Schulich School of Law

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Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University
Schulich School of Law crest.png
Motto Latin: Lex Fons Lucis
Motto in English
"Law is the source of light"
Established October 30, 1883
Type Public Law School
Dean Kim Brooks
Academic staff
Students 486[1]
Location Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Campus Urban
Colours Black and Gold          
Nickname Dal Law
Schulich School of Law Logo.png

The Schulich School of Law is a faculty of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Formerly called Dalhousie Law School, it was established in 1883, making it the oldest university common law school in the British Commonwealth. It is the largest law school in Atlantic Canada and attracts students from all parts of Canada and abroad. The law school is a member of the North American Consortium on Legal Education. The school was renamed the Schulich School of Law in October 2009 after receiving a $20 million benefaction from Canadian businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich.[2]


Dalhousie Law School lays claim to being "the first university-based common law school in the Commonwealth."[3] Unlike Ontario's Osgoode Hall, which was first established in 1862 under the auspices of the Law Society of Upper Canada and subsequently shut down several times before re-opening in 1889, Dalhousie Law School sought to treat the study of law as a liberal education. It was not, as Osgoode was, an outpost for the province's professional law society where the law was "merely a technical craft."[4] In fact, at that time the establishment of a full-time professional university common law school was so radical and the School's influence so great that legal historians cite Dalhousie Law School's founding as the beginning of the first period of common law education in Canada that laid the basis for law school as it is known today.[5]

Dalhousie's early experiments in legal education eventually served as the foundation on which numerous common law schools based their curricula across Canada. For instance, in W. Wesley Pue's Story of Legal Education in British Columbia, which chronicles the establishment of the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law some 62 years after Dalhousie Law School first opened its doors, Pue notes that:

"Dalhousie" serves as a sort of code-word among legal educators in Canada, much as "Harvard" does in the United States of America. It invokes a vision of intellectually ambitious, rigorous, and scholarly approaches to education for the profession of law. In British Columbia, the transformation from part-time to full-time study involved the implementation of a model of legal education that was "Dalhousie" in all respects.[6]

This rigorous training in legal education became synonymous with the tenure of Dalhousie Law School's founding Dean, Richard Chapman Weldon. In discussing the motivations that led to the establishment of a full-time common law school, Weldon described the "'legitimate ambition' of 'generous spirits who wish their country well' to build a law school 'that shall influence the intellectual life of Canada as Harvard and Yale have influenced the intellectual life of New England.'"[7] Weldon himself demonstrated this commitment to public service time and again, both as Dean of Dalhousie Law School and as a Canadian Member of Parliament.[8]

Based on Weldon's comments in his inaugural address at the opening of the School, it is perhaps not surprising that Dalhousie Law School has shared a storied connection with its counterpart at Harvard University. Although Dalhousie was influenced early on by the high standards of academic excellence set by Harvard Law School, it placed a decidedly unique emphasis on the subjects of public law, constitutional history, and international law, fields that were notably absent from Harvard's curriculum in the 1880s.[9]


University rankings
Global rankings
Dalhousie University
Canadian rankings
Maclean's Common Law[10] 6

The school is ranked in the top three Canadian law schools in Corporate Knights' 2011 Knight Schools Survey.[11] Maclean's 2013 ranking of Canadian common law schools placed the school sixth out of 16. It was the first Canadian law school awarded the Emil Gumpuert Award by the American College of Trial Lawyers for excellence in trial advocacy training.[12]


On September 30, 2009, Dalhousie University President Tom Traves and Dean Phillip Saunders announced that philanthropist Seymour Schulich presented a $20 million gift designated entirely for the Faculty of Law. In honour and recognition of Schulich's support, the Faculty of Law was renamed the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. The greatest portion of the donation will create 41 new scholarships, each averaging $12,000.[13]


The Weldon Law Building, Dalhousie University

The school is situated in the Weldon Law Building, on Studley Campus. The building is named after the first Dean of the school, Richard Chapman Weldon. Originally completed in 1966, it has been renovated three times. On August 16, 1985, a lightning strike caused a short in the electrical system which started a fire that destroyed the top floor of the building which housed the library.[14] The new Sir James Dunn Law Library opened in 1989. The most recent refurbishment took place in 2004, with the James and Barbara Palmer Wing.

Degrees offered[edit]

Students attending the Schulich School of Law may undertake a regular Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree or elect to concentrate their J.D. in one of four specific areas: health law, business law, marine and environmental law, and law and technology.

In January 2011, the Senate voted to change Dalhousie's law degree designation from a Bachelor of Laws to a Juris Doctor.[15]

In addition, the school has a number of combined-degree programmes: J.D./M.B.A., J.D./M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration), J.D./M.L.I.S. (Master of Library and Information Studies), and J.D./M.H.A. (Master of Health Administration).

