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The Calgary Curriculum

The Calgary Curriculum

"Our duty is to prepare students for the profession they’re joining, not the one we joined.
And no question, their profession is going to look different from ours."

-Ian Holloway, QC, dean of the Faculty of Law

The Calgary Curriculum places University of Calgary’s Faculty R-Sevalurd_CalgaryCurriculum of Law at the forefront of innovation in North American legal education. Built with input from students, alumni and industry, our new curriculum is rigorous, it is relevant, and it will more realistically connect how we teach with how you (our students) learn. It will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need for future professional success.

Launched in September 2015, the Calgary Curriculum will:

  • Give you a deep understanding of the law and legal principles, along with the ability to apply your learning to real-world situations.
  • Embrace the concept of performance-based learning, using real-life situations (actual or simulated) to deepen your learning of legal principles and to translate that learning into practical concepts and applications.
  • Prepare you to join a constantly changing and challenging legal services market, and for professional opportunities that extend beyond traditional legal practice.

UCalgary Law knows that you likely will not just have one career following graduation; you will have several. Changes to our curriculum will increase student engagement and preparedness for the complex professional world you will enter after graduation.

The Calgary Curriculum is built on the concept of "Excellence in Lawyering," which requires strong substantive competence - knowledge and understanding of the concepts, methods, analysis, reasoning and critical perspectives in and about the law, as well as performance - the ability to translate knowledge into action. Changes to our curriculum will allow you to use what you know, and to learn the aspects of performance that are distinct from competence.

Watch the video

UCalgary Law dean, Ian Holloway, is an advocate for innovation in legal education
and the legal profession, and contributes regularly to Canadian Lawyer 4Students.
Read his columns below.
December 16, 2016 Sink or swim: The academy and the bar in Canada must move forward together
October 10, 2016 Killing the LPP and resistance to innovation
August 8, 2016 The new Calgary Curriculum: what we've done
May 30, 2016 Oops, I did it again!
April 11, 2016 Incentivization and change in legal education
February 15, 2016 Of lawyers, law schools, and the keeping of gates
December 14, 2015 Of theory, skills and false dichotomies
October 19, 2015 Legal education and the tyranny of provincialism
August 17, 2015 What we can learn from other professions
April 20, 2015 How to teach students to think like a lawyer (or maybe not)
February 16, 2015 What we know about legal education

Overview of changes

New semester breakdown

The breakdown of semesters will be as follows:

  • Fall semester - 13 weeks (3 + 10 for 1Ls)
  • January semester (NEW for all) - 3 weeks
  • Winter semester - 10 weeks (late January to March)

First-year JD

  • (September) Intensive three-week course "Foundations in Law and Justice I" will cover introductory legal concepts, reading and briefing cases and interpreting statutes, critical perspectives on law through topical/current "cases," and the role of lawyers in a system of laws and in society.
  • (January) "Foundations in Law and Justice II" will cover introductory skills in legal research, writing and advocacy, and will include drafting and a writing/advocacy assignment.
  • Legislation (Law 403, Fall term) will focus on drafting and interpreting legislation. This course will be taught through performance-based learning, and will involve multiple forms of assessment.
  • Throughout the remainder of your first year, you will study core substantive law courses, including Property, Torts, Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Crime: Law and Procedure. (Course descriptions available here)
  • The focus in 1L will continue to be on substantive competence, but a shorter term with longer class times will encourage innovation and engagement in the classroom.

Second- and Third-year JD

  • Most current required and optional courses will continue to be offered. (Course listings available here)
  • You will be required to choose from a basket of courses focusing on legal theory or other perspectives on the law.
  • You will no longer be required to take Advanced Legal Research. Instead, the Upper-Year Writing Requirement, will require performance and documentation of student research.
  • To supplement current clinical/practice-oriented courses, optional performance-oriented courses will be added, such as legal practice and technology, legal project management, and leadership.
  • Over time, you will be able to choose between courses taught with traditional methods or using performance-based learning methods (selected courses), which can be highlighted in student portfolios.
  • Core required courses, specifically Civil Procedure and Ethical Lawyering, will be taught through performance-based evaluation.

For a more comprehensive overview of the changes, read "What Makes a Law School Great?" by Alice Woolley, professor and Associate Dean (Academic).

Read about our third-year Advocacy block course, by instructor Lisa Silver.

Student questions should be directed to:
Angela Gallo-Dewar
Director, Academic and Student Services
agallode@ucalgary.ca
403.220.6154