The B.C. Law Society has set a date for members to vote on whether Trinity Western University's new law school should have been accredited.
The lawyers will meet in 13 cities on June 10 to vote on whether to overturn a decision by their own governing body to accredit the controversial law school.
The vote was triggered by Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan over concerns that the Christian covenant of the university discriminated against students in gay relationships.
After the law society's benchers voted 20-6 to accredit the school last month, Mulligan triggered another vote on the issue by collecting 1,500 written requests for a special general meeting.
There will be no proxy votes, so only lawyers present at the meetings in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria, Nanaimo Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Castlegar, Cranbrook, Prince Rupert, Smithers and Terrace will be able to vote.
Lawyers were notified of the vote last night in an email from Mulligan, who expects the meetings will be open to the public.
"As there will be organized opposition to the resolution, and proxy voting is expressly prohibited by the Law Society Rules, the outcome of this historic meeting will be determined by those who attend, participate, and vote," wrote Mulligan in the email.
Christian covenant concerns
Trinity Western University students must sign a Christian covenant governing behaviour, including abstaining from sexual intimacy "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
Critics say the covenant essentially bans anyone in a gay relationship from enrolling in the school.
School officials have argued the issue is a matter of religious freedom, and the faith component would add a unique dimension to the legal education. Students will be encouraged to see the profession of law as a high calling of service, and to volunteer with local, national, and global NGO’s that serve underdeveloped nations and the vulnerable.
In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.
The Law Society of Upper Canada voted 28 to 21 against the accreditation of the new law school.
Nova Scotia's Barristers Society will only accept articling students from the school if it changes the covenant for law students or allows them to opt out.
The school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. Trinity said its potential law graduates are cleared to article and practise in:
- Newfoundland and Labrador.