Our story so far
The TRU Faculty of Law opened its doors in 2011. Located in the welcoming city of Kamloops in unceded Secwepemc Territory (ne Secwepemcúl’ecw), we are the first law school in the interior of BC. Our location is significant to both our founding and our continuing mission. This new law school was founded to meet a need for legal education based in interior and northern BC, driven in part by the lack of legal services and access to justice in many non-metropolitan communities in British Columbia and Alberta.
We have grown rapidly, from our first class of 71 students in 2011 to a full cohort of 330 students today. Our faculty members are renowned, having studied and practised law around the world, bringing with them a remarkable breadth and depth of academic and legal practice experience. Our students come from diverse backgrounds; what they all have in common is the pioneering spirit that brings them to learn law in a dynamic new environment. Our alumni are establishing their legal careers in the major cities of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario as well as in smaller communities across Canada. We are proud of our graduates’ record of success finding articling positions. For our alumni who have graduated so far, between 94 and 98 percent of those known to be seeking articles had reportedly secured them nine months after graduation.
TRU Faculty of Law has already achieved many milestones in its short history, including: founding a prestigious in-house legal journal, the Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law (CJCCL); establishing the TRU Legal Information Service to provide legal information and referrals to the Kamloops community and TRU students; starting the first student-staffed free legal clinic in the BC Interior, the Thompson Rivers University Community Legal Clinic; and, working with our neighbours, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, by incorporating into our first-year program a day of learning in the former Kamloops Indian Residential School (now the Chief Louis Centre) and Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. We have established a notable record of research productivity and quality far in excess of expectations for a small, newly established Faculty of Law. We have achieved important successes in moot court competition; our student team placed first in the British Columbia Appeal Court Moot in 2015, and we hosted the competition for the first time in 2017. In the 2017-2018 academic year, TRU enters the international mooting arena with our first team to compete in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. This builds upon our continuing involvement in the Kawaskimhon, Wilson and McIntyre Moots as well as the Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada in Toronto and the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition in San Diego.
Our vision is to be known as a law school that provides students a well-rounded, practice-relevant education in the fundamental knowledge and core competencies that lawyers need to succeed and to serve their clients well, and to lead the way towards a more accessible, citizen-focused justice system through our teaching, research and service.
We will lead among Canadian law schools in:
- Preparing students for career success as legal professionals who embody the best traditions of our profession and who are ready to lead its evolution in the future;
- Creating and disseminating research with local, regional, national and global impact that enriches public understanding of law and justice, which will support our teaching program and enhance our reputation as a research institution; and
- Inculcating in our students, and embodying in our own work, an ethic of service to clients, to communities and to the public interest, that includes a strong commitment to meaningful justice for everyone.
Our mission is:
- To teach students in a way that equips them to be “full lawyers” — the legal professionals that the public will need in the coming decades, with the skills, attributes and habits of mind that will enable them to lead the profession into the future and to meet the needs of the public that our profession is pledged to serve;
- To produce excellent research by professors and students with real-world impact that deepens critical understanding of the role of law and lawyers in society and contributes to positive change locally, nationally and globally; and
- To serve our communities, the legal profession, the public interest, and the health and integrity of the justice system, by taking a leading role in ensuring that justice is genuinely accessible to all.
Social, business and technological change are bringing about fundamental redefinition of some traditional aspects of the lawyer’s role. We are dedicated to educating lawyers to be flexible, intelligent, ethical and empathetic problem-solvers, with excellent communication skills and a deep commitment to equality and inclusiveness: the skills, attributes and values that will enable them to thrive and lead in an evolving professional environment. This is what our commitment to educating the “full lawyer” means.
We recognize the challenge of providing justice for all members of society, including the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and those who face barriers accessing justice. Leadership in responding to this challenge is a core part of our mission.
As a student-funded professional school within a public research university, we are dedicated to providing the highest level of service in meeting the educational and career-preparation needs of our students while fulfilling our commitment to the justice system and the communities we serve through our scholarly and practical work.
Situated on unceded Secwepmc territory (ne Secwepemcúl’ecw), in a place rich with natural beauty and resources, we are strongly aware of the importance of our location and its history in shaping the identity and purpose of this law school. We enthusiastically join in TRU’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and intercultural understanding between Indigenous, local, regional, national and global communities.
We are committed to these core values:
Community and collegiality. We value the outstanding friendliness, supportiveness and collegiality of the TRU Law community, and the collaborative work of our faculty. We value our strong relationships with communities and neighbours, including: the tremendously supportive local legal community; the friendly and welcoming City of Kamloops; the legal profession in British Columbia, Canada, and beyond; Thompson Rivers University; the broader academic community; our neighbour, Tk'emlups te Secwepemc, and our host, the Secwepemc Nation, as well as other Indigenous communities. We care about the educational and professional formation of all our students to reach their full potential, and we create supportive learning environments that honour our students as individuals and empower them to thrive in the ways that fit them best.
Partnership with students and alumni. We value the exceptionally active role that students play in governance and decision-making at TRU Faculty of Law and the pioneering spirit that they bring to our institutional culture, as well as the dynamic participation of our growing community of law alumni in the life of the law school.
