailed proposal,” said TRU President Dr. Kathleen Scherf.

Based on strong evidence of demand for a third Law School in the province, TRU envisions the establishment of a three-year, fully accredited LL.B(Bachelor of Law) program that builds on the unique strengths of the university and the community. The TRU Law School will provide graduates with a strong background and understanding of the social, cultural and economic realities of Canadian rural settings, within a global context.

“From our current initiatives in First Nations education and international learning, to educational and research activities dealing with the environmental, developmental and cultural issues of today, we are perfectly positioned to create the legal experts that our country needs,” said Scherf.

Law School at Thompson Rivers University

The Basic Plan

  • Launch a 3-year fully accredited LL.Bprogram with an annual intake of a minimum of 40 students, TRU will maintain its commitment to small class sizes.
  • Establish a partnership with The University of Calgary, with a target date for the opening of the TRU Law School of September 2011.
  • Subject to approvals, begin the search for a Dean in 2009, and faculty in 2010
  • Subject to approvals, student recruitment activities would begin in 2010.

The Demand for Graduates

  • Existing Law Schools in B.C. currently admit 316 students: UBC 208; UVic 108
  • During the decade from 2011 to 2021, an average of approximately 290 lawyers each year in B.C. will reach the age of 65. During that period the population of B.C. will increase from 4.25 million to 5.1 million.
  • Last year, UBC Law School had 1,683 applications for its 208 first year seats and UVic had 1,038 applications for its 108 first year seats.
  • After attending Law Schools in Vancouver and Victoria, many graduates remain in those areas for their careers.
  • In the same way that it is desirable to train physicians in the interior of the Province, it now is desirable to train lawyers in the interior where they will stay after graduation to practice in rural and small city settings

The University of Calgary Partnership

  • TRU and The University of Calgary will develop a plan to license existing curriculum with appropriate content modification to recognize differences in B.C. legislation, and offer a joint degree
  • As much of what is taught at Law Schools is common across Canada, graduates of common-law Law Schools in any province may article in any other common-law province.
  • The University of Calgary is an ideal partner for many reasons, including the TILMA agreement and the growing interrelationship it facilitates between the B.C. interior economy and that of Alberta.
  • The emphasis of U of C curriculum on natural resources and environment fits with TRU’s existing strengths in those areas
  • The U of C law program has a focus on experiential learning which fits well with TRU’s goal of educating students for career success
  • TRU has significant experience in the development of joint degree programs and the issuing of joint degreesOver a period of time, TRU envisions that the joint degree would transition to being an independent TRU degree.

University Facilities

Initially, TRU will develop plans to use space in existing and planned facilities to accommodate classroom and office requirements for the new Law School. In the longer term, the university will seek to develop dedicated space for the TRU Law School.