UBC’s Allard School of Law has partnered with the University of Hawaii, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Melbourne to create programs for law students looking to expand their horizons beyond Canada.
These programs afford students the opportunity to extend their degree and potentially graduate with accreditations from both schools.
At UBC, law students take three years to finish their J.D. program. Their final 12 months consists of an articling and licensing period, nine months of which is spent in a position at a law firm, and 10 weeks in a Bar course.
These Joint Education Programs allow students to extend their studies, spending two years at UBC, and one or two at their partner institution, depending on the school. Students apply separately to each institution in their second year.
In Hawaii, this means students graduate with both an American and Canadian law degree. Students who attend the program in Melbourne will graduate with both a Canadian J.D. and a master's of law in Australia, while the Hong Kong program does not promise a second degree. Rather, it makes students eligible to take the Hong Kong Bar course (also known as the PCLL) should they be accepted.
Students must finish the licensing process in both countries to be eligible to practice in both jurisdictions.
Kaila Mikkelsen, the assistant dean of students at Allard, said the idea to partner with the University of Hong Kong stemmed from a desire to increase the school's connections with Asia.
“We had a strong relationship with the University of Hong Kong through our previous dean, and each year, receive applications from students in our entering class who are from Hong Kong [or] have connections to Hong Kong, and we certainly have students who want to go there. So I think it’s just this idea of trying to broaden our legal education, and allow access to a greater number of students to practice internationally,” said Michelson.
Since the establishment of the partnership with the University of Hong Kong in 2008, three students from UBC have entered the program. One student has studied in Hawaii.
For students thinking about working in the United States, the Joint Education Program at the University of Hawaii helps meet these needs, as students with a Canadian J.D. are eligible to write the Bar only in a few states.
The Hawaii program also offers a unique opportunity for students studying Indigenous or environmental law.
“They have an Indigenous student population at the University of Hawaii law school, so there are connections there because we have a strong Indigenous law students group here at Allard. It also has a strong environmental program, so you can see that there is some synergy between the two schools,” said Mikkelsen.
There is one caveat, however. Students participating in the Hawaii program will pay out of state tuition for the two years spent at the university, which charges $42,384 USD per year.
Melbourne is the newest addition to Allard’s study abroad opportunities, with the program taking applicants for the first time last year.
Students spend the final year of their J.D. studies in Melbourne, completing a master's degree at the same time, so students graduate with both a J.D. from UBC and a master's of law from Melbourne. Thus far, only one student has gone through this program.
Wherever they would like to go, Mikkelsen said she would encourage students to explore the opportunity to go abroad as a part of their degree.
“It’s a really neat program. The opportunity to study in a foreign country while still receiving your degree here ... is an interesting one and I think it can enhance students' professional opportunities after graduation because they have that other experience.”