Law Times

November 26, 2018

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Law Times • November 26, 2018 Page 3 Ministry cites employment concerns for lawyers Province denies approval for Ryerson law school BY ANITA BALAKRISHNAN Law Times R yerson University has been dealt a major set- back in the final stages of its plan for a law school, after the province has said it will not approve Ryerson's submis- sion to create a new juris doctor program in Toronto. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Univer- sities' refusal to grant Ryerson program approval for the law school may make it unlikely that the school will be able to move forward an enrolment funding budget it had previously pro- posed for the law school. Merrilee Fullerton, the min- ister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said in an emailed statement that "it was not in the best interest of the people of On- tario to approve the proposal at this time," citing concerns sur- rounding the use of tax dollars. "The Ministry considers many factors in making a recommen- dation to me. Factors like: wheth- er the program duplicates other programs in the province; labour market demand; student de- mand; appropriate tuition rates, and if the program aligns with an institutions Strategic Mandate Agreement," said Fullerton. Ryerson's initial proposal was based on escalating provincial funding through 2021, without which it could be unsustainable, according to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, which reviewed and approved the sub- mission in December 2017. Ryerson said, however, that it is not looking for new funding but "rather to transfer enrolment funding and OSAP, already ap- proved by the government, to- ward legal education." Ryerson's law dean of record, Anver Saloojee, said earlier this year that a type of provincial funding called a basic income unit was requested at $5,700 per student for 150 students entering the program in the first year. Fernando Garcia, vice presi- dent of legal and compliance and general counsel at Cargojet, says there are "huge access-to-justice issues" and that the Ryerson pro- gram was proposing to deliver the kind of lawyer to the com- munity that would serve more of it. "There's lots of opportunities that could come around. For ex- ample, if you can't afford a lawyer but you have a new type of lawyer that comes out who utilizes legal technology to minimize the cost of providing legal services, you can now, in essence, hit a whole new market that was not being served before because it couldn't afford it," he says. The manager of public af- fairs of university relations at Ryerson University, Johanna VanderMaas, said in an emailed statement that the school is "very disappointed" and noted that the law school had been approved by three accreditation bodies. "We will continue to work in good faith with the provincial government to explore a path forward to offer OSAP-eligible legal education that's innovative, promotes access and diversity and produces practice-ready law- yers to meet the growing needs of Ontarians and small businesses across the province," she says. However, in her statement, Fullerton said that law "jobs are expected to be more diffi- cult to find, the probability of unemployment is higher and wages and salaries have recently increased at a slower rate than other occupations." Ryerson's law degree program was set to open applications in August 2019 and begin classes in September 2020, the school's website says. The addition of another To- ronto-area law school would have made it the ninth in On- tario and 24th in the nation, based on data from the Council of Canadian Law Deans. However, the proposal came at a time when some young lawyers said they were facing a number of challenges, including mounting debt and a job shortage. Statistics from the law society and from Ryerson's law school approval proposal FLSC show the average debt of first-year Ontario law students is $35,358, which rises to an average of $53,876 in the second year and $71,444.17 in the third year. Then comes the challenge of finding a job to pay down that debt. A May 2018 report about the lawyer licensing process by the Law Society of Ontario's Professional Development and Competence Committee said only 10 per cent of Ontario law firms currently provide articling positions. An estimate by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario projects 1.6 new licensed lawyers for every one practising position in Ontario by 2025. Ryerson initially set tuition at $20,000 per year for law students, according to a report last year from the Academic Standards Committee of Ryerson's Senate. Law schools need to change to become more closely aligned with the marketplace for legal services, says Mark Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic, a legal business consultancy firm. Cohen says he is "really disappointed" with the prov- ince's decision. "Ryerson was to be a very dif- ferent type of law school with a very different curriculum. . . . And it was really designed to address and remedy the very problems that were cited as the reasons for voting down the pro- posal," he says. LT — With files from Aidan Macnab NEWS THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LITIGATION No matter how challenging, complex or costly the case may be, we will not stop in our pursuit of justice. READ HOW SOME OF OUR CASES ARE ADVANCING THE LAW: Surujdeo (2017 ONCA 41), and Stirrett (2018 ONSC 2595). 416-599-1700 | BOGOROCH.COM REFERRALS HONOURED AND APPRECIATED 150 KING STREET WEST, SUITE 1901 TORONTO, ONTARIO M5H 1J9 Bogoroch_LT_Oct_18.indd 1 2018-10-18 10:24 AM The province has denied a request by Ryerson University for enrolment funding for legal education.

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