No new law schools in Ontario

Province denies Lakehead, Laurentian and Laurier/Waterloo proposals

Prospective law students in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Kitchener-Waterloo will be forced to apply out of town, after the provincial government announced new law schools planned at schools in those cities would not receive funding.

The Toronto Star reports that Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy sent a letter to university presidents at Lakehead University, Laurentian University, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University informing them of the decision.

Milloy told the Star that his government wants to do a lot for higher education, but funding for more law schools are not on the agenda.

“Our government has a pretty ambitious list of post-secondary priorities—more graduate studies, 100 new medical spots, for example—but to be honest, a new law school is not one of them,” said MPP John Milloy, minister of training, colleges and universities yesterday.

“We haven’t seen increased demand for law school, and we’re looking at a study that shows a number of law students aren’t able to find articling jobs,” said Milloy.

Ontario has six law schools based at the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall at York University, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Windsor. It has been almost 40 years since Windsor opened its school, the youngest in the province, in 1969.

Lakehead president Frederick Gilbert was particularly disappointed with the decision; the school had purchased an old high school for $1 million that it thought would house the new program. The selling point of Lakehead’s proposal was a proposed focus on aboriginal law and small, northern community-based law.

Northern Ontario’s Net News Ledger was particularly distressed by the news. It called the funding rejection “just another brick in the wall of misunderstanding” of northern issues.

The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University had proposed a joint program, the articling process of which would have differed from other law schools in the province. It would integrate the practical work throughout students’ degrees, not following their studies. Students would largely have been trained to practice in small communities.

Laurentian is still going to conduct a feasibility study, which will be completed in November, to explore the creation of a law school in Sudbury that serves Francophone and Aboriginal students.

Only a few weeks ago, the schools were seen to be jockeying for funding (subscription now required).