Faculty of Law
Law alumnus Frank MacInnis and his wife Beverly have given a gift of $2.5 million to the Faculty of Law. The donation is intended to support renovations of the first floor of the 33-year old Law Building. MacInnis, who graduated from the University of Alberta in 1971, is currently chairman and CEO of EMCOR Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company and one of the world's largest electrical and mechanical constructors.
The Faculty of Law was created in 1912. Since then, it has provided Alberta with lawyers versed in timely fields ranging from women's issues and rights to oil and gas law, resource law, labour law, and corporate law. Its current staff have written many of the textbooks currently in use at law schools across the country.
Like many of the faculties at the University of Alberta, the Faculty of Law has a longstanding relationship with the community. In 1913, the Law Society of Alberta turned responsibility for setting exams for students involved in legal education in Alberta over to the University.
In those days, a graduate with a degree in Arts, Law, Medicine, Science, or Literature could become a student-at-law. By articling in a law firm for three consecutive years, a student could obtain admission to the Bar.
With the responsibility to set and administer exams, the Faculty of Law quickly began to set a curriculum. Morning lectures were delivered at the courthouse in time for the students to make their way to their respective law firms for articling while afternoon lectures started at the end of office hours. By 1921, new legislation resulted in students' being required to study full-time at the University for three years to obtain a Bachelor of Laws degree.
The undergraduate experience at the Faculty of Law allows students to work in a collegial environment with legal visionaries. The continued support of alumni ensures that students are following in the footsteps of those who came before, including three Chief Justices of Canada and numerous provincial and federal politicians.
Students who obtain a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree may choose to enter graduate studies within the Faculty of Law and work toward a Master of Laws (LLM) degree or a Postgraduate Diploma in Law. The Faculty also offers a combined MBA and LLB degree program. The curriculum for the undergraduate program is conservative, stressing the important fundamentals of historical, political, economic, and ethical contexts of law. Indeed, the University of Alberta was one of the first to create a compulsory course in legal ethics. Other courses within the Faculty of Law reflect the changing needs of society. Courses added to the curriculum during the post-war years dealt with legal issues arising in areas such as oil and gas, natural resources, and labour. Today’s curriculum includes courses in women's issues and the law, Native law, medicine and law, and Pacific Rim law.
The Law Faculty’s Weir Library is named for the first University of Alberta law professor and subsequent dean (1926), John Alexander Weir, a Rhodes Scholar from Saskatchewan. Weir has been described as being “a master of the hypothetical case and the Socratic question.”* The library named in his honour was, for a time, housed in the Rutherford Library and constituted the home base for law students during the 1950s and 1960s. It wasn’t until 1964 that permanent classrooms and office space for faculty became available; until that time, law students set up camp in the Weir library and learned to be very comfortable in that environment. In many ways, the tradition of centring the study of law around the Weir Library has remained to this day, especially now that the Weir Library is housed at the core of the Law Centre, which opened in 1972.
Today, the Weir Library is considered one of the best law libraries in Canada, with over 300,000 volumes and numerous searchable digital databases. Its Special Collection Room houses rare Canadian titles published prior to Confederation and numerous English and American titles published before 1800. Reproductions of the Domesday Book and the Codex of Iceland are also housed in the Weir Library. The library is not only an important resource for students, but it is also used by lawyers and corporations from across the province.
Today, the Faculty's involvement with the community is extended through the many institutes and centres with which it is associated. These include the Alberta Law Reform Institute, Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, Centre for Constitutional Studies, Health Law Institute, and International Ombudsman Institute. By focusing the Faculty of Law within a centre-based environment, students and faculty are afforded greater opportunity to work on research, hear from visiting speakers, and reach out to the community with matters of law that spark interest there.
The Alberta Law Reform Institute prepares and delivers proposals concerning law reform that has not been dealt with through administrative or political processes. For example, the Institute recently developed a proposal concerning the need for legislation to address e-commerce.
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice is dedicated to clarifying and communicating information about the civil justice system to the public to ensure that citizens remain at the centre of the justice system.
The Centre for Constitutional Studies is a joint undertaking by the Departments of History and Classics and Political Science and the Faculty of Law. It aims to develop interdisciplinary study of national and international constitutional law.
The Health Law Institute is an international centre for health law that provides both public education and research on health law.
The International Ombudsman Institute is a worldwide organization of ombudsman offices responsible for handling complaints from the public about the way government is administered and for protecting the public against violation of rights, error, unfair decision, and other matters related to government transparency and accountability.
Publications coming out of the centres enhance the University’s reputation and build more opportunities to attract funding. Many of the Faculty’s sessional instructors come from these centres and institutes, providing current and practical insights into the curriculum.
The Faculty of Law has set its sights on offering a PhD program, and its proposal has been approved by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Council. The proposal must be approved by the Campus Alberta Quality Council, which will, in turn, make the recommendation to the Minister of Advanced Education. If the program receives full approval from the government, PhD students could enroll as early as Spring 2007.
Please visit the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law website for more information.
|Deans of the Faculty of Law|
|1986–1997||Timothy J. Christian|
|1976–1986||Frank Douglas Jones|
|1970–1976||Gerald H.L. Fridman|
|1948–1968||Wilbur Fee Bowker|
|1944–1947||George H. Steer (Acting)|
|1926–1942||John Alexander Weir|