The law school also offers postgraduate studies which lead to the degrees of Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor in the Science of Law (J.S.D.)

As an accredited law school in Canada, graduates of the Juris Doctor Programme are eligible to proceed to bar admission and articling program throughout the country.


The average Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score of students accepted into Dalhousie's JD program is 161. In 2013, 170 students were admitted from a pool of over 1,400 applicants.[16]

Institutes and legal aid service[edit]

The law school is the home of the Health Law Institute, Law and Technology Institute, and the Marine & Environmental Law Institute.[17][18][19]

The Dalhousie Legal Aid Service was founded in 1970 and provides important legal services to the Halifax area. It brings together third-year law students, practising lawyers and community actors to serve the less fortunate segment of the community. It is the oldest clinical law program in Canada and the only community law clinic in Nova Scotia.[20]

Student life[edit]

Domus Legis Society[edit]

Domus Legis logo.png

Law student life at Dalhousie is known for its collegiality and tradition. The student-run Domus Legis Society (better known as Domus Legis) is Canada's oldest social society for law students, and has operated since 1965. It was created by Dalhousie law students "to promote good fellowship among congenial men and women at the Faculty of Law of Dalhousie University; to encourage a high standard of professional work; and to assist by every honourable means the advancement of its members."[21]

The Domus Legis continues to be run by students of the Schulich School of Law independent of the university administration. It receives some support from alumni, and from Canadian law firms. The society adheres to a constitution and is run by an executive composed of students from the Faculty of Law who are elected annually. Despite its independence, the Domus Legis has close customary ties to faculty, alumni, visiting justices and the Dean, who is given honorary designation as "Member #1."[21]

Over the years, traditions have grown to include the customary signing of the Domus Legis Society's walls by law graduates and visiting dignitaries. The last of this tradition is proudly displayed in the Weldon Law building student lounge with the "Homeless Class of 2005." The original building that housed the society was located at 1255 Seymour Street, however it was demolished in January 2004. When the executive was finishing the final cleaning-out of the house in January 2004, the slogan "usque ad mortem bibendum" was re-discovered on the back of the Domus' exterior sign. Derived from Latin, "usque ad mortem bibendum" translates as "Drink Till You Die."[21] After the demolition, Domus Legis' many traditions still live on, including the weekly "Domus Night" which takes place every Thursday and the annual Halloween party which attracts law students and other faculties. Efforts to acquire a new home for Domus Legis continue along with Alumni support. The name "Domus Legis" derives from Latin, meaning "House of Law."[21]

Domus Legis membership is open to all students of the Schulich School of Law.[21]

Dalhousie Law Students Society[edit]

The Dalhousie Law Students Society is the elected student government of Schulich School of Law. It is composed of seven executive members, a representative from each section in first year, three representatives each from second and third year, a Black students representative, an Aboriginal students representative, a Chair and a Secretary. The society represents the student voice in all aspects of the law school including social, financial, athletic and academic areas.[22]

Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies[edit]

Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies logo.png

The Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies is a non-profit, academic law journal that publishes work from current law students and recent alumni in Canada and throughout the world.

Established in 1991, the Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies is a forum that promotes reflection and debate about contemporary legal issues. As one of the only publications of its kind in Canada, the Journal serves as a unique vehicle for law students to publish their work.

The DJLS is published once per academic year and maintains a broad subscription base that includes law firms, law school libraries, corporations, government departments, alumni, and legal professionals from around the globe. The Journal is also indexed in the HeinOnline database.

An entirely student-run publication, the DJLS is managed by an editorial board, and over seventy volunteers comprising students from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie assist in production and publication.

It is distinct from the Dalhousie Law Journal which is a peer-reviewed journal produced by faculty, rather than students.[23]

The Weldon Times[edit]

The Weldon Times is a law student run newspaper.

