Faculty of Law Dean William Flanagan has developed a five-year framework for the development of the Faculty.
Flanagan’s framework, which he presented to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 19, addressed the various ways the faculty plans to adapt to changes within the profession, as well as new ways to enrich learning and research.
The changes, which include increasing enrolment, hiring additional faculty and creating an additional clinic, were first proposed last year. The changes took effect for the 2014-15 academic year.
The number of first-year students entering the law program will be raised from roughly 165 to almost 200 in order for the school, considered one of the smallest in Ontario, to compete with larger schools.
Tuition fees for Ontario law schools were deregulated between 1998-2004, but the Faculty didn’t raise tuition as high as the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall law schools, making the quality of their resources less comparable.
In order to increase enrolment, the addition of new faculty members is also a priority for the Faculty of Law. The current student to teacher ratio is 19 to one.
By 2019, the number of staff will increase by 35.
The framework also stipulates new undergraduate programming, including online courses, by 2016.
Law Students’ Society President Sean Coughlin said increased enrolment was an initial concern for some students because of potential increase in competition. Based on Orientation Week, Coughlin said he hasn’t noticed a lack of community, but added that it’s too early to tell what the effects of increased enrolment will be.
Another addition to the Faculty of Law is the establishment of a Family Law clinic. Queen’s Law already offers four other clinics: Queen’s Legal Aid, Prison Law, Elder Law and Business Law. With the addition of the Family Law clinic, approximately 100 upper-year students will be able to participate in clinical programs each year.
Currently, the various clinics are scattered, in various rooms in Sir John A. Macdonald Hall. To create one central location for the clinics, the University has leased the top floor of LaSalle Mews at 303 Bagot St. and has started renovating in preparation for the clinics’ relocation.
The clinics are expected to move by the end of November, establishing what Dean Flanagan called “a Queen’s presence in downtown Kingston”.
Flanagan told the Journal the increase in enrolment would allow the faculty to enrich its resources without altering the character of the school.
“The clinical program would not be possible without the enrolment increase, which will bring in an additional $2 million to fund the clinic over the next four years,” he said.
Queen’s, along with six other schools in Ontario, has been granted $400,000 in funding for the next three years from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) for the Family Law clinic.
The establishment of the Family Law clinic is also one of the ways the dean plans to adapt to the changes in the legal profession.
“There is great legal service for those who can afford it, but for the working class, they are finding it a little out of their reach,” he said.
“So the profession needs to rethink the way they package and provide these services to make it more accessible and more affordable.”
Nye Thomas, the director general, policy and strategic research of Legal Aid Ontario said there’s been a recent “crisis” in the family law courts of Ontario where “half the people appearing in family law courts in Ontario are not represented by a lawyer”.
“There are two purposes to the funding,” he said.
“One is to provide family law services to those who can’t afford it. The second is that we’re hoping that funding this clinic will encourage law students to go into family law and choose it as a career.”
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