Canada: Ryerson Law School: Contributing To A Lawyer Glut, Or Opening The Door To Accessible Justice?

Last Updated: July 12 2018
Article by Eden Kaill

Ontario may soon have a new option for those wanting to become lawyers without ending up in unmanageable amounts of debt.

Background: Ryerson University's proposed law school was preliminarily approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada at the end of 2017, and a majority of the Law Society of Ontario ("LSO") benchers approved the proposal in February 2018. The LSO's formal approval means that individuals holding a Ryerson law degree will be permitted to apply for LSO membership.

The final steps to becoming a fully-accredited law school are to complete internal approvals within the university, and ultimately to be approved by the Ontario provincial government.

Arguments in favour: Ryerson's dean of record for the proposed program, Anver Saloojee, told Ryerson Today that the aim of the school is to provide practical training as lawyers, with a focus on issues like equity, diversity and inclusion, access to justice, indigenous law, and technology. Saloojee says the school wants to graduate lawyers who are immediately ready for practice.

Proponents of the school say it is needed because other law schools have become unaffordable, which ultimately impacts access to justice when young lawyers aren't in a financial position to take on anything but high-paying work. In the Lawyers Daily, LSO bencher Julian Falconer notes that "We don't encourage law graduates any more to take up less paying, but more socially important work. We're actually doing the opposite. We're creating incentives where they can't do that work."

Access to justice both in Ontario and across Canada is a crucial issue. Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Bar Association reports that the vast majority of unrepresented litigants (who are up to 80% of litigants depending on the type of case) would prefer to have a lawyer. The LSO reports that for individuals in Ontario who choose not to pursue legal action, a significant proportion have made the choice because they can't afford to hire a lawyer.

With tuition currently planned to be within the range of $20,000 a year, the Ryerson program will fall on the lower end of Ontario law school fees. Because it is located in downtown Toronto, it could be seen as an affordable alternative to the University of Toronto's yearly tuition of approximately $35,000, and will also fall below Osgoode Hall's yearly tuition of approximately $27,000. The theory is that new lawyers who want to use their legal skills to help those who can't afford Bay Street legal fees will be more likely to do so if they don't have six figures in law school debt hanging over their heads.

Arguments against: That theory is all well and good, say some lawyers who spoke to Canadian Lawyer Magazine, but it only works if Ryerson graduates can find any jobs at all, given the lack of articling positions available to the graduates of existing law schools. The LSO reported in May 2018 that only ten percent of Ontario law firms offer articling positions at all, characterizing the situation not as a temporary blip, but rather "...a permanent shortage of articling positions."

Ryerson itself, in conjunction with the University of Ottawa, is trying to alleviate that problem through the Law Practice Program ("LPP"), which could be seen as contradictory to opening a law school that would add more lawyers to an already swollen market.

There is also a concern that, as has plagued the LPP program to some degree, there will be a stigma placed on Ryerson law graduates as being second-tier to the established Ontario law schools. Michelle Cook wrote for

"... (the) Ryerson letter looks at this project as a "success" that shows that the university should expand their foothold in the legal market. What Ryerson fails to mention in its letter is that this program remains highly stigmatized by law school graduates and those in the legal profession"

The worry is that in addition to being new lawyers in an already intensely competitive job market, Ryerson law graduates would face the additional challenge of potential employers wondering why they couldn't get into a different school.

The Takeaway: The argument against having a new Ontario law school is essentially that the province doesn't need any more lawyers, and certainly doesn't need more new lawyers than there are entry-level law jobs. Whether that argument is valid depends on what those lawyers ultimately end up focusing their practices on. If the Ryerson program produces socially conscious, practically-trained graduates who are willing to bend expectations of what a new lawyer does, and who aren't interested in competing for lucrative Bay Street jobs, Ontario will end up with more people with legal training to help those who need it the most. That hardly seems like a problem.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions