Ryerson University hopes to continue its rapid expansion with a new law school.
“We think Ryerson could provide an innovative approach to law education that is very different from the rest of the system,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s new interim president, in an interview with The Ryersonian on Monday. “We are doing the consultation with the community and of course we have a lot of work to do with the government and the law societies. That feasibility study is starting right now.”
The academic director of the Ryerson Law Research Centre, Avner Levin, has been working with a small group of faculty members on the proposal since mid-October.
In emails obtained by The Ryersonian, Levin points to curriculum at law schools at the University of Calgary and Cornell University as potential inspiration for a Ryerson program.
The University of Calgary launched a new law curriculum in September, which emphasizes “performance-based learning.” Students practise concepts in “more realistic and practical ways” than the typical use of examinations to measure competence, according to a blog post announcing the changes.
Cornell will launch a new master’s degree in law, technology, and entrepreneurship next year. According to a press release, the program will provide practising attorneys and recent law graduates with “the specialized skills needed to support and lead technology companies in the increasingly complex and dynamic digital economy.”
Ryerson launched its Research Law Centre in the fall of 2009. The centre supports legal research, runs a free legal clinic in partnership with Miller Thomson LLP, and organizes workshops, volunteer opportunities and conferences.
The Law Practice Program launched last year and provides Ontario law students an alternative route to a licence to practise law than the traditional articling. Students instead take a four–month intensive course load followed by a four-month work placement.
The university has been growing rapidly over the last decade, putting a major crunch on space for programs. The Faculty of Science, launched in 2012, is still waiting for the university to secure government funding for a permanent home planned for a parcel of land on Jarvis Street.
It is unclear where Ryerson will house the proposed law school.
The university still requires the green light from the province, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the Law Society of Upper Canada.