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SECTION 2: The Profession and the Faculty of Law Juris Doctor-J.D.

Robson Hall, Faculty of Law, offers a three year J.D. program that starts with the fundamental doctrinal courses that allow students to acquire a solid foundation in law. From the foundational courses, students can move into legal specialities of their choice, or choose to pursue an J.D. concentrating on Aboriginal law, business law, or human rights. Clinical legal education has been a part of the J.D. program since the early 1970s and students develop lawyering skills under faculty guidance, expanding their perspectives and ethical understanding of the role of practising lawyers. Scholarship and research is built into the J.D. program so students have an opportunity to develop a critical understanding of law and its development.


2.1 The Study of Law

Legal education in Canada is divided into two phases: the academic study of law at one of the university law schools and practical training under the auspices of a provincial law society for those who wish to be admitted to practise and called to a Bar. As there is a reciprocal recognition of university law degrees between the common law provinces (all provinces except Quebec), the academic study can be taken in any one of these provinces.

A sound education in law provides a good foundation for a great variety of careers. In the past most law graduates have entered the private practise of law to concentrate on various types of legal work: real estate transactions, commercial contracts, company law, family law, taxation, etc. Contrary to popular belief only a few lawyers concentrate on court work and even fewer specialize in criminal cases. While the tendency to specialize in the practise of law is becoming more prevalent, most lawyers continue to be general practitioners prepared to perform most types of legal work according to the needs of their clients.

Besides the private practice of law, law graduates can join the legal departments which many corporations find it expedient to maintain; others enter the employ of various government departments to serve in a variety of capacities. A few pursue nonlegal vocations in, business, journalism, social work, and law enforcement. At the University of Manitoba consideration is given to the fact that while most students take law to become practising lawyers, some are taking law as an additional discipline to enhance their opportunities in fields other than the practise of law; thus, while the emphasis is on the academic study of substantive law, the study is carried on in a practical context.

2.2 Clinical Learning

The curriculum invites critical assessment of the role of law in society as well as the development of skills relevant to the practice of law. In addition to lectures and seminars, students are given an opportunity to develop, under supervision, some of the research, writing, and forensic skills which will prove useful in the practise of law. In first year, students are acquainted with the various resource materials available in a law library, and they follow a program designed to develop legal research and writing techniques. In second and third years, students participate in moot courts, fictitious trials and appeals, which provide practise in research, examination of witnesses, and courtroom argument. This advocacy training is just one element of the program at Robson Hall that contributes to the excellent reputation of our graduates. In third year students may choose from a range of Clinical Courses or may participate in national competitive moot competitions.

Throughout their legal studies students may serve actual legal clients through volunteer work with the University Law Centre, Pro Bono Students, L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic and The Legal Help Centre.

2.3 Research and Publications

Research and scholarly writing are integral elements of the mission of the University and the law school. Professors research, write and consult with the larger legal community in their particular area of expertise and students have similar opportunities. Each year students must take a perspective course which provides an opportunity to explore a particular area of law in depth. Perspective courses have limited enrolment and students must research and write a major paper.

2.4 Faculty of Law Centres of Excellence

Robson Hall is home to two named research chairs.  In 1999, the Faculty of Law established the Asper Chair of International Business and Trade Law. The Asper Chair sponsors a variety of research including bi-annual academic conferences in international business and trade law. An internship program allows up to four students a year to work with the Asper Chair and creates opportunities for students to advance their education, while gaining skills necessary to pursue careers in law or business with an international focus. Additionally, students involved in the Asper program have the opportunity to participate in international commercial dispute resolution competitions.

The Marcel Desautels Chair in Private Enterprise and the Law has a mandate to conduct research and provide education on issues of specific interest to the privately held or family owned businesses.  The Desautel Centre’s focus is on the needs of closely held businesses. The Faculty of Law also operates the Kerry Vickar Small Business Law Clinic which is headed by a director who is assisted by volunteer mentors from the practising bar.


2.5 Student Organizations

All Law students are members of the Manitoba Law Students’ Association (MLSA), the student government. Student participation in Faculty governance takes place through the representation of elected members of the MLSA.  In addition to the Manitoba Law Students Association there exisits a diversity of student groups at Robson Hall.   No matter what your interests, joining a student group can greatly enhance your law school experience by providing you with greater opportunities throughout the year to interact with the community and other students.  Student groups include:

Business Law Group
Canada Law Games
Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF)
Family Law Group
Feminist Legal Forum
Manitoba Aboriginal Law Students Association (MALSA)
MBA Mentorship Program
Mediators Beyond Borders
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC)
Robson Hall Bilingual Students Association