Schulich School of Law
The Schulich School of Law is the oldest university common law school in the British Commonwealth, and in 1983 celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. From its inception in 1883, the school has sought to perpetuate the vision of its founder and long-term Dean, Richard Chapman Weldon, a vision which encompasses a solid preparation for the practice of law and which encourages respect for and participation in public life. Despite its regional base, Dalhousie is perceived as a “national” law school, and encourages applicants from all parts of Canada. Indeed, over the years graduates of Dalhousie have had a distinguished influence on the development of law, legal education and public institutions throughout Canada. The JD degree from Dalhousie is recognized for the purposes of Bar admission in all Canadian provinces.
The Law School is located in the Weldon Law Building on the main university campus. Designed to meet the special needs of law students and staff, the building contains class and seminar rooms, faculty and administrative offices and lounge space for students and staff. The Law Library, opened in October 1989, houses our collection of over 202,000 volumes of common law materials and legal periodicals which includes a very good selection of international legal materials, and a fast-growing marine and environmental law section. Our marine and environmental law holdings represent one of the best collections of its kind in the world, attracting scholars from many countries. The law school publishes the Dalhousie Law Journal, a well-respected legal periodical.
The full-time JD program at Dalhousie entails three years of study. The first year program is entirely compulsory, while the second and third year programs are, for the most part, optional. The first year program consists of the following seven courses: Contracts and Judicial Decision-Making, Criminal Justice: The Individual and the State, Orientation to Law, Fundamentals of Public Law, Legal Research and Writing, Property in its Historical Context, and Tort Law and Damage Compensation. The second year required courses are Civil Procedure, the Second Year Moot and Constitutional Law. The third year required course is The Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility. As well, students in second and third year are required to complete at least one “major paper” course per year. A more detailed description of all our course offerings.
A limited number of students are permitted to complete their JD on a part-time basis, subject to more detailed regulations set out below. The intent of this program is to accommodate the special needs of individuals for whom three years of full-time attendance at Law School could cause hardship or even inability to attend at all.
The Law School is home to the Dalhousie Health Law Institute, the Law and Technology Institute, and the Marine and Environmental Law Institute. For details, please consult the section on “Centres and Institutes” in this calendar.
The Schulich School of Law has an active clinical law program, Dalhousie Legal Aid Service. Through its community law office in downtown Halifax, the Clinic provides a legal aid service for low-income clients in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. Students, lawyers and paralegals conduct cases for individual clients and also work in areas of community development, preventive law and law reform, all under the supervision of staff lawyers and faculty members. The Clinic also acts as a teaching centre for third-year students. The law school offers another type of clinical experience, dealing solely with criminal law, in which, to complement special courses and seminars, students are assigned to either a judge, a Crown Counsel, or a defence lawyer, to observe and participate in criminal law work. Students receive academic credit for both clinical programs.
The Law School, in conjunction with several other faculties, offers four combined degree programs. The JD/MBA program allows students to obtain the Juris Doctor degree and the Master of Business Administration in four years instead of the five which would be required to take the degrees separately. The JD/MPA (Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration), the JD/MLIS (Juris Doctor/Master of Library and Information Studies), and the JD/MHA (Juris Doctor/Master of Health Administration) are similarly structured to permit the completion of the two degrees in four years instead of the usual five. Students intending to make application to any of the combined programs should inquire directly to the Registrar's Office, Dalhousie University.
Students are able to participate in several mooting programs. All second and third year students are required to participate in Moot Court, second year students as counsel, and third year students as judges. The best second year counsel compete in their third year for the Smith Shield, a prestigious Dalhousie award. As well, students can participate in the Jessup International Moot Court Competition, a world-wide competition on a problem of international law, the Bowman National Tax Moot, the Kawaskimhon Aboriginal Rights Moot, the Laskin Moot (an administrative-constitutional moot), a Securities Law Moot and the Gale Cup Moot Court Competition (among all Canadian common law schools), and the Sopinka Trial Advocacy Competition.
