May 17, 2011
Some cynics have responded to the establishment of a law school at TRU with: “Just what we need — more lawyers.” They probably get cynical when they read news articles about smart defence lawyers keeping people out of jail who are obviously guilty.
High-profile cases like this are bound to make the news, but the vast majority of what goes on in the legal profession is relatively mundane — helping people who, for one reason or another, have managed to get in trouble with the law or who need the law to help them solve problems in their lives.
An article in Maclean’s magazine from two years ago points out that while Canada’s population has risen steadily over the past 30 years, the number of law schools has stayed the same.
As with any other product, “the price of [legal services] is a function of supply and demand,” says Vern Krishna, a lawyer and law professor at the University of Ottawa. When it comes to lawyers, “we have a deliberately constrained supply,” he says. “Our law schools have shut their doors tight.”
Over the past 30 years, Canada’s population and its need for legal services has ballooned, yet the number of law students who graduate each year is “virtually unchanged,” notes Krishna. Today, Canada has 16 common law schools, the same number it had three decades ago, when the population was smaller by a third. While some schools have opened extra spaces, the impact has been minimal—in 2006, 2,973 law students were admitted to the profession, just 133 more than a decade before.
A lot of people want to become lawyers, but can’t. A lot of people want a lawyer, but can’t find one. Be sure to read the whole article and you’ll agree that the law school at TRU is long overdue.