One of the greatest strengths of the University of Calgary Faculty of Law is the modern curriculum that permits students to study all important areas of law. Students are provided with basic substantive knowledge and skills in their first year before pursuing general or specialized interests in their second and third years.
The University of Calgary Faculty of Law also boasts special strengths in the areas of natural resources, energy and environmental law along with skills training, all in a context of social responsibility. The JD program is designed to develop students' skills in important areas including research, legal problem-solving (including planning), legal communication, advocacy, interviewing, counselling and negotiation. An emphasis is placed on the human element involved in any legal career, including considerations of professional responsibility, ethics, and working in a diverse society.
The Faculty's academic strengths are complemented by an exceptional learning environment. Small class sizes make it possible for learning to occur in a more intimate setting. Murray Fraser Hall is incorporated with recent technologies, including audio-visual equipment and a microcomputer laboratory. In addition, the teaching staff is comprised of both faculty members and practicing lawyers. This close interaction of faculty with members of the practicing profession, both of whom are committed to teaching and learning, enriches the learning process.
There are no set pre-law requirements. The Law School recognizes that attracting students from a variety of disciplines makes for an enriched climate within the school. The modern law school will attract students not only from the humanities and the social sciences but also from the fields of pure and applied science, from social work, from environmental studies, from education, and from business. Notwithstanding the lack of formal prerequisites, it is strongly recommended that students take several courses at university which stress the appropriate and creative use of the English language. In any legal endeavour, the ability to articulate an argument both orally and in writing is of vital importance. Also worthy of consideration are courses which give students an opportunity to develop and test their powers of analysis and to employ both information and judgement in comprehending and solving complex problems of human choice. For students who desire to develop a program which will give them some background in the social, historical, political, philosophical and economic milieu in which law operates, a series of courses are available at the University of Calgary in both the humanities and social sciences which provide these perspectives. The disciplines involved include Sociology, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Philosophy, Psychology, Economics, Religious Studies, and Greek and Roman Studies.
The Law Program
The overriding purpose of the JD degree is to provide a sound basis for the intellectual, human and professional development of the legally trained person throughout that person's career. The content and structure of the program recognizes that the learning of the law and its application is a life-long process.
The Faculty of Law has identified the following minimum standard of competence for our graduates:
A graduate must be able to find and use relevant legal principles to identify issues, formulate an argument, advocate a position, plan transactions and resolve problems in a professionally responsible manner.
There are many components to this standard:
- The student must be able to find relevant legal principles. This means that he/she must have knowledge of a critical mass of substantive law, must be able to retrieve legal information and must possess the analytical ability to distil the particular legal principle from its context, while still understanding the importance of that context.
- The use of the law connotes the ability to make assessments of relevance and cogency. Using the law involves a number of skills which are developed further below.
- Identifying the issues requires an overall understanding of the subject matter and an appreciation that the formulation of the question is a crucial aspect of problem-solving.
- In formulating an argument, the student must be able to see the reasons both for and against the application of existing principles to a new fact situation and to develop those reasons using a persuasive style. This requires clarity, organization and well developed communication skills as well as an understanding of the importance of policy and the changing values of society.
- Advocating a position is a broader concept than appellate argumentation in an adversarial context. It includes the ability to put forward, plan and protect a client's needs in a solicitor's practice and the ability to use the law in formulating arguments relating to broader interests than those of an individual client.
- Resolving problems and planning transactions require many different skills and styles, and the knowledge of the possibilities and how to use them responsibly are necessary elements in being able to perform these functions.