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Lakehead University Law School to Focus on Aboriginal Issues

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Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has received approval—and $1.5 million in provincial funding—to open the province's first law school in 42 years, and it will be geared toward aboriginal legal issues.

“The new program will begin in September 2013 with a strong focus on aboriginal law, legal issues relevant to practice in rural and remote communities and law relating to natural resource management,” the Ontario government said in a statement. “It will also support economic prosperity and help to attract a wider range of opportunities for Northern Ontarians.”

The school's foundation will help alleviate several issues confronting the legal field and education. Besides focusing on topics related to the area's economy, the school will cultivate and keep local talent closer to home. Ontario's first new law school since 1969, the facility is also the latest in a range of efforts to address local cultural needs when creating new curricula, according to the Globe and Mail. And Macleans noted that this could help alleviate the country's longstanding attorney shortage.

There are currently six law schools in the province, all located in central, eastern or southwestern Ontario, the Canadian Press said. This will be the first law school in northern Ontario and the seventh in the province overall. It's only the second to be opened since 1969. It will be housed in a historic local high school that it took possession of in 2008 and will refurbish, Macleans reported. Plans are to enroll 55 students starting in fall 2013, expanding to a total of up to 150 students three years later, Lakehead University President Brian Stevenson told Macleans.

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According to the Globe and Mail, it is Ontario’s first new law school since 1969, and one of several recent efforts across Canada to craft programs and curricula around local cultural needs, from plans for an indigenous law degree at the University of Victoria to Cape Breton University’s newly minted chair in aboriginal business studies.