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Under the 1849 University Act, which established the University of Toronto, the new institution was to have professional teaching faculties of medicine and law. A subsequent Act, in 1853, eliminated teaching in both fields, although the University retained responsibility for examination and degree-granting. The Faculty of Law (or Teaching Faculty in Law) at the University of Toronto was re-established 1889, almost three and a half decades afterwards. The new establishment followed on the 1887 University Act, which had in its turn envisioned some form of collaboration with the Law Society of Upper Canada, which until this time had been the sole, if rather academically unsatisfactory, purveyor of legal education (in the form principally of extended articling) – as well as being the professional body controlling admission to practice within the province. A University/Law Society committee was struck to consider the matter, and what looked for a moment like a promising potential accommodation broke down under the combined pressures of concerns within the profession, and competition among the universities. (In the midst of this, as well, was a basic philosophical disagreement on the best pedagogical approach for legal education – as between academic study and practical training.   Another committee internal to the Law Society recommended, successfully, that the Society maintain responsibility for formal legal education. Approval of this recommendation resulted in the establishment of  Osgoode Hall Law School in January 1889. Later in the same month (January 10th), a provincial Order-in-Council authorized the establishment of the Teaching Faculty at the University itself. Two part-time professors were named by the government: Justice William Proudfoot and David Mills, the former focusing on Roman Law and English Legal History; the latter in constitutional and international law. After Mills and Proudfoot left, in 1897 and 1900, the government in turn appointed A.H.F. Lefroy, who remained until his death in 1919; and James McGregor Young, who remained until 1913. In subswequent years the Faculty experimented – rather unsuccessfully – with a scheme of 'honorary lecturers' to provide access to the best practising professionals. But despite even the encouragements of the 1906 Royal Commission, the Law Society resisted overtures encouraging collaboration with the Faculty or surrendering some of its monopoly on professional training; and accordingly, the University of Toronto's program remained a comparatively small one for another half century, until in 1957, agreement was finally reached to have its work credited toward the requirements for professional licencing. 


From 1927 until 1949, study in law comprised a four-year Honours Bachelor of Arts. Martin Friedland has described the program as "an English-type undergraduate program....But it was an undergraduate program, not a professional law school."  (p.438/9) It began as special program in the department of political economy that was expanded gradually by W.P.M. Kennedy into a separate department under the aegis of political economy, in 1930; and finally an independent Scool of Law within the faculty of arts in 1941. One of the program's greatest obstacles was the intransigent insistence of the Law Society that the University graduates would be required to enter Osgoode Hall Law School at the first year level. With the move to the Faculty in 1949 of C.A. Wright, Bora Laskin, and John Willis from Osgoode Hall Law School, a new second-level entry, three-year LLB program, on the Harvard model, was introduced. But that program, like the one before it, continued to be ignored, for purposes of licencing credit, by the Law Society. By the mid-fifties, however, the propspect of overwhelming student numbers persuaded the Society to treat with the universities (Queen's was by now wishing its own school); the same pressure put the universities in a position to demand a reasonable accommodation. Accordingly, an arrangement was arrived at whereby admission to practice could follow a three-year program, a year of articling, and a six-month practical bar examination course. The LLB degree nomenclature was subsequently changed to JD (Juris Doctor), to reflect internationall patterns in legal education. The University of Toronto was the first Caanadian institution to take this once controversial step..

Fields of Specialization

. corporate law

. international law

. law and economics

. legal theory

Focus Areas

  Aboriginal Law

  Business Law

  Constitutional Law

  Environmental Law

  Health Law and Policy

  International Law and Policy

  Law and Literature

  Law and Philosophy

  Public Interest and Diversity

  Women, Law, and Social Change


  Health Law and Policy Program

  International Human Rights Program

  International Trained Lawyers Program (ITLP)

  LAWS (Law in Action Within Schools)

  Women's Human Rights Resources

  International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program

  Law and Economics Program

  The June Callwood Program in Aboriginal Law

 Centres and Institutes

  David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights

  Centre for the Legal Profession

  Centre for Innovation Law and Policy

  Capital Markets Institute

  Institute in Executive Legal Education

Deans of the Faculty of Law

W.P.M. Kennedy (1944-1949)

Cecil Augustus ('Caesar') Wright (1949-1965)

Ronald St John Macdonald (1965-1972)

Martin Friedland (1972-1979)

Frank Iacobucci (1979-1983)

J. Robert S. Prichard (1984-1990)

Robert Sharpe (1990-1995)

Ronald J. Daniels (1995-2005)

Mayo Moran (2006-    )

 Alumni Network


Rosalie Silberman Abella

Ian Binnie

Tony Clement

Kent Roach

Ronald J. Daniels

Charles Dubin

Lyman Duff

Jerry Grafstein

Bill Graham

Moffatt Hancock

William Howland

Karl Jaffary

Bora Laskin

William Lyon Mackenzie King

Patrick Macklem

John C. Major

Clara Brett Martin

G. Arthur Martin

Paul Martin

David Miller

David Peterson

Robert Prichard

Bob Rae

J.J. Robinette

Sydney Robins

Clayton Ruby

John Sewell

David Shore

Stephen Stohn

George Triantis

Ernest Weinrib


The initial Faculty degree was the LLB, followed by introduction of the LLM in 1903.

Articling/Licencing Program


Cumberland House (St George Street)

Falconer Hall

Flavelle House (from 1962)

Glendon Hall (estate of E.R. Wood)

Student Activities

. free legal clinics (including Downtown Legal Services

                                         Pro Bono Students Canada

. Moot courts

. law journals

     . University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review

     . Journal of International Law and International Relations

     . Journal of Law and Equality

     . Indigenous Law Journal

. newspapers

     . Ultra Vires

National Professional Organizations 

  Council of Canadian Law Deans (CCLD)

  Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT)

  Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)

Cole, Curtis. ‘A Hand to Shake the Tree of Knowledge: Legal Education in Ontario, 1871-1889.’ Interchange, Autumn 1986.

Kyer, C. Ian and Jerome E. Bickenbach, The fiercest debate: Cecil Wright, the benchers, and legal education in Ontario. Toronto: Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 1987

Students’ Law Society

Faculty of Law

Research Centres