UBC Receives $6 Million to Benefit Legal Education and Community Access to Justice

University of British Columbia President Stephen J. Toope today announced a $6 million grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia to benefit public access to justice and student learning in B.C.

“The pivotal nature of the Law Foundation’s contribution cannot be underestimated,” says Toope. “The impact on UBC Law Faculty’s ability to contribute to the needs of our society will be profound.”

The $6 million grant will contribute to a new building to house the UBC Faculty of Law, the UBC Law Library, the Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and the British Columbia Law Institute — a public resource that focuses on law reform — and support for other UBC Law faculty and student-led initiatives. It adds to existing Law Foundation contributions toward legal research, student programs, and student bursaries and scholarships at the Faculty of Law.

The Law Foundation commitment extends the support it already provides to community clinical programs delivered through the Faculty of Law, among them the First Nations Legal Aid Clinic and the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP). A volunteer program, LSLAP is the largest provider of free legal advice to low-income clients in the province. In Greater Vancouver alone, LSLAP serves 5,000 clients each year through community clinics.

“The Law Foundation and UBC Faculty of Law strive for the same core ideals of justice and the rule of law,” says Warren Wilson, QC, Chair, Law Foundation of B.C. “We’re proud to support UBC law initiatives, programs and activities since they promote all five of the program objectives of the Foundation: legal education, legal research, legal aid, law reform and law libraries.”

“UBC aspires to be one of the world’s best law schools and this investment will provide the resources necessary to foster excellence in the Law Faculty for future generations of law students,” says Dean of Law Mary Anne Bobinski.

Along with UBC, the Law Foundation is committed to preparing new practitioners who can assume leadership roles in the areas of public interest, advocacy and legal aid. The proposed building will enhance the Faculty of Law’s capacity to provide the highest calibre of legal education, conduct further legal research and foster scholarship related to legal reform. It will also result in the creation of a new law library that will benefit all of B.C.

The new building will provide space for more than 60 full-time faculty members and 600 undergraduate and 100 graduate students. It will replace the existing Faculty of Law building, which has moisture and ventilation problems along with deficiencies in classroom space and limited wheelchair accessibility. The future building will provide a mix of classrooms and large lecture halls along with a new UBC Law Library serving as a vital academic hub for students and the legal community.

The Law Foundation grant adds to the existing $1 million gift presented last fall by Farris Vaughn Wills and Murphy LLP to kick off the Faculty of Law’s building campaign. In order for a new building to be realized, UBC will be working with individuals, law firms and other foundations
to secure the required matching donations to exceed the Law Foundation grant.

The new building will:

  • House a state-of-the-art law library for the benefit of the entire province, the Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and the British Columbia Law Institute
  • Increase space allocated to clinical programs by nearly 52 per cent
  • Improve the Faculty’s ability to support legal aid work by providing central, prominent and publicly accessible office space for students who are involved in legal aid and by creating a suitable place for them to meet clients
  • Increase classroom and moot court space by almost 20 per cent, with updated room sizes, configuration and technology to support electronic communications and audio visual requirements such as teleconferencing
  • Provide a welcoming and inviting facility for the public, particularly access for people with disabilities.
  • Increase overall research space by 50-80 per cent so the Faculty can physically integrate visiting scholars and foster collaborative and innovative research among faculty


UBC Faculty of Law

One of Canada’s preeminent law schools, UBC Faculty of Law has a 60-year history of educating leaders in the legal profession and society. UBC Law alumni include the Right Honourable Kim Campbell; Thomas Berger, a former Supreme Court Justice; the Honourable Frank Iacobucci; the Honourable Michael Harcourt; the Honourable Wally Oppal; and MPs Stephen Owen and Ujjal Dosanjh. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Allan McEachern, UBC Chancellor and former Chief Justice of the B.C. Court of Appeal, have both taught at the UBC Law School.

UBC Faculty of Law provides its 700-plus students the broadest array of courses offered in Canada, among them theoretical and critical perspectives on the law, advocacy, alternative dispute resolution, legal research and writing, problem solving and ethics. Faculty members have won national and international recognition for their cutting-edge research and for advancing knowledge in issues as diverse as the environment, First Nations rights, intellectual property, corporate governance and feminist legal studies. For more information visit: www.law.ubc.ca.

UBC Law Building

A 1995 assessment of the current Faculty of Law building revealed moisture and ventilation problems in addition to outmoded teaching spaces, serious deficiencies in classroom design and space, and limited wheelchair accessibility. A cost analysis showed that renovating and rebuilding the existing building is uneconomical given its concrete structure and flaws in the heating and ventilation system.

The Law Foundation of B.C.

Law Foundation of B.C. is a non-profit foundation that focuses on programs that benefit the general public of British Columbia in five specific areas of: legal education; legal research; legal aid; law reform; and law libraries.

The Law Foundation was created in1969 when B.C. lawyers persuaded the provincial government to change the laws governing how financial institutions handle clients’ pooled trust accounts. The legislation permits the Law Foundation to receive and distribute the interest on clients’ funds held in lawyers’ pooled trust accounts.

Previously, financial institutions paid no interest on these accounts — although the total funds may have been substantial — because the amount of interest owed each client was generally small and difficult to ascertain. As a result, financial institutions profited from the use of the funds in the pooled trust accounts without charge.
In 2005, the Law Foundation committed $17 million to B.C. programs that advance and promote the rule of law and a just society, recognizing the diversity of this province’s population and workforce. From its inception through 2005, the Law Foundation has approved grants totaling more than $298 million.

For more information, visit: www.lawfoundationbc.org.

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