Helping Saskatchewan's Francophones study law

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Image of a courtroom with three judges presiding on a panel and the back of a lawyer wearing a black gown in the foreground.
Training in common law includes mooting competitions against teams from across Canada to help students practise presenting legal arguments. Photo: Bonnie Findley.
By Mila Roy

In light of its mission to promote bilingualism and strengthen Francophone communities, the University of Ottawa has recently partnered with Canadian law schools that wish to give their students an opportunity to study common law in French. As a result, this spring, the University of Saskatchewan will be giving its Francophone students a chance to enrol in uOttawa’s Certificate in Common Law in French (CCLF) program.

Caroline Magnan
Caroline Magnan.

This inter-university partnership is a collaborative effort involving many people, including CCLF Program Director Professor Caroline Magnan. The Gazette spoke to her about this innovative partnership.

Q: What does this inter-university partnership entail?

A: This partnership allows University of Saskatchewan law students to complete some of their courses in French, to take part in an exchange program at the University of Ottawa, and to participate in a mooting competition against teams from across Canada. Thanks to support from the Association communautaire fransaskoise, which represents Saskatchewan’s Francophone communities, and the Association des juristes d’expression française de la Saskatchewan, which represents Francophone legal professionals in Saskatchewan, these students will be mentored by experienced legal professionals and will be assigned to credited placements in law firms, legal organizations and government legal offices that provide services in French in Saskatchewan.

Q: What type of training will students enrolled in the CCLF program receive?

A: The CCLF program allows students to contextually acquire French common law terminology in various courses, deepen their knowledge of language rights, and improve their ability to draft legal arguments in French. The program gives participants the tools they need to provide legal services in both official languages, along with a professional designation that will benefit them throughout their careers.

Q: Why establish a partnership between law schools?

A: In March 2009, Justice Canada published an analysis that concluded that the current training given to lawyers should be improved and that “the country's law schools should consider offering courses specifically in the practice of law in both official languages.” The authors of the analysis added that “partnerships between law schools would seem entirely appropriate in the circumstances.” The CCLF program is a direct response to this recommendation.

The CCLF program aims to meet the needs of an increasing number of French-speaking young Canadians enrolled in Anglophone law schools, and to counter a situation in which French-speaking common law graduates hesitate to provide services in French because they are unfamiliar with the terminology of common law in that language.

Q: What role do you play?

A: September 2015, as Director of the CCLF program, I have worked with the dynamic team at the French Common Law Program to design the content and structure of the CCLF program. I have been establishing partnerships with Anglophone law faculties in western Canada and with many community-based stakeholders in several provinces.

Q: What is the purpose of the CCLF program?

A: The CCLF program aims to improve access to justice in Canada’s two official languages and to promote the use of common law services in French by increasing the number of legal professionals throughout Canada who can provide such services.

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