UQO officially inaugurates its Law Program, strengthening legal education in Gatineau
Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) celebrated the official inauguration of its long-awaited bachelor's law degree program this past week, marking the introduction of the first new law program in Quebec in 50 years.
Robert Bussière, the deputy of Gatineau at the National Assembly, expressed his pride in witnessing the fruition of the initiative. "It is with great pride that I participated, yesterday, in the official inauguration of the new law program of the University of Quebec en Outaouais (UQO). Wishing the students in the first cohort of the program a great start," Bussière remarked. He was joined by several prominent figures including Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, Suzanne Tremblay, and Deputy Parliamentary Leader, Mathieu Lévesque, among others.
The program will offer the city's students an affordable avenue to pursue their legal studies without the need to cross the Ottawa River or relocate, saving them from the high tuition fees associated with the neighbouring University of Ottawa. Expected to cost $1,800 per semester, this program stands in sharp contrast to the $11,000 annual tuition at the University of Ottawa.
Driven by the vision of making legal studies more accessible in Western Quebec, the program is the brainchild of key players like Julie Bourgault, an industrial relations professor at UQO and a member of the Quebec bar since 2003. "There are law degree programs in all of the large urban centres in Quebec, and yet Gatineau, the fourth-largest city in the province, did not have one. That’s why we did it,” Bourgault stated.
The curriculum of UQO's law program will be centred on key principles, including teaching fundamental notions of law, promoting equality, focusing on access to justice, emphasising interdisciplinary studies, and adopting a skills-based approach similar to the teaching methodology of the Quebec Bar School.
A recent report by the Barreau du Québec highlighted a growing demand for legal professionals specialising in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Outaouais. With a strong emphasis on ADR and other innovative teaching methods, UQO aims to address this gap and offer a comprehensive legal education.
Looking ahead, there's much anticipation for the program's future contributions to the community. UQO has plans to introduce a graduate program in law and legal studies, and there is talk of setting up a legal aid clinic. "Our objective is really to train reflexive lawyers who will be integrated into their community, and become aware of the role of law in society," emphasised Bourgault.
Photo caption: Leading figures of the Quebec government gathered together for the official inauguration of UQO's new law program in Gatineau.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Université du Québec en Outaouais.