Required Courses & Bar Admission

Juris Doctor (JD)

Our JD program is designed to train students in those qualities which distinguish the educated lawyer, whether engaged in the practice of law, in government service or elsewhere.

Among the qualities stressed are an understanding of the process of ensuring order in a complex and evolving society, precision of thought, an appreciation of the use of the English language in writing and speaking, thoroughness, and the avoidance of superficiality.

The regular program requires the full-time attendance of students. In the first year all subjects are prescribed; in second and third year most subjects are optional. Second and third-year students must complete between 29-31 credit hours, including a major paper writing requirement, each year.


Length of program

The full-time program extends over three academic years, from September to May. A student who has failed the work of a year may, subject to the limitations of space, be readmitted, but the program must be completed in four academic years. Any academic session in which a student has registered and has not formally withdrawn by the date of the first fall term examination constitutes an academic year. Where a student establishes, to the satisfaction of the Committee on Studies, that for medical or personal reasons, ability to pursue the class was significantly hampered, the Committee on Studies may rule that a student has not used up one of the four academic years.

Scope of work

The policy of maintaining fairly small classes reflects the nature of teaching at the law school. Classes are conducted by the case method or otherwise but with emphasis upon discussion between teacher and students, based upon assigned materials and topics that students are expected to have considered in advance. Research and written assignments are required of all students. These may involve substantial time in addition to regular class periods. The work submitted is carefully examined and then critically assessed by the teacher and, whenever possible, a detailed criticism is provided. In addition to class and writing requirements all students are required to participate in mooting exercises.

First year

Required courses in first year (all compulsory)

LAWS 1000
Contracts and Judicial Decision-making

This class will help you achieve two primary objectives: understanding how the common law process developed through judicial decisions, and knowing how the doctrines and precepts of the law governing contracts are created and upheld. The “case method” of teaching helps you acquire a lawyer-like understanding of various legal concepts. You’ll undertake a critical evaluation of judicial law-making by examining legislative intervention in the field of contract law. You’ll also examine the substantive rules of contract law.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1001
Criminal Justice: The Individual and the State

Relationships among the state, individuals, and communities are considered in the context of Canadian criminal law. You’ll investigate the legal rights provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, selected topics in criminal procedure, and the principles of the substantive (or general part of) criminal law. In lectures and discussions, you’ll use various materials including a volume of cases and the Criminal Code, which is used to illustrate methods and problems of statutory interpretation.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1003
Fundamentals of Public Law

This class provides students with an understanding of the constitutional and administrative structures of Canadian law and government. An emphasis is placed on developing the skills required of lawyers whose public law work may range from appearances before administrative tribunals, to giving advice on the formulation and articulation of policy. Primary among the emphasized skills is the ability to work with and interpret constitutional, statutory and regulatory texts. A perspective on the administrative model of decision making will also be developed. As a necessary background for the development of these skills and for the general study of law, this class introduces students to the Canadian governmental and constitutional system. Students will explore the legislative process, statutory interpretation, and the administrative system using human rights legislation as a model. Further, students will develop an understanding of the analytical framework of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, through the study of the interpretation and development of equality rights.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1004
Legal Research and Writing

This class has three objectives. The first is to introduce students to the process of legal research and to provide a basic understanding of primary legal materials and secondary sources of legal information in both print and digital form. The second is to provide students with the basic skills of legal writing and legal citation. The third objective is to introduce students to the technique of applying legal authorities to the solution of legal problems. The class is conducted by lectures, research assignments based on hypothetical fact situations and assigned readings.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1002
Orientation To Law

The objective of the class is to orient students to the study of law by introducing them to four fundamental perspectives in the law: the comparative, the historical, the philosophical and the professional. Within each perspective several Faculty members will lecture, both to convey information deemed essential and to give a sense of the variety and contingency within each perspective. Mandatory readings will be presented in advance by each faculty speaker.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1005
Property in its Historical Context

The purpose of this class is two-fold: first, to provide a basic understanding of property concepts and principles in both real and personal property; second, to provide a sense of the historical development of the law of property.

This class introduces the student to the concept of property, its evolution, types and fundamental principles. It illustrates ideas such as possession and ownership by reference to the law of finders and bailment and to various transactions in which land or goods are the common denominators. It also explores the doctrines of aboriginal title and the principles of real property, including tenure, estates, future interests, matrimonial property, private and public controls on land use, the registry system and adverse possession.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1006
Tort Law and Damage Compensation

The major objective of this course is to provide a basic understanding of the manner in which losses from injuries to personal, proprietary and economic interests are distributed through tort law. Attention will also be given to other methods of compensating for such losses, and to the relative merits of tort law vis-à-vis these alternative schemes. Materials to be studied include cases, appropriate legislation and doctrinal writings related to the problems of tort law and damage compensation in a diverse society.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1008
Introduction to Legal Ethics and The Regulation of the Legal Profession

