Feb. 7, 2019

New partnership improves access to justice in Alberta in both official languages

Certification in Common Law in French will allow graduates to serve French-speaking litigants
Adam Dodek, dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, left, and Ian Holloway, dean, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring the Certification in Common Law in French to UCalgary Law.

Adam Dodek and Ian Holloway signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

Mike Ridewood, for the Faculty of Law

Imagine being in a courtroom and being scared to exercise your rights because of potential delays, extra costs, or a perception that exercising them would annoy the intervenors in the judicial system? What if this meant not getting a fair hearing? This is unfortunately the situation for many Francophone litigants in Alberta who remain unaware of their rights to French language services or uncertain as to how to exercise those rights.

This is a situation UCalgary Law hopes to solve through a new certification program with the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.

The Certification in Common Law in French (CCLF) gives current law students with competencies in French the unique opportunity to obtain a certification in common law in French from the University of Ottawa during their three-year JD program at UCalgary.

“Not only does the CCLF increase the students’ access to work throughout Canada where knowledge of both official languages is an advantage or a necessity, it helps improve access to justice for French-speaking litigants,” says Prof. Caroline Magnan, director of the program.

From left: Ian Holloway, dean, UCalgary Law; Nickie Nikolaou, associate dean (academic), UCalgary Law; Adam Dodek, dean, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law; Caroline Magnan, director, CCLF; Alexandra Heine, third-year student, UCalgary Law.

From left: Ian Holloway, Nickie Nikolaou, Adam Dodek, Caroline Magnan, and Alexandra Heine.

The certification will give students an advantage when applying for prestigious clerkships with the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts, and the federal public service, and will allow graduates to provide legal services to the Francophone community, in the language to which they are legally entitled.

UCalgary Law is now the second law school in Canada to offer the certification. Students will also participate in a moot court event with teams from across the country, be paired with experienced mentors in the legal profession, and have the opportunity to learn from law firms, organizations and government agencies that work in French.

“We started offering two courses in common law in French a couple of years ago, and the response from our students was amazing,” says Dr. Ian Holloway, QC, dean of the law school. “We are very excited to start this partnership with the University of Ottawa and to give students the opportunity to enhance their future legal careers and their impact on the justice system across the country.”

Find out more about the program.