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Tuition trouble

Editorial Obiter

Much has been written about the debt many students take on if they decide to attend law school.

What is interesting to me is how students are now mobilizing to draw attention to their displeasure with tuition fees, and how this ties to wider problems facing the profession — like a lack of diversity or mental health issues, particularly for younger lawyers.

This week, Law Times reports on a group of students who have written an open letter to York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School with concern over tuition rates.

“That will be our last financial contribution to Osgoode or York University . . . until such time as Osgoode reduces tuition to a reasonable level — and thereafter only increases it with clear, specific, evidenced and public reasons,” the letter said. The same story cites a forthcoming report from the Law Students’ Society of Ontario that indicates only 13.6 per cent of law students who responded to the report didn’t have any debt, after entering law school.

In November, Law Times reported on how current and former students of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law wanted the school to cap annual tuition at $40,000 per year until the school performed a financial review. It was one of the newspaper’s most-read stories of the year.

People are paying attention to controversy over law school fees. Meanwhile, lawyers across Ontario have started to declare their interest in running for bencher at the Law Society of Ontario.

Lawyers at all stages of their careers should consider running for a spot.

Becoming a bencher may not mean one can directly affect the amount of tuition charged at a particular school, but it does mean a seat at the table with those who will chart the direction for the profession in the coming months, and years.

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