A culture of inclusion. We value diversity, respect for the equality and dignity of all, and appreciation of a wide variety of opinions, life experiences, and points of view. These values are central to Canadian legal ordering and to the academic enterprise, as they are to us. We value the perspective, experience and insight of our diverse student body and of our Indigenous students, hosts, and neighbours, whose knowledge and insights enrich the study of law with a commitment to reconciliation, anti-racism and intercultural exchange.
Transparency, fairness and openness. We value fairness, integrity and collaboration in decision-making processes, and the principle that, to the greatest extent practicable, they should be transparent and open to participation by all concerned.
Integrated, progressive legal education. We value an approach to legal education that emphasizes the connections between different legal subject areas and teaches students skills and strategies that cut across the formal divisions between subjects. We seek to build progressively from the foundations created in the first year of legal study, so as to reinforce and develop increasingly sophisticated skills throughout the course of each student’s law school experience. We look to provide students with extensive opportunities for hands-on skills development, including through their work at the Community Legal Clinic, at the Legal Information Service, through Pro Bono Students Canada and on the Journal. Lawyers have many roles, including the roles of advisor, technical expert, negotiator, strategist, drafter, policymaker, change agent, advocate, and effective leader. We provide students with opportunities to develop these diverse skills, including through traditional experience-based learning at our growing Community Legal Clinic and Journal, and innovative experiences in courses such as designing technological applications to enhance access to justice, getting out of the class room to witness and learn from members of the Secwepemc Nation, as well as community-connected opportunities created through faculty involvement in non-profit organizations. We are committed to educating our students and pursue our own scholarship in ways that deepen understanding of the well-rounded skill set of the full lawyer.
Access to justice. We value the ideal of a justice system that is accessible to and serves the needs of all. Reflecting our origin as an institution created in part to respond to a deficit in legal services in the interior and northern British Columbia and in non-metropolitan communities, we are committed to improving access to justice for all Canadians, in particular those who are marginalized, disadvantaged and underserved by the justice system, including by using innovative tools and approaches to provide legal help in more affordable and accessible ways.
We have come a long way in a short time, growing from an idea to a full-fledged law school in just a few years. To consolidate and build on our achievements so far, these are our priorities for the next three to five years of TRU Law:
Equipping our students for career success. Prepare our students for rewarding career opportunities, including opportunities to work in communities that are legally underserved, and equip them to succeed and thrive in their careers. Sustain and continually improve our outstanding record of success in articling and employment placements.
Practice-related, skills-focused legal education. Deliver more opportunities for learning experiences that our students can apply in their future work as legal professionals in a wide variety of contexts. Provide a practical and flexible legal education that is not narrowly technical but focused on engagement with real-world problems and client needs, analytically sophisticated, and holistic, reflecting the connections between theory and practice and between content and skills, and between the lawyer’s skill and our responsibility to provide justice. Enhance the opportunities for students to acquire and develop skills progressively, including by adopting “scaffolding” approaches to enable students to work up from their initial foundation in learning to “think like a lawyer” so as to acquire increasingly complex and sophisticated skills. Develop students’ ability to think critically and strategically, to see the connections between different areas of law and to understand the higher-level questions, and practical aptitudes, that cut across them.
Retention and recruitment of faculty. Maintain and build on our reputation as an excellent, dynamic and productive teaching and research faculty by retaining our distinguished full-time and sessional faculty members, and attracting outstanding new members to be part of our team.
Research success. Proceed even further on our already impressive trajectory of achievement in legal research. Continue to bring together outstanding collections of legal scholarship in the Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law, and to provide students the opportunity to develop high-level editing skills by working on the Journal. Build on our strong record of producing excellent scholarship with real-world impact, and of engaging with a wide range of communities through our research activities. Continue to exceed expectations for a law school of our size and age on measures of research success, including through peer-reviewed publications, grant awards, judicial citations, and public dissemination of our work.
Improving access to justice. Strengthen and add to our existing programs and initiatives that enhance access to justice in our community and beyond, and that foster our graduates’ commitment to improving access to justice, including the Community Legal Clinic, courses such as Community Lawyering and Apps for Access to Justice, and initiatives that build anti-racism skills and foundations for working with Indigenous peoples and marginalized communities.
Action on reconciliation and intercultural dialogue. Build on the work that we have already done in response to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in particular in implementing the Commission’s Call to Action #28, as well as our related efforts continually to improve intercultural knowledge, dialogue and respect. Provide improved support and inclusion for Indigenous students by adopting recognized best practices to ensure that this is an educational environment where their perspectives are valued and where they will flourish. Establish our law school as a highly attractive destination for aspiring Indigenous lawyers, especially those who are attracted by a close connection to BC interior communities and smaller communities. Celebrate the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in all aspects of the law school curriculum and community.
Financial sustainability. Adopt effective strategies to secure the financial sustainability of TRU Law and respond to both foreseeable and unexpected challenges. Ensure that all decisions on investing our resources are prudent and transparent, and aimed at bringing ongoing and sustained benefits to TRU Law and to our students’ educational experience.
Enhancing our reputation and visibility. Invest in communicating our identity and our strengths clearly and effectively to the legal and academic communities and beyond, in British Columbia, nationally, and internationally. Establish a strong, distinctive reputation that reflects our record of achievement and our vision.