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- Dalhousie University. Faculty of Law.
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Dalhousie’s Faculty of Law was the first university law school established in the common-law provinces of Canada, and became the model for legal education across the country. The school was opened in 1883 with Richard Chapman Weldon as dean, supported by a volunteer faculty of Halifax lawyers and judges.
After four years in temporary housing, in 1887 the law school moved into a corner of the new Dalhousie College, known from 1919 as the Forrest Building. In 1951 the school moved to the Law Building (currently the University Club), which had been designed and built for the purpose thirty years earlier, but commandeered for other uses; by 1966 the law students and faculty had outgrown the space and moved into their current residence, the Weldon Law Building, named for the school’s first dean. After the fifth-floor library was destroyed by fire in 1985, the building was expanded and renovated to create the new James Dunn Law Library.
The Faculty of Law counts among its notable graduates Dalhousie’s first black graduate, James Robinson Johnston, who earned his law degree in 1898. In 1918 Frances Fish became the first woman to graduate from Dalhousie Law School and later the first woman to be admitted to the Barristers’ Society of Nova Scotia. By 1936 Dalhousie Law School graduates sat on the bench of all but three Provincial Supreme Courts, and in 1950 the faculty began offering graduate programs.
During the second half of the twentieth century the law school established initiatives and programs including Dalhousie Legal Aid (1970); the Marine and Environmental Law Program (1974); the Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq Initiative (1989); the Health Law Institute (1992); and the Law and Technbology Institute (2001). In 2009 Sir Seymour Schulich donated $20 million to fund 40 new annual scholarships, the largest gift of its kind ever made to a Canadian law school, and the school was renamed the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.
A $3 million gift from John McCall MacBain in 2011 established the MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy, and Joanna Erdman was the first person to hold the chair.
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