On November 21, 2013, the Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) made an historic announcement that Lakehead University was successful in its innovative application to proceed with an Integrated Practice Curriculum (IPC) model of legal education.
It complements Lakehead’s education model
Lakehead’s model of legal education fuses the theory of law with the practice of law; where students not only learn law, but learn the necessary practice skills to use that law effectively.
The curriculum at Lakehead University Faculty of Law is aimed at integrating legal skills with substantive legal knowledge. Skills are taught progressively and coordinated so that they build one upon the other -- course by course, year by year.
Students enrolled in the three year JD program at Lakehead will complete integrated practice training and do Practice Placements within their three year degree.
Integrating legal skill training into the JD program is exactly what was proposed by the Carnegie Report into legal education in 2007. It also mirrors the training and placements offered in other professional programs such as medicine, nursing and education.
We take full advantage of our small size by offering meaningful experiential education to all of our law students. Skills are taught at Lakehead in small classes using hands-on, face-to-face instruction.
The proposal to integrate practice training and Practice Placements into the JD program furthers the mission of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University to serve Northern Ontario and to provide better access to justice in Canada.
The focus of Lakehead’s program is to see its graduates “practice ready” to work in the North and in sole and small town practice; this means our students need to be knowledgeable in Aboriginal law, resource law, and the realities of small firm practice.
Incorporating the integrated practice curriculum into the JD degree allows students to remain in the North for their legal education, professional training and for Practice Placement.
Practice Placements are located across Northern Ontario and in smaller centres across Ontario; areas where today articling positions are not plentiful, but where the need for new lawyers is high.
It saves our students time and money
JD students at Lakehead will have 18 credit hours of instruction per semester, which amounts to 108 credit hours over the six semesters of study. 90 credit hours is the minimum set for the common law degree by the Federation of Law Societies. The other Ontario JD programs require between 90 and 96 credit hours. It is within the extra hours of instruction that the integrated practice curriculum training can be accommodated without compromising the academic integrity of the JD degree. See also The Curriculum.
Most importantly, the Lakehead integrated practice curriculum will not cost the students additional fees or time. The existing JD tuition will include the integrated practice training and Practice Placement.
Upon completion of their JD degree Lakehead graduates will not need to article or complete any other course of study.
What will it mean for incoming Faculty of Law students?
All admitted students will be a part of the IPC and will have a legal education fused with skills throughout the program.
Any current students will be able to opt-out of the Practice placement term, but we expect the majority, if not all, will want to participate. The curriculum they are currently experiencing is already reflective of the integrated practice curriculum.
In the first semester, our students will have written a factum and done an oral submission in Constitutional Law, done a bail review hearing and a sentence hearing in Criminal Law. They will have the opportunity to write an opinion letter for Tort Law and have done a contract negotiation in legal teams for Contract Law, as well as drafted key contract provisions. Students can expect more types of skill exercises as they progress through the JD program.