The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law (U of O Law, uOttawa Law, or Ottawa Law) is the law school at the University of Ottawa, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the nation's capital. Established in 1953, the faculty is today divided into civil law and common law sections, the two formally recognized legal traditions in Canada. The faculty is very highly rated and maintains close links with the legal communities in Quebec, Ontario and abroad. The faculty of law is also home to two highly respected bilingual law journals, one produced by the civil law section (Revue générale de droit) and the other produced by the common law section (Ottawa Law Review).
The law school has produced a diverse array of successful alumni. Currently, in addition to the dean of the Civil Law Section at the University of Ottawa, the deans of the Robson Hall Faculty of Law, the Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Law, and the Université de Montréal Faculty of Law have all previously obtained at least one law degree from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.
As the largest law school in Canada, uOttawa Law often touts the advantages of its wide range of program offerings, courses, and opportunities, including proximity to federal agencies and courts, such as the Supreme Court of Canada and the Parliament of Canada.
The law school was established in 1953 on the initiative of Gerald Fauteux, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. It began as an exclusively civil law faculty, designed to train lawyers who would enter the Quebec legal system, particularly in order to practice in the Outaouais region just across the Ottawa River. In 1957, the faculty began training students in the common law as well; the two sections were then divided, each with its own programs, faculties and deans. Graduate programs were introduced that same year by the civil law section; the common law section followed suit in 1981.
Although the school has had since 1970 a system in which students enrolled in either of the common or civil law sections could receive accreditation in the other legal system, it was not until 1994 that this system was formalized into the National Program. In doing so, the faculty became one of the first in Canada to offer bi-juridical training in both the common law and civil law.
The faculty of law's current building, Fauteux Hall, was named in honour of Gerald Fauteux and was constructed in 1973. During the 2006 fall semester, University of Ottawa president Gilles Patry announced that Fauteux Hall would undergo extensive renovations in 2009. Due to funding cutbacks, a new law building expansion was cancelled; instead, interior renovations were completed in 2012, including substantial changes to the entrance atrium and the Brian Dickson Law Library, and the construction of the state-of-the-art Norton Rose classroom. Construction of the Ian G. Scott Courtroom, a fully functional courtroom where sitting judges hear regular cases, was completed across the street from the main Faculty of Law building.
In the Common Law Section, applicants are expected to have completed a three-to-four-year undergraduate degree. Acceptance to the common law program is highly competitive. Successful applicants generally have an A- (3.70) undergraduate grade point average and a competitive LSAT score. The program also requires a personal statement, two reference letters, and claims to use a holistic admissions approach, taking into account a variety of factors including work experience, prior education, and other exceptional circumstances.
According to the Faculty of Law's website, the English-language common law program received 3469 applications in 2009, of which 280 were admitted. The French-language common law program, including the Programme de droit canadien, admits up to 80 new students each year.
In the Civil Law Section, which teaches the legal tradition practised in Quebec, applicants need only have obtained a Diploma of Collegial Studies (DEC) before applying. The Civil Law Section's requirements are generally considered to be less stringent than those of the Common Law Section, since applicants are normally assessed only based on the previous post-secondary grades they received in college or university. Nevertheless, a minimum A- (80%) average is now required for admission from university; students applying directly from CEGEP, however, face stricter requirements.
The language of instruction depends on the program; while the civil law program is instructed entirely in French, the common law program is available in either English or French, with students permitted to take classes in both languages if they wish. In compliance with university policy, all written work may be submitted in either language, with the exception of the French common law program, in which all written and oral work must be submitted in French.
Graduates of the common law section receive the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, while civil law graduates receive the Licentiate in Law (LL.L.) degree. On May 3, 2010, the Senate of the University approved a motion to change the designation of the common law degree from LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) to J.D. (Juris Doctor) . The Faculty of Law equally offers Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degrees in both sections.
The following is a list of several joint programs offered by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law:
Tuition at the University of Ottawa's Law School varies according to the program being studied. Students enrolled in the civil law program pay the lowest fees, with the tuition rates 2012–2013 set at $8,833.46; this stands in contrast to the common law program, where annual tuition rates for 2014–2015 are $16,772.40. Students in the National Program pay $10,077.70 for their extra year of study. Students enrolled in the dual J.D. program with an American law school pay what the University of Ottawa has termed "regular Canadian law student rates during the entire program," presumably meaning the regular common law tuition fees at the school.
The Faculty of Law is well known for its highly successful mooting program and track record of international successes. The moot team has won the international Vis moot, the Oxford Intellectual Property moot in 2013 and 2016, and various other competitions, outperforming rival schools like Harvard Law School in many cases.
Offerings in areas of practice including environmental law, health law, criminal law, tax law and technology law have become highly developed, with diverse practical and academic offerings being made available to students in those areas. The school is also known for its strong focus on public-interest law. More recently, there have been efforts to bolster offerings in business and corporate law with the creation of the new Business Law Clinic.
Maclean's magazine last released its annual law school ranking on September 19, 2013 and has not released any rankings for law schools since then. In that evaluation, Ottawa's common law program was ranked 10th overall in Canada, scoring particularly well (3rd overall) in the category for Supreme Court clerkships. The civil law section was ranked 3rd in Canada among other civil law schools (the majority being in the province of Québec).