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Can Ryerson’s new law school handle the competition?

By Madison Henry 

Students who are looking to go to law school after their undergrad might not have to go far, with Ryerson’s own law school opening in September 2020. However, competing against existing schools may be the biggest problem that Ryerson is going to have to face. Some students may want to go to universities with programs that have been around for longer and already have a good reputation among law firms in Toronto.

Ryerson says that their law school will be focused on technology, access to justice, and social innovation. The four pillars of their law school are: increasing access to justice for Ontarians and Canadians; innovation and entrepreneurship; equity, division and inclusion; and sound academic grounding with innovative pedagogy.

Hersh Perlis who is the Director of Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone, said that it will give students an edge in a way that no other law school can.

“Some schools offer electives but at Ryerson my hope is that since this is the type of learning that comes naturally to us that these business, technology and entrepreneurial teaching will not only be separate courses but will be engrained in every class that is taught whether it is tort or criminal or part of an innovation bootcamp,” he said.

Perlis also spoke about the different types of courses that will attract potential students to Ryerson including coding bootcamps and workshops.

“Every small/solo, mid and large law firm is trying to find their way in this ever changing legal landscape – the list of law firms and lawyers we meet at the Legal Innovation Zone interested in learning about the new technologies or how they can keep their competitive advantage is endless,” he said.

Lorne Sossin, the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School says that Osgoode students are also given credit for working on real cases in the schools clinics that focus on a number of different areas. The school also partners heavily with other law organizations.

“Many of these programs are offered in collaboration with community partners such as the Anti-Discrimination Intensive offered in collaboration with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, or the recently launched Investor Protection Clinic offered in collaboration with FAIR Canada,” he said.

When planning the curriculum for the new law school, Ryerson will have to establish new relationships with organizations in order to give their students real world experience and connections with industry professionals, to compete with other law schools.

Despite this, Perlis does not think that competition among law schools will be a problem.

“Ryerson’s law school will not look or feel like any other law school in Canada or any other one I have come across in my travels,” he said.

“This law school will tie together a need to understand 21st century business processes and operations while also ensuring their graduates will be comfortable with technology and aware of how it is being used in the legal sector.”

Ryerson plans to start its law school with 150 students in September 2020, and those first students will get to go to a law school with a different approach to education than any other law school in Canada, as well as a school that is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

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