“We have to make a plus out of being
smaller. The first week, all the students
came to my house for pizza. That
just can’t happen in the bigger schools.”
Jay Michi, president of the TRU Society of Law Students, agrees, noting
that he has already met two or three judges and is on a first-name basis
with at least a dozen lawyers. “It narrows the gap between the theoretical
academic study of law and getting a sense of the practical,” he says. He
adds that the quality of life in Kamloops is also an estimable thing, noting
that he’s had opportunities to take advantage of the many recreational
pursuits that are readily available here, and that the natural beauty of the
area is hard to match.
As if to prove his point, Mr. Michi shows me a picture he took with
his Blackberry from his front porch, a shot of Mount Peter and Mount
Paul with a double rainbow in front. “Whenever my eyes glaze over from
whatever I’m reading,” he says, “I just go outside and take a deep breath
and look at this.”
That’s music to the ears of someone like Frank Quinn, a long-time
Kamloops resident, former member of the TRU board and a bankruptcy
and insolvency lawyer in town. One of the primary goals in locating the
new law school in Kamloops was to attract new attorneys to the area and
entice them to settle here or in other small towns and cities nearby. Just as
smaller communities struggle to maintain sufficient numbers of doctors,
they often face the same challenges when it comes to attorneys.
“We’re losing lawyers at an alarming rate. About 60 percent of the
Kamloops bar is over the age of 50,” he says. And while Mr. Quinn jokes
that some may not see the drawbacks of having fewer lawyers around,
he notes that legal practitioners are essential to the vital functioning of
any community. “When you lose that foundation of skilled advisers, it
doesn’t take very long before you start to lose every other element of
business that makes a community work,” he says. “One of the pillars of
an economy are professionals.”
Mr. Quinn would be happy to hear that a number of the students are
already thinking about laying down roots in Kamloops, including Mr.
Michi, who has moved to the city on a permanent basis, as well as Mr.
Paladeau. “Before I came here, I never had any thoughts about practising
in Kamloops,” says Mr. Paladeau. “Now, having been here, if I was offered
a job, I would consider it. It’s a nice place, the people are great, and it’s dis-
abused me of the notion that you can’t work as a lawyer in a small city.”
And given the fact that TRU hopes to train a new generation of local
lawyers, it makes sense that the curriculum here reflects the needs and
issues that attorneys in the B.C. interior would likely encounter. Two pri-
IMAGES: NORM LI FOR DIAMOND SCHMI TT ARCHI TEC TS
A new faculty needs a new home: the faculty of law at Thompson Rivers University
will eventually move into the campus’s Old Main building once it undergoes extensive
renovations starting this spring. The firms of Diamond Schmitt Architects and Stantec
won the bid for their striking design, seen here in these exterior and interior views.
The redesigned building will have 40,000 square feet of new learning space for the law
faculty as well as common space for all TRU students.