The Law Society of British Columbia has passed a resolution to not approve Trinity Western University’s (TWU) school of law. The decision made by the society’s governing body, the Benchers, comes one day after a referendum was held in which members of the society voted 74 per cent in favour of not approving the school.
This means that TWU graduates will not be admitted to the Law Society of British Columbia and therefore will not be licensed to practice law in the province.
Trinity Western University’s law school, set to open in 2016, was mired in controversy after some took issue with its Community Covenant, a pledge that students must make to attend the school. The Community Covenant requires students to pledge that they will abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The Oct. 30 referendum was called after a non-binding vote took place in June, where the vote was 3,210 to 968 to reverse the decision to accredit the school.
B.C.’s law society is one of many across Canada rethinking the school’s accreditation. The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) voted 28 to 21 against accrediting the school in April. In Nova Scotia, their law society decided that it would only accredit the school if the covenant was rescinded. In New Brunswick, a special general meeting took the pulse of N.B. lawyers to discover that they, too, were against the school’s accreditation, but because the governing board of the law society had already approved it, they are in the same situation that B.C. found itself in earlier this summer.
In the referendum question put to its members, the Law Society of B.C. said that the resolution will be binding and implemented if one-third of all members of the society voted and two-thirds voted in favour. Both of these conditions were met according to the Law Society of B.C.’s results.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Oct. 31, 2014 to include the Benchers’ meeting results.