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University of Toronto Faculty of Law

University of Toronto Faculty of Law
File:Utoronto coa.svg
Established 1887, 1949 (in current state)
School type Public
Endowment $68 million CA$[1]
Parent endowment $1.539 billion CA$[2]
Dean Edward Iacobucci
Location Toronto, Canada
Enrollment 640[3]
Faculty 160

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law (U of T Law, UToronto Law) is the law school of the University of Toronto. Originally founded in 1887, the Faculty is one of the oldest law faculties in Canada, although it was not until 1958 that the faculty was officially recognized as an accredited institution by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Currently, the faculty offers the JD (formerly LLB), LLM, SJD, MSL, and GPLLM degrees in law. The Faculty has consistently been ranked as the top law school in Canada by Maclean's since it began to publish law school rankings in 2007.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Among its alumni are one Canadian Prime Minister, three leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada, three Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister, two Premiers of Ontario, two Mayors of Toronto, and seven Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada, including two of the nine currently-sitting Justices (Rosalie Abella, and Michael J. Moldaver) - more than any other law school. The deans of the top three ranked law schools in the country (Toronto, Osgoode Hall Law School, and Queen's) are all Toronto Law graduates. Additionally, the deans of Oxford Law Faculty (top-ranked in Britain), Columbia Law School, the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, and the University of Alberta Faculty of Law are all currently U of T Law alumni.[11]

The current Dean of the Faculty of Law (as of January 1, 2015) is Professor Edward Iacobucci, himself a U of T Law graduate from the LL.B. program.[12]


The University of Toronto Faculty of Law was established as a teaching faculty in 1887 pursuant to the University Federation Act,[13] which was proclaimed into force in 1889.[14] An earlier faculty of law had existed at King's College between 1843 and 1854, but was abolished by an Act of Parliament in 1853.[14]

The Faculty of Law was officially opened in 1889, with two part-time professors appointed at its inauguration - William Proudfoot and David Mills.[15] The Faculty awarded LL.B. degrees to graduates of its program. However, the Law Society of Upper Canada at the time refused to accept the University of Toronto Faculty of Law as an accredited law school, preferring instead to maintain control over the profession by establishing its own school, the Osgoode Hall Law School.[15] Thus, students who graduated from the Faculty were still required to complete a full three-year articling term and complete courses at Osgoode Hall in order to join the legal profession. As a result, the Faculty's enrollment numbers in the early years were relatively low.[15]
Joseph Flavelle House at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law

It was not until 1949 that the Faculty adopted its current form. In the 1940s, the Faculty played the leading role in making legal education in Ontario into a modern academic degree course, rather than an apprenticeship.

In 1949, Cecil (“Caesar”) Wright assumed the deanship of the Faculty of Law. He first had to resign his post as Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, the seat of the Law Society of Upper Canada, rejecting the Law Society's apprenticeship model of legal education in favour of the University of Toronto's vision of a full-time legal education, hinging on the professional bachelor of laws degree and embedded within a university. Wright brought with him his colleagues John Willis and Bora Laskin, the latter of whom would go on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Despite the Faculty of Law's academic program, the Law Society of Upper Canada refused to recognize it as a degree-granting institution for the purposes of accreditation. In the early 1950s, law students and their supporters petitioned the Law Society, and in 1953, a group of 50 student protesters marched on Osgoode Hall demanding formal recognition for the Faculty of Law. Finally, in 1958, after years of negotiation and discord, the Law Society began to give credit to graduates of the law school seeking admission to the Ontario bar.[16]

Reputation and admissions

University rankings
Global rankings
University of Toronto Faculty of Law
QS World[17] 21
Canadian rankings
Maclean's Common Law[18] 1
The University of Toronto Faculty of Law has consistently been rated as the top law school in Canada. The Faculty has held the number one spot in Maclean's law school rankings since it began to evaluate law schools in 2007.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] In 2011, the school was ranked 13th globally by the QS World University Rankings in the subject of law, along with a few select schools from US, UK, and Australia.[19] As of 2015, the Faculty is ranked 21st globally by QS, and remains top among Canadian law schools.[20]

As a result of its reputation, the Faculty of Law has the most selective admission criteria in Canada, and is one of the most selective in North America. The median undergraduate GPA of students accepted into the J.D. program is 85.5% (based on best 3 years) and the median Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score is 167 (95th percentile) based on highest score written.[21] It has an acceptance rate of 13.5% and a yield rate of 70.1%.[22] The Faculty features a 98% yield rate in the province of Ontario, representing about half of the country of Canada's English-language common-law population.[23]

Location and buildings

The Faculty of Law lies at the geographic centre of the University of Toronto in the downtown Toronto area. It is located at the corner of Queen's Park Crescent and Hoskin Avenue, south of the Royal Ontario Museum and slightly north of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Falconer Hall

Falconer Hall is home to many of the faculty's offices, including the Office of the Dean, and four seminar rooms. The third floor of Falconer Hall currently hosts the offices of most of the Faculty's scholars of law and economics, including one of the field's founders, Michael Trebilcock.

Flavelle House

File:University of toronto flavelle 2.JPG
The extension to Flavelle House which houses, amongst others, the Bora Laskin library, opened in 1991.

