N.B. law society council gets it right

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Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely

Kudos to the New Brunswick Law Society Council. They have gotten it right in regard to Trinity Western University, unlike their Nova Scotia counterparts.

Trinity Western is a evangelical Christian university in British Columbia which intends to offer a faculty of law beginning in 2016. All members of the community, faculty, staff, and students are required to sign a covenant of behaviour, which the university website describes as a “solemn pledge which members place themselves under.”

One controversial section of that covenant says community members “voluntarily abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The Nova Scotia Law Society has found that section to be discriminatory and has refused to accept TWU graduates until the section is removed or amended.

The university's curriculum has already been accepted by the appropriate provincial bodies and the Federation of Law Societies of  Canada has also determined TWU graduates should be admitted at bar. Yet several provincial societies are refusing to accept their graduates.

The New Brunswick Law Society recently made its decision, which I find is a very well reasoned, responsible position. The New Brunswick Society will accept TWU graduates saying that “regardless of what law school students attend, all articled students must complete law society training and evaluation which includes the core aspects of professional responsibility including non-discrimination.” 

In other words, it doesn't matter what covenant you might have agreed to at law school, or what your personal views might be, upon admission to the New Brunswick bar you are under its code of conduct which forbids discrimination

The New Brunswick decision recognizes the right of the university to implement its own code of conduct on students and other university personnel. But it also reaffirms the conduct it expects of all who seek to practise law in that province. 

It is a fair and reasonable decision.


Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.



Organizations: Trinity Western University, Christian university, New Brunswick Society Springhill Area Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia Canada

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