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The Weldon Tradition


Richard Chapman Weldon (Dean 1883 - 1914)
Speaking at the Law School's opening ceremonies 30th October, 1883:


In drawing up our curriculum we have not forgotten the duty which every university owes to the state, the duty which Aristotle saw and emphasized so long ago — of teaching young men the science of government. In our free government we all have political duties, some higher, some humbler, and these duties will be best performed by those who have given them most thought. We may fairly hope that some of our students will, in their riper years, be called upon to discharge public duties. We aim to help these to act with fidelity and wisdom.

The lasting legacy of our first Dean

The Weldon Tradition is the "often referred to, seldom defined" essence of the law school that began at Dalhousie. 

The Law Student Handbook of 1975-76 (at pp 4-5) put it this way:

Although it is a tradition at Dalhousie Law School to have close student-faculty relations, that is only part of the often referred to, seldom defined Weldon Tradition.

The Weldon Tradition is also one of public service. It implies that graduates of this Law School are more than ordinarily willing to work and serve to improve the communities in which they practise as lawyers. It implies that one of the essentials of being a lawyer is the ability to make an effort to improve the system under which he lives. It is, in brief, a tradition of concern, of change and of humanity.

Living the Weldon Tradition means having the ability to participate not only in the affairs of the Law School, but also the willingness to take part in the activities of the university and of the community.

Our participation is required in the larger community as well. [...] This Law School, under the initial impetus of two of our students, has made possible a vigorous Legal Aid system that has become a Canadian model. It has given students attending this School a concrete opportunity to involve themselves in the community, allowing them to leave their ivory towers to see the world as it really is and to apply their theoretical notions of what law is all about to the daily problems of those less fortunate than themselves. This is an exemplification of the Weldon Tradition.