Western Law

First Year Curriculum

In first year, students take the following required courses: Constitutional Law; Contracts; Criminal Law; Orientation to Law & the Legal System; Legal Ethics and Professionalism; Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy; Property; and Torts.

In the 2015-16 academic year, first-year students will have the option of taking either Legal Ethics and Professionalism or Corporate Law in the Winter Term.

5110 - Constitutional Law
A survey of constitutional law fundamentals including the rule of law; the Crown and the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government; and judicial review. The nature of Canadian federalism will be explored, along with Aboriginal rights and the rights of individuals under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Five credits, full year.

5115 - Contracts
An introduction to the law concerning binding obligations voluntarily entered into, commonly called contracts. The following concepts are covered: how contracts are created; the problems in the contractual relationship; and remedies for breach of contract. Five credits, full year.

5120 - Criminal Law
An introduction to criminal law including an overview of the criminal process, the principles of criminal liability, the elements of specific crimes, and statutory and common law defences. Five credits, full year.

5135 - Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy: 
Through a combination of lectures, small group instruction and assignments, students will learn the foundations of Canadian law, to plan and conduct library and computer-assisted legal research, to analyze cases and statutes, to write legal memoranda using proper citation, and the fundamentals of written and oral advocacy. Three credits, Fall and January terms.

5140 - Property
This course consists of two parts: the law of personal property, and the possession and ownership of land. After exploring selected aspects of the law of personal property, the following topics are covered: the origin of interests in land; the concepts of estates and future interests; fees, tenancies and rights in the land of another; and land ownership and family obligations. Five credits, full year.

5145 - Torts
The law of torts is concerned with the compensation of a wide range of civil wrongs. The focus of this course is on the legal rules governing the tort of negligence. Other topics which may be examined include the intentional torts, nuisance, strict liability, defences, the assessment of damages and modern alternatives to tort law such as statutory compensation. Five credits, full year.

5150 - Legal Ethics and Professionalism
An introduction to legal ethics, the legal profession and core elements of professionalism. Three credits, full year.

5155 - Orientation to Law & the Legal System
This blended course provides background for the study of law and an introduction to the Canadian legal system. Learning modules include elements of the modern legal system; statutory interpretation; alternative dispute resolution; the position of Aboriginal Peoples within the legal system; the implementation of international law into domestic law; various legal theories and perspectives and their application. Two credits. Pass/fail grade.

The Small Group Program

Students in first year will take one of their full year courses (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property or Torts) in a small group of no more than 25 students. The small group format is used to introduce students to the basic skills required by law students. It also provides first year students with an invaluable support system, strengthened by the fact that the students in each small group will also be in the same section of the other first year courses thus taking all of them together. For each group, teaching assistants will conduct hands-on legal research instruction in the library, assist with skills learning and generally act as mentors to the students in their group.

The Academic Session

The academic session at the Faculty of Law comprises a period of approximately thirty weeks. The session is divided into two terms: Fall and Winter.

The January Intensive Period

For the first three weeks of the Winter Term, each student at Western Law enrols in an intensive course. This intensive period is designed to promote active learning and to attract distinguished visiting professors and eminent practitioners to Western.

During the January Intensive period, first-year students take only one course: Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy. Building on skills developed during the fall term, students have an extended period in which to focus exclusively on researching and writing a detailed memorandum of law. They also receive instruction in written and oral advocacy, culminating in an appellate advocacy exercise at the end of the term. The LRWA course is taught in a small group format, allowing students to receive intensive individual attention and feedback.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Training

As part of the Orientation to Law & the Legal System Course, first-year students will engage in an intensive three-day training period in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Students will receive instruction on the theory and practice of ADR, participate in simulation exercises to learn negotiation and mediation skills, and receive individual feedback from experienced practitioners.

Course Offerings Chart