First Year

Our foundation first-year program ensures a solid grounding in the core areas of Canadian common law and development of relevant legal research, writing and reasoning skills.

Course Descriptions

Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community

This course provides an introduction to the legal profession, professional norms and values, and the ethical issues that lawyers grapple with not only in the context of their many and varied roles, but also as members of a profession with collective responsibilities in relation to the public interest and access to justice.  The course situates these issues within their modern-day context; that is, within a context characterized by local diverse communities, globalization, legal pluralism, transnationalism and internationalization.

Legal Process I and II

These two integrated courses cover legal research and writing (Legal Process I – in the fall term) and civil procedure (Legal Process II – in the winter term) and are designed to (1) encourage students to consider lawyers’ professional and ethical responsibilities; (2) assist students to develop ways of thinking about legal problems that will be applied both during and after law school; and (3) assist students to understand and critically assess various dispute resolution mechanisms. Students will examine the core legal principles of fairness, due process and accountability in decision-making, which form the foundation of Canadian administrative law and civil procedure.

Public and Constitutional Law

This course provides an introduction to the basic principles of Canadian constitutional law, focussing on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Aboriginal Rights, the division of powers between the Federal and Provincial governments and between the individual and the collective. The course examines the nature, sources and role of public and administrative law in Canada, including the  scope of the regulatory state (boards, tribunals, agencies), and the role of the legislature, executive and judiciary and the common law constraints on executive action. Students will examine the evolving nature of state regulation, the relationship between domestic and international law, and the distinct features of common law decision-making, statutory interpretation and constitutional interpretation.


This course provides an introduction to the law of contracts. The course examines the structure, principles, policies and doctrines of the law of contracts. Topics considered include institutions of contract law; formation of contracts; enforcement of promises; contracts and third parties; protection of weaker parties; misrepresentation; contractual terms; breach of contract; standard form contracts and exclusion clauses; and contractual remedies.

Criminal Law

This course is designed to introduce students to the main doctrinal elements of Canadian criminal law.  Students will develop methodological skills and techniques of legal analysis, which includes an introduction to the Criminal Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the interpretation of statutory and constitutional materials. The course also involves critical discussion and debate on broader policy questions of criminal responsibility.


This course introduces students to the fundamental doctrines of tort law, including the tort of negligence, intentional torts and strict liability.  It will also examine the tort remedies available to compensate for personal injuries and property damage and will explore various jurisprudential perspectives on tort law.

Property Law

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts of real and personal property law in Canada.  It explores the concepts of ownership and possession, what sets of property rights exist in what kinds of assets, and how these can be created, transferred, shared and extinguished.

Elective Course Descriptions

In addition to the mandatory courses listed above, every first-year student must successfully complete one of the following elective courses:

Legal Theory Seminar

This course explores the historical transition from a community-based conception of law and rights to a conception of universal human rights grounded in a body of law that transcends the limits of particular communities and states.  The course considers a variety of readings drawn from such disciplines as history, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, political science and law.  The seminar functions as a small, tutorial-style reading group and emphasizes critical engagement with texts, intensive faculty-student interaction, and the development of strong analytical and critical thinking skills.

Perspective Option

Students have an opportunity to choose from among a variety of seminars offered that go beyond purely doctrinal analysis to focus in a sustained way on critical and contextualized perspectives on law.  Generally, these seminars introduce students to central themes in one of the special disciplinary approaches to law such as legal sociology, criminology, legal history, feminist legal theory, law and economics, legal philosophy, law and social work, law and anthropology, law and international relations, or other similar disciplines.  These seminars are evaluated by way of a research paper worth at least 75% of the final grade.