Notable alumni[edit]

Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University has produced a number of accomplished alumni in the course of its history, including over 300 judicial appointments to every level of court in every province of Canada. The law school's alumni, for example, constitute 20 percent of the Federal Court of Canada and 25 percent of the Tax Court of Canada.[12] Notable alumni include:

Prime Ministers[edit]

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada[edit]

Justices of International Courts[edit]

Other Notable Justices[edit]

Law-Makers / Politicians[edit]

Academics / Scholars[edit]

Business / Corporate Law[edit]

Legal Activists[edit]


Lieutenant Governors[edit]


Arts & Pop Culture[edit]

List of Deans[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b LSAC - JD: Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law. 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  2. ^ "Dalhousie law school receives $20M gift". CBC News. October 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ Schulich School of Law. 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  4. ^ Waite, Peter B. The Lives of Dalhousie University: Lord Dalhousie's college. McGill-Queen's Press, 1994, p. 140.
  5. ^ Bowker, W.F. and Timothy J. Christian. "Legal Education." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica-Dominion Institute. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  6. ^ Pue, W. Wesley. "Chapter 7: Law’s Content." The Story of Legal Education in British Columbia. UBC Law: History. 1995. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  7. ^ Bourne, C.B. Canadian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 12. UBC Press, 1974, p. 92.
  8. ^ "WELDON, Richard Chapman." Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  9. ^ Waite, Peter B. Lord of Point Grey: Larry MacKenzie of U.B.C.. UBC Press, 1987, p. 36,
  10. ^ "2013 Common Law University Ranking". Maclean's. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  11. ^ The 2011 Knights School Survey Corporate Knights
  12. ^ a b "About Schulich School of Law" <>
  13. ^ Marilyn Smulders (October 15, 2009). "Introducing the Schulich School of Law". Dal News. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Senate votes to change Dalhousie’s law degree designation from an LLB to a JD
  16. ^ Admissions Guide. Schulich School of Law Admissions. Retrieved 2014-09-18.
  17. ^ [1] Health Law Institute
  18. ^ [2] Law and Technology Institute
  19. ^ [3] Marine & Environmental Law Institute
  20. ^ About Dalhousie Legal Aid Dalhousie University
  21. ^ a b c d e Society History Domus Legis Society
  22. ^ Governance - Dalhousie Law Students Society
  23. ^,%20Journals%20and%20Publications/Journals/Dalhousie_Law_Journal/index.php
  24. ^ Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition, by John Sawatsky, 1991
  25. ^ "Brian Mulroney." Canada History. Access History Web Company, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2010. <>.
  26. ^ "Charles Joseph Clark: Biography" <>
  27. ^ "Charles Joseph Clark: Biography" <>.
  28. ^ "The Honourable Mr. Justice Edmund Leslie Newcombe." Judges of the Court. Supreme Court of Canada, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  29. ^ "Who was F.W. Howay"? <>
  30. ^ "His Honor Judge Frederick William Howay (1867-1943): British Columbia Marine Historian" <>
  32. ^ "Who's who: Players." CBC News In Depth. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 18 Apr 2008. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  33. ^ "About Howard." Howard Epstein, MLA, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  34. ^ "The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay." Conservative Party of Canada, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2010. <>.
  35. ^ "Profile." Bennett Jones, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2010. <Hon. A. Anne McLellan P.C., O.C.>.
  36. ^ "Canadian leaders saluted as honorary degree recipients." Dalnews. Dalhousie University, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2010. <>.
  37. ^ "The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Q.C.." Senator Don Oliver, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  38. ^ "Geoff Plant, Q.C.." Heenan Blaikie LLP, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  39. ^ "Innis Christie was one of the great labour law scholars in this country...." <>.
  40. ^ "Innis taught Canada's first-ever course in employment law in the early 1970s 2 and in 1980, he published the first-ever Canadian academic treatise on the subject..." <>.
  41. ^ "See Generally: A History of Canadian Legal Thought: Collected Essays" <>.
  42. ^ "The Canadian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 14 ..., Volume 14; Volume 1976" <>
  43. ^ "1.2 The Law Reform Commissions Era" <>
  44. ^ "Essays in the History of Canadian Law: In honour of R.C.B. Risk" <>.
  45. ^ "Henry Borden entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia" <>.
  46. ^ <>
  47. ^ "Dalhousie Law Alumni Reunion Dinner 2005." Heresay. 2006: 22. Print.
  48. ^ "James S. Palmer." AIMS, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Hugh H. Turnbull, Chairman and Managing Director
  51. ^ The Honourable Mr. Howard I. Weston, Q.C. Heresay. 2006: 22. Print
  52. ^ "Meet Elizabeth." Elizabeth May. Green Party of Canada, n.d. Web. 22 Dec 2010. <>.
  53. ^ "The road less travelled." Heresay. 2006: 8. Print.
  54. ^ "The Top 25 Most Influential - Criminal Law/Human Rights <>.
  55. ^ 100 Great Black Britons.
  56. ^ "THE HONOURABLE JIM PRENTICE." Conservative Party of Canada, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  57. ^ "John Robert Nicholson." Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, n.d. Web. 8 Jan 2011. <>.
  58. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°38′13″N 63°35′30″W / 44.63694°N 63.59167°W / 44.63694; -63.59167