University College of the North (UCN) is adding in a new program for next fall - pre-law courses, designed specifically to produce more qualified lawyers in the north.
The school will begin offering the courses in Sept. 2024, part of a curriculum to help prepare northern Manitoba students to enter law school. The courses will be available at UCN’s campuses in The Pas and Thompson and will be offered as part of the school’s bachelor of arts program.
Representatives of the college say the new programs have been developed in partnership with the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, the Northern Bar Association, Law Society of Manitoba and Legal Aid Manitoba, along with provincial court judge Todd Rambow, a long-time Crown attorney in The Pas and currently a judge based in Thompson.
“The legal community in Manitoba has come together to extend legal education training in northern Manitoba,” said Rambow in a UCN-issued release.
“We are delighted that pre-law coursework will be available to help ensure that the north is served by competent, capable and qualified lawyers who are from the north.”
“UCN is responding to the pressing need for lawyers in northern Manitoba who live in the north and understand the life circumstances of northern and Indigenous Manitobans,” said UCN president and vice-chancellor Doug Lauvstad.
“Providing students with opportunities to complete pre-law in northern Manitoba will help address shortages in the legal profession in the north.”
While the courses will be available in a pair of northern centres, no plans have been announced to extend the classes to Flin Flon, though students may be able to sign up for courses with online sections outside the two main campuses.
“Students outside of the two main campuses can register for courses that have online sections. This would be a few courses, but not all, as some courses run face-to-face,” said UCN dean of arts, business and science Kim Laycock.
“For regional centre cohorts such as Flin Flon, the ability to offer this program will depend on space and staffing.”
The program will not be able to issue a full law degree - only one location in Manitoba, the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law program, issues law degrees and offers juris doctor, master of laws and master of human rights degrees. Once a student has taken pre-law courses at UCN, they would have to apply to other law schools to continue their studies.