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Celebrating 50 Years: 1975

Faculty of Law is Established and Curriculum Development Begins

After years of lobbying by the Calgary community and members of the Calgary Bar, the Alberta Government appointed an ad hoc Committee on Legal Studies to investigate
establishing a Law School in Calgary in 1973. The Minister of Advanced Education approved the findings of the Committee and the University of Calgary received
authorization to establish a Faculty of Law in October 1974. The school was slated to begin operations with a Dean and three or four lecturers in 1976 and an initial intake of 60 students. Enrolment was expected to rise to 160 by 1978. The University began a search for a Dean of Law almost immediately and several months later announced the appointment of Professor John McLaren effective July 1, 1975 when the Faculty itself was formally established. 

In October 1975 Dean McLaren convened a three day workshop intended to shape the backbone of the law school’s curriculum. A dozen deans and professors of law from across Canada and Mr Justice Herb Laycraft of Alberta Supreme Court were involved, while other stakeholders including present and prospective law students and members of the bench and bar were invited to register to participate. “A new law school raises profound questions as to the substance and form of legal education which will be developed therein”, said the new Dean of Law. “How can we ensure that the program will be both intellectually stimulating and socially relevant, and what educational
experiences will most effectively promote competence in legal doctrine and skills, as well as in creativity and sensitivity in solving human and institutional law problems?”

Dean McLaren used the workshop as an opportunity to search for law professors for the new Faculty and in December seven new academic members of staff were announced. They began the task of developing the first-year curriculum later the same month. A law librarian and two assistants were hired to create a library for the school, which was housed in the Library Tower. Quarters for the Faculty were constructed on the top floor of the Bio Sciences Building where the staff moved from their temporary location in the Arts and Administration Building.

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