Dalhousie, in cooperation with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, offers a voluntary Judge's Clerkship Program for third year students. This program, which is in addition to regular courses and not for credit, allows qualified students to spend one week during the term with a Supreme Court Justice in Chambers, and offers a valuable and practical learning experience. Some students each year may also have the opportunity to act as student assistants, for credit, to the NS Appeal Court and some may do the same with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
The Schulich School of Law has established exchange programs with the University of Maine School of Law at Portland, National University of Singapore, the Canadian civil law schools, the EU Consortium of Law Schools and the North American Consortium on Legal Education with law schools in the United States and Mexico. Third year students may do one term at these schools for academic credit at Dalhousie. There is also the possibility of directed research courses to be taken at the Vrije Universiteit, the Netherlands, for academic credit at Dalhousie.
The law school has an active graduate degree program, offering both the Master of Laws (LLM) and the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Law) degrees. The Master's degree is normally acquired on the basis of thesis and course work, and can be taken either full-time in one year or part-time over two years. The Master’s degree may also be taken on the basis of course work only, which is particularly appropriate for part-time students. In recent years, supervision has been offered in the following areas, among others: international law, human rights law, health law, administrative law, constitutional law, taxation, business law, labour law, law of the sea, maritime law, fisheries law, environmental law, critical race and legal theory and feminist legal scholarship. A particular interest has been developed in marine and environmental law, which has been designated as a field of special emphasis in the faculty. More detailed information on the graduate degree program.
The first year class normally consists of 170 people, and the total student population in the JD program is approximately 460. Many of our students, usually 50%, are residents of provinces outside the Atlantic region. In addition to the JD students, approximately 20 students are in the LLM program, and several students are enrolled in the PhD program each year. The student body is very diverse, with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. We are sometimes able to accept a small number of students who wish to transfer to Dalhousie from another Canadian law school, or who have received their law degree in Québec. Application for transfer may be made to the Assistant Dean, Academic, Schulich School of Law, Halifax, NS B3H 4H9.
All law students are members of the Law Students' Society which appoints representatives to faculty committees, arranges for speakers to visit the school, and organizes social events and programs. It also oversees publication of a law students’ newspaper, The Weldon Times, The Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies, and the annual yearbook. Dalhousie has an active sports and social program with something to appeal to most students. Some of the student organizations active at the school are the Association of Women and the Law, the Environmental Law Students’ Society, the Dalhousie Aboriginal Law Students Association, the Dalhousie Black Law Students Association, the John Read International Law Society, and the Speakers' Committee. Dalhousie University features a major athletics and sports complex known as Dalplex. Indoor facilities there include a 50 metre swimming pool and a gymnasium/field house the size of a football field.
Scholarships and Bursaries
The Schulich School of Law administers a very generous scholarship and bursary program. Well over 60% of the students enrolled at the Schulich School of Law receive some sort of financial support from programs administered by the School. Besides entrance and in-course scholarships, discretionary awards and bursaries are offered annually to students with financial need. Eligible students may apply for discretionary awards and bursaries in October, when application forms and information are distributed. More detailed information on scholarships and bursaries can be found in the section on Awards.
Funding may also be available for students who are Mi’kmaq or Indigenous Black Nova Scotians and who are part of the Schulich School of Law’s Indigenous Black and Mi’kmaq (IB&M) Initiative. For further details, please see the description of the IB&M Initiative.
Dalhousie Law Alumni Association
President, The Honourable Judge Michael B. Sherar ('77)
The association has over 7,000 members composed of graduates and faculty of the Schulich School of Law. In addition, current students are considered non-voting members until graduation. The aims of the Dalhousie Law Alumni Association are to promote and encourage active participation of graduates in the life of the school and to establish and maintain strong relationships among alumni.
The Dalhousie Law Alumni mission statement: To promote cohesion of the community of Dalhousie Law graduates and support the Law School in its mission to provide a first class legal education incorporating liberal and professional elements, to students interested in the study of law.
The association has established branches in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Southern Ontario, Southeastern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each branch organizes its own local activities. Association members participate in admissions interviews. They act as firm contact persons for articling applicants, and take part in student information seminars on practice and law-related careers. In addition, each year the Association organizes an Alumni dinner, held in conjunction with class reunions.
The law alumni magazine, Hearsay, is sent out once a year to all graduates of the school to keep them informed of the latest events at the law school. In conjunction with the Law Students Society, the Law Alumni Association administers the Award for Excellence in Teaching Law. The Dalhousie Law Alumni Association also sponsors The Weldon Award for Unselfish Public Service. This annual award is given to a graduate for recognition of their unselfish public service to the community, and serves as a tribute to the school's first dean, Richard Chapman Weldon.
