Update on the proposed School of Law
We never imagined that our proposal to offer legal education at a private Christian university would spark a national controversy, but that is what we face today.
- Bob Kuhn, President, Trinity Western University
Trinity Western finalized its proposal for a School of Law in 2012 after more than 20 years of planning, extensive consultation and detailed preparation. The proposal followed the new national guidelines for accreditation established by the law societies of Canada and the requirements of the Minister of Advanced Education for British Columbia for offering a new degree program. That process turned out to be complicated and difficult, but in December 2013 TWU had the necessary approvals. A year later, the situation has changed dramatically.
We find ourselves in the middle of a very significant conflict. The quality of our program and the quality of our graduates are not being challenged. Instead, the issue is whether the faculty, staff and students of TWU are allowed to live, work and study together in a community that honours the traditional Christian conception of marriage. That issue touches on the fundamental freedoms and equality rights that go to the core of Canada’s existence as a truly free and democratic society.
- Earl Phillips, Executive Director, School of Law
Here is a summary of what has happened so far:
- June 2012:TWU submitted the School of Law proposal to BC’s Minister of Advanced Education for consent to offer a Juris Doctor degree, and to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) for accreditation of the program
- December 2013:the FLSC and the BC Minister of Advanced Education decided in favour of the School of Law
- January 2014: President Kuhn released a celebratory letter, as all the major hurdles for accreditation had been met; the Deans of Canadian law schools, the Canadian Bar Association, and others, stated their opposition to the School of Law
- March-April 2014: individual law societies reviewed the FLSC approval; the School of Law was approved by the Law Societies of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon, but rejected by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society
- June 2014: a Special General Meeting by the Law Society of BC passed a non-binding resolution to reverse the initial approval
- September 2014: TWU appointed Vancouver lawyer Earl Phillips as executive director of the School of Law
- October 2014: the Law Society of BC reversed its approval of TWU’s School of Law based on a referendum of the Province’s lawyers; New Brunswick lawyers, in a non-binding vote, voted against the School of Law
- December 2014: the BC Minister of Advanced Education revoked his consent for the TWU School of Law; TWU's challenge of the decision of Nova Scotia Barristers' Society is heard in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia; and TWU filed legal action against the Law Society of BC
- January 2015: the New Brunswick Law Society will decide what to do regarding their members’ vote against TWU; and the Ontario Superior Court will determine when it will hear TWU’s challenge of the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada