Legal education in Manitoba started in 1877, when the Law Society of Manitoba introduced an articling system and examinations protocols aimed at encouraging local Manitoba residents to pursue legal careers. Prior to that date, most lawyers in Manitoba had trained at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, or in Europe. In 1914, Hugh Amos Robson, then a judge on the Court of King's Bench and Esten Kenneth Williams, a young lawyer at the time, worked together to create the Manitoba Law School, with the intention of modelling it after Osgoode Hall, from which Williams had recently graduated. Sponsored by the Law Society of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba, the Manitoba Law School was formally created in the summer of 1914.
Historical Manitoba Law Journal articles
The Manitoba Law Journal is an exceptional resource for learning more about the history of the law school and our commitment to legal education in Manitoba for over a century. The following articles provide a precise view into our history.
Volume 39, Issue 1: A Review of the Current Legal Landscape (2016)
Modern Legal Education: Towards Practice-Ready Attitudes, Attributes and Professionalism by Black-Branch, Jonathan L.
Issue Introduction and Overview by MacPherson, Darcy L.
The Next Great Transition in Canadian Legal Education, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Interview with Charles Huband, by Foster, Lane
Interview with Dale Gibson, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Interview with Arthur Braid, C.M., Q.C., by Trainer, Ryan
Interview with Cameron Harvey, by Epp-Fransen, Jesse; Trainer, Ryan
Interview with Janet Baldwin, by Davenport, Jessica; Trainer, Ryan
Interview with Gerald Nemiroff, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Interview with Jack R. London, C.M., Q.C., by Davenport, Jessica; Epp-Fransen, Jesse
Interview with David Deutscher, by Schwartz, Bryan P.; MacPherson, Darcy
Interview with Alvin Esau, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Interview with Justice Freda Steel, by Trainer, Ryan
Interview with Lee Stuesser, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Interview with John Eaton, by Schwartz, Bryan P.
Volume 42, Issue 2: (Special Issue): Chief Justice Robson: A Selection of His Original Works and Contemporary Reflections on Them (2019)
Chief Justice H.A. Robson was born in England in 1871, and came with his parents to Regina in 1882. He was called to the bar in 1899, and moved to Winnipeg three years later.
H.A. Robson fulfilled many important public functions during his career, including service as Manitoba's first Public Utilities Commissioner (1912-15), as leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party (1927-30), as commissioner of inquiry into the Winnipeg General Strike (1919), and as judge of the Manitoba Court of King's Bench (1910-12) and the Manitoba Court of Appeal (1930-44), and Chief Justice of the former Court (1944).
Surprisingly, in view of his other commitments, Mr. Robson found time for considerable writing, authoring several articles, a casebook on Company Law, and a textbook on Municipal Law.
It was H.A. Robson who first recognized the need for the law school in Manitoba. He persuaded the Law Society and the University to found the Manitoba Law School in 1914, and he served as Chairman of the Board from then until his death in 1944. By naming our building "Robson Hall", the University honours the memory of the father of formal legal education in Manitoba.
Chief Justice E.K. Williams was born in Park-hill, Ontario, in 1889. He was called to the Ontario bar in 1911, but ill health decreed that he leave the province the following year, and the toss of a coin chose Winnipeg over Barbados.
Mr. Williams' remarkable forensic talents soon won him a wide reputation and involved him in many of the most important cases that arose during his career at the bar. Always active in the affairs of his profession, he served the Law Society as Bencher from 1931 until his retirement and as President from 1941 to 1943. He was elected President of the Canadian Bar Association for 1945-6. In 1946 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of King's Bench.
Scholarship was one of Mr. Williams' life-long interests. He built a large personal library (which he graciously presented to the Faculty of Law) and was the author of several articles, and two legal text books.
E.K. Williams began to teach at the Manitoba Law School in 1915, and he maintained his association with the school, as Trustee from 1937, and as Chairman from 1947, until it ceased to exist in 1966. The E.K. Williams Library is named in honour of his devotion to legal education in Manitoba for over half a century.
The beginning (1877-1944)
Law Society of Manitoba introduces system of articling and examinations.
James A. Miller is the first person to receive a LL.B. degree from the University, awarded ad eundem (in recognition of being earned elsewhere)
Andrew W. Thompson is the first person to complete the LL.B. program.
University of Manitoba and Law Society of Manitoba found the Manitoba Law School together. The first location of the Manitoba Law School was the Vaughan Street YMCA in Winnipeg's downtown.
Manitoba Law School relocates to the newly constructed law courts building.
Isabel Maclean Hunt became the first woman in Manitoba to receive an LL.B. degree. Maclean Hunt was also the first woman in Manitoba to be named Queen’s Council, receiving that honour in 1953.
Manitoba Law School develops a “mail-in” course option to combat the deadly influenza outbreak.
Brian Dickson graduates with a LL.B. He will later go on to become the 15th Chief Justice of Canada.
The law school moves to the old law courts building at the corner of Broadway and York.
Many of the faculty and a high percentage of the students leave school to enlist in the war effort.
the first LL.M. programme was established.
Years of growth and transition (1945 - 1978)
Enrolment drastically increases. Without room for all students to article at local firms, special practice classes are developed to provide students articling experience.
The law school creates a course of graduate study leading to an LL.M. degree.
The law school moves back to the law courts at the corner of Broadway and Kennedy for more space.
Law society allows veteran students to substitute their service in lieu of articling experience.
Board of trustees decides to forgo annual financial contributions from the law society and the university.
The the Manitoba Law School Journal, later to be named the Manitoba law journal publishes it’s first volume.
The law society creates a bar admission course.
On august 22nd, the board of trustees approves an agreement to terminate their 52 year old agreement between the law society and the university of Manitoba, creating the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law.
Legal Research Institute was created in order to create, preserve and communicate legal knowledge.
the Faculty pioneered an avenue of entry for the mature student. This allowed students 26 years old or over, who have proven themselves academically or otherwise to enroll without having completed any pre-law University courses.
The law school moves to the fort garry campus of the University of Manitoba, to it’s new home in the Robson Hall Building. Named for Co-founder and acting Dean Hugh Amos Robson.
The faculty introduces a legal aid service to help expose law students to real legal situations.
The school develops one of the most comprehensive moot court programs in western Canada.
Our school today (1979 - present day)
Ken Young is the first Aboriginal Law Graduate.
A course entitled “lawyering process” is introduced, exposing law students to real clients and cases.
Asper chair in international business and trade law is created honoring Israel Asper.
Marcel A Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law is founded.
The Manitoba law journal expands to include Underneath the Golden Boy.
The Asper Review for International Business and Trade Law publishes it’s first volume.
L Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic is founded.
The LL.B. degree is changed to a Juris Doctor degree.
Centre for Human Rights Research is founded.
The Canadian Journal of Human Rights publishes it’s first volume.
The Master of Human Rights Program is founded in collaboration with the Faculties of Arts, Education, and Social Work, as well as the Centre for Human Rights Research, the Arthur v. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Principal, First Dean of Law Joseph Thoarinn Thorson, appointed as the Principal in 1921, J.T. Thorson would be appointed the first official Dean of the Law School. His administration marked the beginning of a period of considerable improvement in legal education. He left his position in the Law School after being elected to the House of Commons.
Founder, and Acting Dean Hugh Amos Robson after J.T. Thorson stepped down, Hugh Amos Robson filled his position as the Acting Dean with the assistance of Edwin Loftus. Robson, decided in 1927 to lengthen the course to four years, and instituted and articling program.
Dean Ephraim Herbert Coleman was known as an urbane and erudite man with a mania for reading. He was formally appointed as the Dean in 1929. He served the law school ably until leaving to take up the position of Under Secretary of State for Canada.
Acting Dean Frederick Read was a quiet man who took up the study of law after many years as a law clerk. After the appointment of Dean Laidlaw, Read would remain with the law school with the title "Professor of the Law". He would eventually establish a national reputation for meticulous scholarship. His contribution to Manitoba Bar News, Vol. 10, No. 1-2 in 1937 is still cited today to explain the history of the courts. During the second world war he worked in the Office of Custodian of Enemy Alien Property in Ottawa.
Dean Thomas Walter "Tommy" Laidlaw was a very popular Dean, while he made no pretence at deep scholarship, he seemed to possess a talent for everything he set his hands to. He was universally liked and respected by those who knew him. His term as Dean from the depth of the depression through to the end of World War II included some of the most difficult times in the school's history. His good-natured and self-sacrificing administration in the face of trying circumstances commanded the admiration of his colleagues and students. He served with the University's Naval Training Division during the war. By the 1942-43 sessions only a handful of students remained. The 1944 graduating class consisted of two students. He would serve as the Law Dean part time until the end of the war. In 1945, shortly after the death of Hugh Amos Robson, Dean Laidlaw asked to be relieves of his duties.
Dean George Percy Raymond "Pete" Tallin was a man with an incredible range of interested and accomplishments. He was a Rhodes Scholar, champion athlete, prize-winning typist, distinguished lawyer, voracious reader, part-time teacher (law, mathematics, and public speaking) and a dedicated soldier. He served in the war, he commanded the University of Manitoba Contingent, C.O.T.C. There are numerous stories of Dean Tallin which are not easy to distinguish between factual and legendary. One claim is that to demonstrate the virtues of physical fitness he would prostrate himself in front of the classroom and challenge students to stand on his mid-section. During his Deanship he oversaw the growth of the school as enrollments skyrocketed after the war.
Dean Clifford Edwards was hired by the law school in 1958 as the new permanent lecturer. He was a slight young Englishman whose extraordinary teaching talents made a very important contribution to the school's improvement program. After Col. Streight's death in 1960, he would also take over the duties as recorder. He oversaw our move from the Law Courts to our permanent home in Robson Hall, at the Fort Garry Campus of the University of Manitoba. In 2006 he was awarded the order of Canada.
Dean Jack R. London hired in 1975 as the first Director of Legal Education for the Law Society, he was originally tasked with reviewing, revising, and developing several courses and programs. Known as the "Blue Jean Dean" his administration would oversee a series of new cirriculum changes that ensured students would balance their courses between doctrinal, perspective, and clinical courses in each year of study. They were designed to progress in difficulty from year to year, providing students with a better sense of continuing growth and achievement.
Dean Trevor Anderson left the University of Alberta Faculty of Law in 1971 to come teach law at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law. In 1972 he became our first Associate Dean. During his Deanship he oversaw the implementation of the current LL.B. program. In 1995 he received the Louis St. Laurent Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contribution to the Canadian Bar. In 2007 he received the Manitoba Bar Association Distinguished Service Award.
Dean Roland Penner received his LL.B. from the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law in 1961. He started teaching in 1967. In 1981 he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature where he served until defeated in the 1988 general election. After serving his term as Dean he remained as a professor and he continued to teach until retirement in 2009.
He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2000 and the Order of Manitoba in 2014, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Dean Arthur "Art" Braid, was made a Queen's Counsel in 1984. He lectured in Law at the University of Manitoba until 2001 and served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law from 1994 to 1999. In 1992 he was inducted into the Order of Canada. He received the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation Medal in 1992, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and the Peter D. Curry Chancellors Award in 1988.
Dean Harvey Secter, also served as the 14th Chancellor of the University of Manitoba. He is an active community philanthropist who has invested greatly in education.
Dean Chris Axworthy served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law from 2008-2010.
Dean Lorna Turnbull. After Dean Axworthy left the Law school in 2008, Dr. Turnbull served as the Acting Dean before being named the Dean of Law in the following year. She served from 2010 until 2016.
Acting Dean, David Asper took office in 2020 and served until 2021. He provided leadership during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during a time of uncertainty. His service was appreciated as he marched the school through a tumultuous period. He guided the school in hiring during this period, growing the Faculty by two new assistant professors.
Photo Credit: Dr. Amar Khoday
Dean of Law Richard Jochelson is the current Dean of the Faculty of Law. He holds a Ph.D. in Law from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, a Master of Laws from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Calgary Faculty of Law (Gold Medal), and a Bachelor of Science in Zoology (with Distinction), also from the University of Calgary. He served his articling year as a clerk at the Alberta Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench, before working at one of Canada’s largest law firms. He taught criminal law for 10 years at the University of Winnipeg prior to joining the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law.
Cam Harvey (Manitoba & Other Legal Trivia)
Dale & Lee Gibson (Substantial Justice)
Matthew Renaud (Robson Hall - 100 Years)
Manitoba Historical Society