Law society vote to decide on TWU law school

The president of Trinity Western University will try to convince the B.C. Law Society to accept lawyers trained by the private Langley school.

On Tuesday, a special meeting of the Law Society is being held in an attempt to prevent TWU-trained lawyers from practising in British Columbia. That would reverse a 20-7 vote of the Law Society held earlier this year.

A challenge from a Victoria lawyer gathered enough support from B.C. lawyers to force the special meeting.

Bob Kuhn, the TWU president, will speak to the lawyers, who will be gathering at a number of sites around the province, including in Surrey and Abbotsford.

The debate on the resolution will start at 12:30 p.m. and voting will begin around B.C. no later than 5 p.m. Law society members will be allowed to speak for only a few minutes each.

At issue is whether TWU’s rules about gay students should render it incapable of graduating lawyers.

The private, Christian university has a covenant students are required to sign which bans a number of activities, including sexual intimacy which “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

TWU plans to open its law school in 2016.

If one third of the membership of the law society vote, and two thirds vote in favour, the resolution will be binding and TWU-trained lawyers won’t be able to practice in this province.

Ontario and Nova Scotia’s law societies have already voted to not allow TWU lawyers to practise there, while most other provinces have approved them.

TWU is now waging a legal battle with both of those law societies, and with lawyers who are trying to overturn the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education’s decision to approve the school.

The last time the covenant came up as a legal issue was in the late 1990s, when TWU announced it would create a teacher training program.

The B.C. College of Teachers objected on similar grounds, and in 2001 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled eight to one in favour of the university.

That ruling came before Canadian laws changed to allow gay marriage.

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