Trinity Western University pursues a new law school.
Proposals for a Trinity Western University School of Law were submitted at the end of June 2012, to both the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The program would be the seventh school at TWU, offering a J.D. program of studies with a view to excellence in leadership development, professionalism, and public service. A possible opening is September 2015; however, that is dependent on when approvals might be received. In order for TWU to be accepted as an accredited law school, the Ministry and the Federation must review these proposals and confirm that the university is capable of producing capable and quality graduates, suitable for “articling” at a law firm within the province. Professor Sawatsky stressed that TWU is still only in the approvals phase, there is no guarantee that there will be a law school. In 1993 the Academic Vice President of TWU at the time, Dr. Don Page, approached Sawatsky with a vision for the university. “After working at McCarthy Tetrault, one of the reasons I came to Trinity was the idea of working with Dr. Page to build a law school here,” Sawatsky says. However, it wasn’t until six years ago that the school started to look into the idea more seriously, when Dr. Janet Buckingham was hired, whom also has a huge passion and desire for a law school to be built at TWU. Sawatsky also points out, “A law school at TWU could create a unique place in Canada for legal research to consider issues in law through a Christian perspective. A law school at Trinity would be a place where scholars come together to think through issues related to faith and the law.” Additionally, there is no law school in the country that has a focus on charitable organizations and charity law. “That’s who we are; we are a charitable organization,” he says, “So it would make sense to have a program that focuses on charity law and not-for-profits.”
Many contend that a law school is the logical next step for TWU. The university has moved a lot more into the professional areas including Nursing, Business, the MBA program, and Education; it seems that a law program would be the next logical step. “We focus on leadership here at TWU and if there is any profession that is related to leadership, it’s law. Lawyers go on to politics and corporate leadership so it seems to be a natural fit with our focus of leadership. There have been some very rough concept drawings for the new building on campus in a few different locations, one of them being the area between Northwest and CANIL, just below the soccer field. The size and design of the building depend on a number of factors. Will it be solely a law school or a joint building? Will residency be attached? Donors input will also be taken into consideration regarding the design of the structure. The program is intended for 60 students a year, thus the total size of the school would include about 180 students. Market research has proven that there is a large demand; a significant number of students around the country want to attend law school, and TWU’s offering of Christian perspective would give it a unique advantage over other institutions. Tuition will be relatively comparable to Trinity’s current tuition. A law program is a quasi-graduate program so TWU will take into consideration undergraduate tuition rates as well as graduate tuition rates, setting somewhere in the middle. In closing the interview, Professor Sawatsky encouraged students to consider pursuing a law degree. “A legal career isn’t necessarily an easy career, but it is definitely an area where you have a great impact and where you can serve. This is one of the “philosophies” of the proposed law school, is the idea of law as service.” If students are interested in a potential career in law, the Pre-Law society will be meeting this year. Email scottwillforsyth@ gmail.com to sign up or for more information or check out https://twu.ca/academics/ fhss/politics/prelaw.html.