Law Society of New Brunswick approves TWU School of Law

LANGLEY, BC—The Law Society of New Brunswick (LSNB) has given the green light to Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed School of Law.

After hearing multiple presentations on June 27, members voted 14-5 in favour of allowing TWU grads to practice law in New Brunswick. The LSNB joins the Law Societies of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and other provinces in upholding the decision of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to accept TWU graduates.

“The LSNB made their decision after thoughtful and measured expression of views and careful consideration of reports and submissions,” says TWU president Bob Kuhn. “The Supreme Court of Canada ruled eight to one in our favour in 2001 to allow our education graduates to teach in public schools, and today that landmark decision has been respected.

“When legal minds and due process are applied to this difficult decision involving fundamental rights and freedoms, the result has been a balancing of those rights and freedoms.”

TWU’s law school has seen its share of controversy, with much of the outcry focused on a clause in the university’s community covenant that forbids people from engaging in “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Critics charge this discriminates against present and future students in same-sex relationships—a claim that TWU has strongly rejected.

“Evangelical Christianity is an important part of the Canadian cultural mosaic,” says Kuhn. “In a free and democratic society the faith of TWU graduates cannot preclude them from practicing law.”

The June 27 hearing was “about ensuring our profession represents all of the communities that lawyers serve,” said LSNB president John Malone in a statement.

“The council always will recognize both religious freedoms and the right to sexual orientation without discrimination. No matter which law school they graduate from, all articled students complete Law Society training and evaluation. This includes the core aspects of professional responsibility, including non-discrimination. As well, the Law Society requires that lawyers not discriminate in their professional duties.”

Earlier this year, the  Law Society of Upper Canada voted 28-21 to deny Trinity Western law grads the right to practice in Ontario. A day later, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society voted 10-9 to accredit the school, but only on condition that TWU drop the policy on sexual intimacy from the community covenant.

Meanwhile a special general meeting of B.C. law society members in early June voted to tell its board of directors (Benchers) to reverse their approval.

The university has filed lawsuits against the Nova Scotia and Ontario law societies and a constitutional challenge has been filed in B.C. over Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk’s approval of the school.

While there are Christian law schools in other parts of the world, TWU will be the first in Canada. It hopes to launch the three-year program in September 2016.

(Trinity Western University, The Globe and Mail)

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