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U of C partners with TRU for new law program

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Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops is starting up a new law program with guidance from the University of Calgary. The partnership between the schools will make sure the program gets under way successfully.

Throughout the partnership, the U of C will be licensing their curriculum to TRU and will help them adapt it to their needs, recognizing differences with British Columbia's law.

They will also offer a joint law degree, where TRU students can take online classes through the U of C or take senior or spring session courses in Calgary.

"We've worked, for example, with the University of British Colombia in offering a joint degree for programs that we didn't have a lot of experience [with]," said TRU general counsel John Sparks. "Over a period of time, we develop our own expertise internally and, when we're ready, then move to offering our own degree."

TRU will hold their first law class in 2011 with a planned minimum of 40 students per year.

They also hope to hire 10 to 12 full-time faculty members along with sessionals.

"Contrary to what you might have heard, there really is a shortage of lawyers, especially in smaller towns and rural regions," said Sparks.

The TRU program aims at training lawyers in smaller communities like Kamloops so that they stay and practice in the communities. The university hopes that the lawyers they graduate will serve the British Columbia interior and Alberta.

U of C faculty of law dean Alistair Lucas said that U of C is a good fit with Thompson Rivers because the law faculty's specializes in natural resource and environmental law. Since the B.C. interior has a largely resourced-based and agricultural economy, this should fit well with the goals of the TRU law program, according to TRU's website.

The site pointed to a great demand for graduate spaces as a driving force behind the program. Last year, 1,683 students applied for 208 spots at the UBC's law school.

"It is an extension of what we do here," Lucas said. "In a way we'll have a dozen or so law professors there who will be appointed, who will be teaching our curriculum, whose research will be at least related to the research that the faculty members are doing here."

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