Flavelle House contains the faculty's principal classrooms, faculty and student common rooms, the Rosalie Silberman Abella Moot Court, as well as the Bora Laskin Law Library. The building was constructed in 1902 as the private residence of Sir Joseph Flavelle, and was left to the University of Toronto upon his death in 1939. It backs onto Philosopher's Walk (Toronto), which can be seen from many of the south and west-facing rooms.

Planned renovations

In 2011 the Faculty of Law launched a campaign to raise money for the renovation and expansion of Flavelle House, with a goal of raising $53 million.[24] The new building will be named the Jackman Law Building in honour of Henry N.R. "Hal" Jackman, who donated $11 million to the faculty's building campaign in 2012, the largest single gift the faculty has ever received.[25]

The renovations began in the summer of 2013 with construction expected last until at least 2015 and can be seen both from the corner of Queens Park and from Hoskin Street. During the construction, students at the faculty will attend classes at Victoria University's campus, across the street from Flavelle House.[26]

The completed Faculty of Law building will be composed of the conjoined Flavelle House, Laskin Pavilion, and Jackman Crescent, with the Queen's Park Forum connecting them all. It will be located at 78 Queen's Park facing onto the Legislative Building on Queen's Park and will have a view of downtown Toronto's skyline. It was originally planned to open in time for the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year, but has been delayed into the academic year due to permit issues with the city which have since been resolved.[27] The Faculty of Law building is situated across from Trinity College, Toronto, separated by Philosopher's Walk, formerly Taddle Creek. Its location was formerly home to Toronto's Industrial Age Millionaire's Row, with many of the buildings, previously serving as mansions, donated to the University of Toronto in the intervening century. It is next to the Faculty of Music and just south of the Royal Ontario Museum, formerly part of the University of Toronto.

Faculty members

The Faculty of Law has approximately 60 full-time faculty members, and about 640 undergraduate and graduate students, giving it a student-faculty ratio of approximately 10:1."[28] Its "Distinguished Visitors" program brings 15-25 short-term visiting professors from the world's leading law schools to teach at the school each year. For 2012-13, visiting professors included: Zhenmin Wang, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Tsinghua University; Aharon Barak, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel; and David M. Malone, former Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations.

Among the permanent faculty members are many who are regarded as the leading the scholars in their fields and who have also written many standard textbooks used by most students across Canada.[29] These include Stephen Waddams (Contract Law), Ernest Weinrib (Tort Law), Kent Roach (Criminal Law), Hamish Stewart (Evidence Law), Mohammad Fadel (Islamic Law), Colleen Flood (Health Law), Edward Iacobucci (Business Law), Ayelet Shachar (Immigration Law), Simon Stern (Innovation Law), Martin Friedland (Legal History), Arthur Ripstein (Legal Philosophy), and Michael Trebilcock (Legal Economics) to name a few.

Academic programs

Degrees granted

The Faculty of Law was the first law school in Canada to offer the Juris Doctor (JD) designation rather than the Bachelor of Laws (LLB). The JD designation is intended to reflect the fact that the vast majority of the law school’s graduates enter the law school with at least one university degree. (In fact, approximately one quarter enter with one or more graduate degrees.) The JD designation does not, however, reflect significant changes in the law school's curriculum. The move to the JD was controversial at the time it was announced, though it has now gained wide acceptance and has been emulated by almost all Canadian law schools.

The school also offers graduate LLM and SJD degrees for those already with JD degrees. For those without JD degrees interested in legal studies at the graduate level, there is the MSL.

JD program

The JD degree is the faculty's primary program with about 200 students in every class and 600 in total.

Combined JD programs

In addition to the regular JD program, the faculty offers the most combined law degrees in Canada. These include the JD/MBA (business), JD/MGA (diplomacy), JD/MPP (government), JD/MSW (social work), JD/MA (arts and science), and JD/PhD (arts and science), among others. While about one-fifth of the class currently is enrolled in a combined program, the most popular is the JD/MBA with an enrollment of over 20 students per year, making up over 10% of the overall JD class. Its combined JD/MBA program is the largest in Canada and possibly the world with students subsequently going into corporate law, consulting, and investment banking.

Legal clinics and internships

The Faculty of Law offers its students internship programs in pro bono work and international human rights law, and supports a range of legal clinics staffed by students as well as practitioners.

Tuition and financial aid

Tuition fees for entering Juris Doctor (J.D.) students as of 2014-2015 are $30,230.00 (program tuition fees) plus $1,305.96 (program incidental, ancillary, system fees), totaling $31,535.96.[30] Although the Faculty of Law has, by far, the highest tuition fees of any law school in Canada, it also has a generous financial aid program, with the average student who qualified for aid only paying $15,421 in tuition fees in their first year.[31]

All students who have eligible unmet need according to the financial aid policies will receive assistance in the form of bursaries and interest-free loans. The most controversial part of the faculty's financial aid program, which was initially designed by students and administration collaboratively, is that it uses a "deemed parental contribution" as part of determining a student's unmet need. There is no deemed parental contribution below an income threshold that is around the average Canadian household income. The deemed parental contribution phases out with the age of the student.

