TWU wins round 1 with the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

I’ll provide a longer post when I have time, but I figured I’d give an update on the ongoing legal battles between Trinity Western University, an evangelical Christian university located in BC, and certain of Canada’s law societies, including those in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

As I’ve written about ad nauseum before,  here, here, and here ,the law societies of Nova Scotia, BC and Ontario have refused to accredit TWU over  its covenant of community (i.e., Christian) values which refuses to recognize same-sex marriage. As I’ve noted previously, the arguments put forward by opponents of TWU have generally been high on rhetoric but light on legal analysis (i.e., wrong).  Apparently, Justice Campbell of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court agrees, because he concluded, in a judgement released earlier today, that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s refusal to accredit TWU was illegal on the bassis that the decision (i) was unfounded in any legal authority of the NSBS and (ii) violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  It’s a long decision (though a pretty well-written one), but for casual readers the first 10-20 pages or so have a nice pithy summary of Justice Campbell’s reasons.

This was an obvious decision which anyone with even a passing familiarity with the NSBS’s statutory authority and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and the jurisprudence around TWU thereunder) would have seen coming.  Apparently this group excludes a majority of the benchers of the law societies of Ontario, BC and Nova Scotia, and a majority of the members of the BC bar who voted not to accredit TWU.  This is a sad commentary on either the intellect or integrity of the legal profession in Canada.

 

 

The Law Society, Misplaced Trust Funds and the Regulation of Lawyers

Two stories caught my attention recently and got me thinking about the effectiveness of the  Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the body in charge of regulating lawyers.  As will be clear from other posts, I have a fairly low regard for the LSUC, but I think these two stories give a good illustration as to why.

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If the case against TWU law school is so strong, why do its opponents have to mistate what the law actually is?

I’m not sure why I actually care  about the Trinity Western University (“TWU“) law school (which I’ve written about ad nauseum, here, here and, most recently, here) or whether or not it gets accredited by the provincial law societies.   I went to a proper law school (UofT) and frankly would rather spend my weekend at the local gay pride parade than at bible study with the TWU grads. Yet, here I am, defending TWU.  In part, though, I think its the fact that, as a lawyer, I’m offended by the by shabby, misleading, and plain stupid legal arguments being made against TWU.

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Law Society of Upper Canada Sticks it to Christians… and the Law

I guess being the Law Society of Upper Canada (the “LSUC“) means you aren’t compelled to comply with silly little rules… like the law.  How else can one explain the appalling decision of the LSUC to refuse to accredit the proposed new law school at Trinity Western University (“TWU“)?

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Ontario Law Society Sticks It To Law Students – I’m Embarassed to be a Member

Before I start, I’m going to stake out my bias here.  I hate the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the organization responsible for regulating lawyers in Ontario.   Not because I’ve had any problems with them, but because, in my experience, there are few no public organizations as inept, incompetent and clueless as the LSUC.  Everything they do, they do badly.  They are the living embodiment of the old maxim that: “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t do, regulate”. When I went through the bar admissions program, they handed around material that was outdated and wrong (badly, badly wrong).  The bar admissions exam was a fiasco – the exam itself was filled with typos and spelling errors, and the organization was so poor it ran twice as long as it was scheduled to run and almost resulted in a riot.  Every year I have to fill out to two separate annual reports at two different times, rather than filing a single report at the same time (ok, this is a petty complaint, but you know, even the tax man doesn’t make me file two tax returns).  Even in their principal role of protecting the public from unscrupulous lawyers, it’s not clear that it is particularly competent (witness the recent Heydary fiasco, where the LSUC stepped in only after a lawyer allegedly disappeared with $3 million of his client’s money).

So, against that background, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that the LSUC would do something to completely fuck this year’s class of law school graduates.  And yet… even as jaded I am, I was shocked by the announcement that the LSUC was DOUBLING licensing fees for students to become lawyers in the province of Ontario to almost $5000.

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Law School Graduates Can’t Get Articling Jobs? So What?

A big issue among Ontario lawyers these days is the paucity of articling jobs for law students looking to become lawyers (generally, to become licensed as a lawyer you have to work for another lawyer as an “articling student”, basically a glorified apprenticeship, for 10 months).  Between a sharp drop-off in activity in the legal community, and increases in enrollment at Ontario law schools and in the number of Canadians law students who couldn’t get into a respectable Canadian school attending law school abroad (hello, Bond University, I’m looking at you), we’ve reached a crisis point with hundreds of students graduating from law school (often with 6-figure student loans) with no realistic possibility of ever becoming lawyers.

To the Law Society of Upper Canada (the “LSUC”), this is a problem to be addressed.  Since lawyers can’t be persuaded to hire more articling students then they need, the LSUC is proposing to create a new parallel licensing arrangement (the “PLA”), consisting of a  4-month long “Law Practice Program” and a 4-month co-op placement.

Personally, I don’t think the current excess supply of law students is a problem, over time it will decrease if gradates can’t find jobs.  And the PLA is a non-solution to this non-problem that, if it achieves anything, it will be to increase the amount of disciplinary complaints about new lawyers.

Continue reading “Law School Graduates Can’t Get Articling Jobs? So What?”