A FLEX TIME JD: NEW APPROACHES TO THE ACCESSIBILITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION
Keywords: Law Schools, Legal Education, Access to Justice, Accessibility, CBA Legal Futures, “Transforming Legal Education and Training in Cana, Social Justice
AbstractThis article examines accessibility and inclusion in legal education. Responding to the Canadian Bar Association’s call for accessible and innovative legal education in the Futures Report, this study explores the possibilities (and limits) of a Flex Time Juris Doctor (“JD”) program and how such a program might foster further diverse and inclusive learning community for law students. The article situates the debate around more flexible forms of legal education in historical context, highlighting the role part-time legal studies has played in facilitating the entry of outsider groups into the legal profession. While there is not a mid-sized city in the US without part-time law school programs, intentionally designed to accommodate flexible legal education, Canada’s law schools remain premised on full time JD studies. A Flex Time JD responds to a variety of the challenges now facing Canadian legal education, from financial accessibility at a time of significantly rising tuition and law student debt, to the integration of technology enhanced pedagogy. Drawing on the research gathered in Osgoode Hall Law School’s Accessible JD Working Group over the last two years, including surveys of prospective law students, the article canvasses the potential features of a Flex Time legal education program, and barriers to its implementation. The authors conclude that if a Flex Time JD model has the capacity to meet the diversity, family status, ability and financial needs of present and future lawyers, then it has the potential to enhance both the accessibility and quality of legal education.
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