The Faculty of Law is the only law school in Canada with a back-end debt relief program for graduates who choose to pursue low income employment. The "back end debt relief program" is targeted to relieve debt with respect to financial aid/interest-free loans that are recognized by the faculty; most third-party debt (lines of credit; credit cards; mortgage debt) is not recognized and is not eligible for faculty support.

Grading system

The JD program uses a modified honours-pass-fail grading system, announced in 2011-2012 and implemented in 2012-2013. It followed[32] on Harvard Law School's[33] and Stanford Law School's[34] implementation announced in 2008-2009 and 2007-2008, respectively, of a modified pass-fail system first brought in place by Yale Law School decades before in the 1960s.[33][35] The grades awarded are High Honours (HH), Honours (H), Pass with Merit (P), Low Pass (LP) and Fail (F).[36] Toronto along with Harvard, Stanford, and Yale as well as UC Berkeley which has also had a similar system for decades, are the only law schools that use modified pass-fail systems in North America.[37] Students beginning law school prior to 2012 are grand-parented and continue to be graded under a modified letter grade system.[38] Students hoping to obtain 'honours' standing, indicating they finished in the top 10% of their class, can expect to require a mixture of High Honours (HH) and Honours (H) grades.[39]

Student organizations

Students manage a wide range of organizations and activities at the Faculty of Law. Activities include free legal clinics such as Downtown Legal Services, mooting, law journals, and interest oriented clubs. The umbrella organization for JD students at the Faculty of Law is the Students' Law Society. The umbrella organization for graduate students is the Graduate Students' Law Society. The student societies act as student governments, providing funding to student organizations and advocating on behalf of students to the faculty and administration.[40][41]

The four student-run law journals at the Faculty are:

Post-graduation employment

The Faculty has the highest employment rate and average starting salaries for legal graduates in the country, taking the largest proportion of positions at Bay Street Seven Sisters firms in Canada every year.[42] Over 95% of the school's JD graduates secure legal employment (as articling law students in Canada or licensed lawyers in jurisdictions where there is no apprenticeship such as the US) before graduation, the highest in the country.[43]

Notable alumni

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada

  • Bora Laskin (1936) - Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (1973–1984)[44]
  • John C. Major (1957) - Puisne Justice of Supreme Court of Canada (1992–2005), Commissioner for the Air India Inquiry
  • John Sopinka (1958) - Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court, (1988–1997)
  • Ian Binnie (1965) - Puisne Justice of Supreme Court of Canada, (1998–2011)
  • Louis LeBel (LLM 1966) - Puisne Justice of Supreme Court of Canada, (2000–Present)
  • Rosalie Silberman Abella (1970) - Puisne Justice of Supreme Court of Canada (2004–Present)
  • Michael J. Moldaver (1971) - Puisne Justice of Supreme Court of Canada (2011–Present)




  • Martin Friedland (1958) - professor of criminal law, author
  • Ernest Weinrib (1972) - professor and noted private law theorist
  • Robert Prichard (1975) - Dean of the Faculty of Law (1984–1990), President of the University of Toronto (1990–2000)
  • George Triantis (1983) - Harvard professor and specialist in corporate law
  • Patrick Macklem (1984) - professor and specialist in labour, indigenous, and constitutional law
  • Ronald J. Daniels (1986) - Dean of the Faculty of Law (1995–2005), Provost and Vice President, Academic of the University of Pennsylvania, and current President of Johns Hopkins University
  • Kent Roach (1987) - professor and specialist in criminal and constitutional law
  • Stephen Waddams (1967) - professor and noted private law theorist



  1. ^ University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Gifts that have Made a Difference, retrieved August 5, 2012 
  2. ^ Figure does not include separate endowment funds maintained by individual colleges. U of T Endowments - Annual Financial Reports (PDF), Financial Services Department, 2011 
  3. ^ LSAC - JD: Canadian Law School Profiles. 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  4. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2007
  5. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2008
  6. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2009
  7. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2010
  8. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2011
  9. ^ a b Maclean's Law School Ranking 2012
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ An Act Respecting the Federation of the University of Toronto and University College with Other Universities and Colleges, 50 Vict (1887), c 43 (Ont).
  14. ^ a b "U of T Chronology". Heritage U of T. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  15. ^ a b c Friedland, Martin (2002). The University of Toronto: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802044298. 
  16. ^ "Brief History of the Law School". University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  17. ^ "QS World University Rankings - 2014". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2014. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "2013 Common Law University Ranking". Maclean's. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015 - Law". Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  21. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 9 October 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Faculty of Law Building Campaign Fact Sheet". Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  25. ^ Ciccocioppo, Lucianna (October 1, 2012). "Henry N. R. Jackman’s $11M Campaign gift is the largest donation in the history of the Faculty of Law". University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Victoria Campus is the Law School's Temporary Home". Ultra Vires. October 17, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2012. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b
  34. ^
  35. ^ Kalman, Laura, Yale Law School and the Sixties: Revolt and Reverberations (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2005)
  36. ^ [2]
  37. ^
  38. ^ [3]
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^

External links

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