The association also administers the Bertha Wilson Honour Society. This society recognizes the law school's extraordinary alumni and showcases the impact and the geographic reach of their contributions to the legal profession, legal education, the judiciary, business and industry, charitable organizations, the arts or the community.
Career Development Office
Director, Career Services and Employer Relations: Shawn Swallow
The Career Development Office acts as a facilitator to assist students and graduates in finding articling positions, summer jobs, and law-related opportunities and serves a conduit of information relating to job postings, clerkships, scholarships, and graduate law study programs and awards. Individual career and job search counselling is provided to students, as is assistance with resumes and cover letters. The Career Development Office also presents a speaker’s series featuring practicing lawyers who serve as real-life examples of the diverse range of opportunities available to graduates with a legal education.
Admission to the Practice of Law
Prospective students are advised to consult the Law Society in the law district where they hope to practice for specific information on qualifications for admission to the Bar. Specific inquiries should be directed to the appropriate bar society.
Under the Rules and Regulations of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society a student desiring admission to the Bar of Nova Scotia must serve under articles of clerkship with a practicing solicitor for a period of twelve consecutive months after receiving a degree in Law from Dalhousie or any other approved University. Students are also required to complete the Bar Admission Course, and to pass examinations given during the Course.
Students who complete a period of articles in another province may apply to the Credentials Committee of the Barristers' Society for credit towards the twelve month requirement.
The Law Society of Upper Canada admits holders of the Dalhousie Juris Doctor degree to the Bar Admission Course conducted by the Society for candidates for admission to the practice of law in Ontario.
In other provinces of Canada where the common law system is in effect the degree of JD from Dalhousie is recognized as fulfilling academic qualifications and as preparation for practical training for admission to the Bar. Information concerning particular elective courses recommended by the law society of a Province for inclusion in a student's class of studies is available from the Career Development Office.
Beginning 2011, Dalhousie University has changed the designation of our first degree in law from LLB (Bachelor of Laws) to JD (Juris Doctor). Juris Doctor has become the more common designation for first professional law degrees in Canada, and the change at Dalhousie has been undertaken to ensure our degree is well recognized across Canada and internationally. The academic program remains unchanged from the LLB. The move to the JD (Juris Doctor) represents simply a change of designation and does not indicate any change in academic status of the law degree program. The JD degree remains a first professional degree to which students are usually admitted following three or four years of undergraduate study.
The change took effect September 1, 2011 and those entering our first year class in September 2011 and in subsequent years will graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
Conversion of Degrees
Graduates of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) program have the option to convert their degrees from LLB to a JD if they wish. If a graduate chooses to do nothing, their degree will remain as originally awarded. There is no time limit on conversions.
To have a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree converted to the Juris Doctor (JD), graduates must complete and return the Application for Change of Degree Designation form. The form can be found at www.dal.ca/parchments. There will be an administrative fee of $50 to cover the cost of conversion of the LLB to JD. This is the standard parchment replacement cost and includes any courier delivery costs.
Those who convert from LLB to a JD must submit the completed form along with their original LLB degree parchment and fee to the Registrar’s Office. The replacement parchment will be printed in English; reflect the degree name as Juris Doctor; and bear the signatures of the current Dean, President and Chair of Senate. The date on the parchment will be the date the replacement parchment is produced. The lower left hand corner of the parchment will bear a red ink stamp with the words “Issued to replace original Bachelor of Laws dated __________”; which will be the date the original LLB was awarded.
Any graduate who has lost their original parchment must submit an affidavit from a lawyer, commissioner of oaths or a notary public to confirm the loss, stating their full name, birth date, current address, graduating year, degree and circumstances of the loss.
The degree parchment can be picked up from the Registrar’s Office or will be mailed by courier based on the preference indicated on the form. Please note that once a graduate has chosen the Juris Doctor (JD) option, they will not be able to return to the original designation of Bachelor of Laws (LLB).
When the degree is converted, the official University record will also be adjusted and the change noted. The conversion will be noted on the transcript as follows: Bachelor of Laws: DD-MM-YYYY, followed by the comment: Converted to Juris Doctor: DD-MM-YYYY.
One copy of the revised official transcript will be enclosed at no cost with the new parchment.
For further information or assistance with degree conversions, please contact:
Telephone: (902) 494-6777