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JD Statement of Competencies

Statement of Competencies

We expect our students to develop the following competencies during their three years of legal education. The list below recognizes that the majority of students expect to practice law and will do so for a least part of their careers, but is also based on the assumption that students who do not intend to practice should also develop these competencies.

(Updated November 2014)

1. Substantive legal knowledge

All law graduates should understand:

  • the principles and jurisprudence of foundational doctrinal areas of law (e.g., torts, contracts, constitutional, property, criminal and administrative law)
  • the principles underlying common law and equity
  • the sources of law, including the branches of government
  • the role of legislation in the common law system

2. The context of law

All law graduates should appreciate:

  • a variety of perspectives on law, including theoretical, historical and comparative perspectives
  • the implications of international, multidisciplinary and technological innovations for law and legal practice
  • the role of policy and its intersection with law
  • problems of accessing justice and the role of lawyers in ameliorating those problems

3. Legal research

All law graduates should be able to:

  • develop a coherent research strategy
  • identify and assess sources of legal and non-legal information appropriate to the particular issue(s) or problem(s)

4. Legal analysis and reasoning

All law graduates should have the skills necessary to:

  • develop legal arguments and provide legal opinions, including the ability to interpret and apply statutes and case law
  • identify, investigate and evaluate a problem, both factually and legally
  • place a problem within an appropriate context
  • understand the relationship between different normative orderings, such as the relationship between international and domestic law methods
  • critique their own legal reasoning and that of others from substantive, normative and procedural perspectives

5. Legal communication

All law graduates should have the skills necessary for:

  • counselling and advising, including the ability to ascertain the client's needs, wishes and risks, provide options to the client, and help the client to select the appropriate option
  • effective negotiation, advocacy and collaboration
  • clear and accurate communication in a format appropriate to its purpose
  • drafting formal documents
  • evaluating communication to assess its effectiveness and impact
  • teamwork, collaboration and other effective interpersonal interaction

6. Dispute resolution skills

All law graduates should have the following skills:

  • drafting and transactional skills relevant to the prevention of disputes
  • familiarity with the characteristics and procedures of available forms of dispute resolution
  • the understanding necessary to recommend appropriate form(s) of dispute resolution, whether consensus or adjudicative, for particular settings and specific conflicts

7. Ethics

All law graduates should have developed a critical understanding of:

  • the normative foundations of the lawyer's role
  • the scope and limits of the lawyer's role
  • the law governing lawyers and legal practice
  • ethical dilemmas and how to identify and resolve them