This course has three objectives. First, it will start students on a journey of development of their ethical identity as lawyers. Second, it will introduce students to the core ethical values and principles governing Canadian lawyers. Third, it will provide an overview of the regulatory regime for the Canadian legal profession.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 1009
Aboriginal and Indigenous Law in Context

This course provides an introduction to both Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Law, and the historical and contemporary context that is fundamental to understanding these areas of law. Aboriginal law refers to “settler law”, that is, the law made by Canadian legislatures and courts that applies to Aboriginal peoples, and embodies all situations where the Aboriginal status of an individual or group may impact the legal outcome, or the process leading to a legal outcome. Indigenous laws and legal traditions (e.g. Mi’kmaq law) comprise the legal orders of specific indigenous communities. Indigenous societies used these laws to govern themselves prior to contact with Europeans and many continue to do so today. Along with the common law and civil law traditions, Indigenous legal orders are, therefore, among Canada’s distinctive founding legal traditions. 

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

Second year

Required courses in second year

LAWS 2061
Civil Procedure

Civil Procedure is a required second-year class canvassing the civil court system, commencing proceedings, pleading, motions and affidavits, territorial jurisdiction and convenient forum, standing, limitation of actions, suing the government, joinder of parties and claims, discovery, dispositions without trial, trials, orders and enforcement, appeals, costs, class proceedings, alternative dispute resolution and case management. Students will also take part in small practical workshops instructed by civil litigation practitioners which focus on drafting and advocacy using a hypothetical case.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 2201
Compulsory Moot

The second-year compulsory moot program is a full-year, mandatory class for all second-year students. You’ll learn written and oral advocacy through both a written factum and an oral advocacy exercise. In the fall term, you’ll be required to prepare and submit an Appeal Court Factum, which must adhere to procedural rules as set out in the Law School's Moot Court Manual.

In the winter term, you’ll then be required to present an oral moot based on your written submissions before a panel of three Court of Appeal Justices. The Compulsory Moot class is worth a total of 1 credit hour and is evaluated on a pass/fail/honour basis. If you perform exceptionally well during your second-year moots, you may be nominated for the Smith Shield Mooting Competition, held in October of the following academic year.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

LAWS 2062
Constitutional Law

This required 2nd year class concerns itself with three main themes; the distribution of powers under the Constitution Act 1867, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Aboriginal rights. This will follow from the basic introduction to and foundation for the class laid during first year by the class in Public Law. The class makes an effort to integrate division of powers, Charter and Aboriginal rights discussion to highlight both points of overlap and points of departure. Throughout the class emphasis will be placed on the roles of the constitution in our governmental structure and of the courts as its elaborator and guardian, and on constitutional litigation as a problem-solving process through which fundamental values are examined.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.


Second-year or third-year required course

LAWS 2099
The Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility

This required 3rd year class examines various aspects of the nature and organization of the legal profession in Canada, including its history and evolution, the legal and ethical responsibilities of lawyers and the influences of the adversary system on the pursuit of justice. In particular, the class covers specific ethical rules which affect all lawyers in their practices and also the wider public protection issues which face the organized legal profession. The class will be conducted by lectures and discussions involving the whole class (1 hour per week) and by small group discussions (1 hour per week). These will include special presentations, simulations and problem-solving projects. Serious attention will be given to dilemmas facing lawyers and the legal profession today.

Prerequisites: Second or Third Year Required Course


Explore your options for other second and third-year courses.

Other requirements

  • Students must complete a minimum of 29 and a maximum of 31 credit hours per year (12 to 17.5 credits per term). A student enrolled in the clinical class in criminal law may take 17 hours in the term in which the clinical class is taken. This is also true of the Legal Aid Clinic, with permission of the clinic director.
  • Students must complete at least 1 course designated as a major paper course.

Third year


Explore your options for other second and third-year courses.

Other requirements

  • Students must complete a minimum of 29 and a maximum of 31 credit hours per year (12 to 17 credits per term). A student enrolled in the clinical class in criminal law may take 17 hours in the term in which the clinical class is taken. This is also true of the Legal Aid Clinic, with permission of the clinic director.
  • Students must complete at least 1 course designated as a major paper course.

Bar admission

Nova Scotia

Under the Rules and Regulations of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, a student seeking admission to the Bar of Nova Scotia must serve under articles of clerkship with a practising solicitor for a period of twelve consecutive months after receiving a degree in Law from Dalhousie or any other approved University. Students are also required to complete the Bar Admission Course, and to pass examinations given during the Course.

Students who complete a period of articles in another province may apply to the Credentials Committee of the Barristers' Society for credit towards the twelve-month requirement.

Other provinces

In other provinces of Canada where the common law system is in effect the degree of JD from Dalhousie is recognized as fulfilling academic qualifications and as preparation for practical training for admission to the Bar. Information concerning particular elective classes recommended by the law society of a Province for inclusion in a student's class of studies is available from the Career Development Office.

Provincial Bar Requirements

Each province in Canada has different requirements for admission to the Bar. See the Career Development Office website for more information on Provincial Bar Requirements.