You are a successful undergrad, considered the perils of the law school, and still think its right for you. If I’m even close to describing you, then chances are high that you have seen—and tweeted about—the possibility of Memorial opening up their own law school. This idea has been met with a lot of positivity from students, however one should face the undoubted truth—it is a disastrous idea.
Initially, let us look at the huge elephant in the room with Memorial opening a law school: the money. This type of project would require a substantial amount of pocket change. I wrote last week about infrastructural development, particularly the proposed sites for the long-overdue new Science building and the difficulties finding them (Vol 63, Iss 18). If MUN does take the two-building route for the new Science building, which I believe they need, then it would further increase the difficulties associated with finding space for a new building, yet alone the cost associated with it. Additionally, the building would not be the only start-up cost, as we would also need to purchase an expansive legal library. Well, who would pay for these costs? Prospective students, of course.
Furthermore, Memorial would have to find professors for the faculty, which in itself is an expensive challenge. I may be wrong, but it is very unlikely we have a lot of LLM (Master of Law) graduates kicking around the city, let alone those who are willing to give up their high six figure salary to return to the classroom where they have already spent nearly a decade. With that being said, if Memorial were planning on starting such a faculty, they would have to either bring these professors in from outside the province, or somehow accommodate local LLM grads to hang up their day jobs. I am no economist, but I don’t think it is hard to see that both scenarios, like infrastructural development, would be significantly costly.
High costs means high tuition, and that should be obvious. If Memorial’s tuition is not significantly cheaper than other schools, then no competitive applicant would come here instead of a law school which would be closer to home. Unless of course our admissions criteria were easier than other schools, which would be not only an insult to the profession as a whole, but a national insult to the integrity of the school.
So, let’s step forward in some scary alternate reality and imagine Memorial somehow did find the money and space to open a law school that is highly respected and not super expensive. The first group of graduates makes it through the school and plans to start an articling position, only to find the sad reality—there is a high chance they do not find one. There are articling crisis happening all over the country, and it is a guarantee that St. Johns will not be able to accommodate articling positions for a graduating class every year, even if we had the smallest class sizes in Canada. Water Street is not Bay Street, and resultantly, we would have a lot of fast-food workers with over a hundred thousand in debt.
Now, before you praise Memorial for the formation of a law-school planning committee, let’s consider the alternative: Leaving the province. University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Law strictly reserves seats for Newfoundlanders, while University of Saskatchewan will give students in provinces without a law school admissions priority. This doesn’t include the other dozen schools that teaches Common law and have done so for half a century. So if you are set on Law, apply aboard and enjoy a new part of the country—when you are not studying sixteen hours a day, of course.