Thompson Rivers University

Chris Axworthy: Founding Dean of Law

  Posted on: February 22, 2010

Thompson Rivers University announces its founding Dean of Law

Backgrounder to February 22, 2010 announcement

Chris Axworthy, QC, Dean TRU Faculty of Law

  • Chris Axworthy was born in the U.K. After graduating in Law from what is now London Metropolitan University in 1970, he completed his graduate studies in Law at McGill University. From 1972 to 1975 he was Assistant Professor of Law at the University of New Brunswick. From 1975 to 1985 he was Associate Professor and then Professor of Law at Dalhousie University. In 1984 he moved to the University of Saskatchewan to be Professor of Law and the founding Executive Director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.
  • In 1988 Chris was elected to Parliament as the M.P. for Saskatoon-Clark’s Crossing. He was re-elected twice in 1993 and in 1997. In 1999 Chris was elected as the M.L.A. for Saskatoon-Fairview in a by-election and again later the same year in the General Election when he was appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Province of Saskatchewan. In 2001 Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs were added to his responsibilities. Chris was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2000.
  • In 2003 Chris returned to the University of Saskatchewan as Professor of Law. He also practiced law with Robertson Stromberg Pederson in Regina. Since July 2008 he has been Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Manitoba.

TRU Faculty of Law

  • First announced on February 16, 2009, in the Speech from the Throne, the Government of B.C. committed to create a new law faculty at TRU.
  • The target date for the first semester intake is September 2011, with the application process beginning in the fall of 2010
  • Students admitted to the program will be TRU students.
  • A three-year, fully accredited program that builds on the unique strengths of the university and the community. The TRU Faculty of Law will provide graduates with a strong background and understanding of the social, cultural and economic realities of Canadian rural settings, within a global context.

Curriculum Agreement with University of Calgary

  • TRU and the University of Calgary plan to license existing curriculum with appropriate content modification to recognize differences in B.C. legislation. 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 also has a focus on experiential learning which fits well with TRU’s goal of educating students for career success.
  • The degree granted will be Juris Doctor (J.D.), the same as the U. of C., and will be granted by TRU in collaboration with the U. of C. Faculty of Law, and will feature the official crests of both institutions.

The Demand for Graduates

  • There are currently 16 law schools in Canada. This includes two in B.C. which between them currently admit 316 students:
    University of BC: 208, University of Victoria: 108
  • In 2008 the UBC Law School had 1,683 applications for its 208 first year seats and the University of Victoria had 1,038 applications for the 108 first year seats in law.
  • 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.
  • 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 British Columbia, it now is desirable to train lawyers in the interior where they will stay after graduation to practice in rural and small city settings.