|For immediate release||August 27, 2015|
Hearing in TWU v. Law Society of BC concludes
Vancouver – August 27, 2015. The BC Supreme Court hearing before Chief Justice Hinkson on Trinity Western University v. Law Society of BC concluded yesterday afternoon. The Chief Justice reserved his decision.
At issue is the Law Society’s decision not to approve a proposed law school at Trinity Western University. The Law Society’s position at the hearing was that everyone should have equal access to law school, which is the entry point for the legal profession and the bench. The covenant that students must sign as a condition of attending Trinity Western University’s proposed law school is discriminatory. It effectively excludes those in the LGBTQ community and those in committed common-law relationships, and denies women reproductive choice.
Canadian statistics suggest that there are more than three law school applicants for every available law school seat. As the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged in the previous TWU decision, members of the LGBTQ community “would not be tempted to apply for admission, and could only sign the [covenant] at a considerable personal cost.” This effectively excludes members of the LGBTQ community from the school, and considering the competition for limited law school seats, potentially from the legal profession.
Approving the proposed law school would create two-tiered access to the profession, where some have access to all law school seats in the province, and others do not. Limiting access to the legal profession by requiring compliance with the provisions of the covenant as a condition of attending the proposed law school is inconsistent with the fundamental values that the legal profession upholds and protects, and is inconsistent with the Law Society’s statutory mandate to protect the rights and freedoms of all people.
The Law Society of BC regulates the more than 11,000 practising lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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