Queen's University

New law school curriculum set to address violence against women

 
2012-10-29

Law students in Ontario will now have the opportunity to get more education on violence against women thanks to a new set of curriculum modules. The modules, which are being launched by the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO), will serve as a roadmap to help professors integrate teachings about the issues around domestic violence and the law.

The new modules, which will be launched at Queen’s, have been designed to give students more systematic learning in the area of violence, no matter what kind of law they intend to practice.

“Very few lawyers know anything about the realities and legal implications of domestic violence,” says Kathleen Lahey, a law professor and co-director of Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s (FLSQ). “It’s time that law schools take up part of the responsibility for preparing future lawyers to be able to address these issues in everything from estate and tax planning, to divorce litigation.”

LCO Executive Director Patricia Hughes feels the new modules are long overdue. They will explore the issues in the context of ethics, family law and criminal law, and may be incorporated into existing courses, or applied as stand-alone seminars or intensive programs at a school’s discretion. They will be available to every Ontario law school and will include recommendations on everything from recognizing at-risk clients, to learning to inspire trust.

“The assumption is that in almost every area of law, a lawyer may run into someone who has been a victim of partner violence or who may be a perpetrator, or in some cases accused,” says Dr. Hughes. “And though every lawyer won’t become an expert, they need to be able to recognize red flags and know what to do next.”

Dr. Hughes will unveil the modules at a guest lecture at FLSQ on Oct. 29.

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