Advocates say ON law schools do not provide enough training on domestic violence

February 5, 2015

The Toronto Star reports that only 2 Ontario law schools have incorporated domestic violence instruction into their first-year ethics or professional resonsibility courses, in spite of recommendations from the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. In 2011, the Committee found that many victims of domestic violence had been given poor, and sometimes fatal, legal advice, prompting the Law Commission of Ontario to create teaching modules on domestic violence for first-year ethics and professional responsibility courses. However, Patricia Hughes, Executive Director of the Law Commission, told the Star that "to my knowledge, no one actually took up the suggestions we made." Hughes says that inadequate training can lead lawyers to offer "extreme mis-advice" to victims, potentially putting lives in danger. Moreover, without training, some lawyers may not catch warning signs of domestic violence. According to the Star, only Western University's and Lakehead University's law schools have incorporated the mandatory training. 4 other institutions said that the material is covered in some criminal or family courses. Hughes acknowledged that making changes to the curriculum can be difficult, but said that "this should be part of that basic stuff." Toronto Star