Law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia vote against Federation’s approval of TWU School of Law
Two provincial law societies—the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS)—have voted against the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC), denying its approval of Trinity Western University’s School of Law.
These decisions—made in close votes of 28 to 21 in Ontario, and 10 to 9 in Nova Scotia—come despite the recent April 11 vote (of 20 to 6) by the Law Society of British Columbia to respect the FLSC approval. The TWU School of Law has also been approved by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, and TWU law graduates are already cleared to article and practice in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut.
“We are very disappointed,” said TWU President Bob Kuhn, J.D., who was present at the LSUC Bencher meeting in Toronto yesterday. “These decisions impact all Canadians and people of faith everywhere. They send the chilling message that you cannot hold religious values and also participate fully in public society.”
“The criteria that the Ontario and Nova Scotia law societies used to consider the TWU School of Law were not clear,” said Kuhn. The two bodies initially charged with reviewing the TWU School of Law proposal—the FLSC and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education—used well-defined standards and conducted thorough evaluation processes over an 18-month period. Both decided in favour of TWU.
The University is reviewing its options, including legal recourse. “These provincial law societies are not the final authority. We feel the Ontario and Nova Scotia decisions are legally incorrect and it may now be necessary to re-litigate an issue that has already been decided in our favour by an 8 to 1 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001,” Kuhn said.
Denying TWU accreditation in Ontario and Nova Scotia will create a patchwork system in which TWU graduates can practice law in some provinces but not others. Five Provinces and one Territory have already aligned with the FLSC approval of the TWU School of Law.
Despite these decisions, Trinity Western University will continue with its plans to launch Canada’s only law school at a faith-based university. By developing legal studies within a framework of servant leadership, the TWU Law program will train lawyers with a focus on community service. The School of Law will help meet the growing need for practical and affordable legal services in Canada. Students will be encouraged to see the profession of law as a high calling of service, and to volunteer with local, national, and global NGOs that serve under-developed nations and the vulnerable.
Founded in 1962, TWU has been a part of higher education in British Columbia for over 52 years. TWU has six professional schools, including business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies and arts, media and culture. The School of Law will be its seventh.