Faculty of Law

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This entry is currently under development. Please do not consider the entry authoritative until it has been completed.

Lord Beaverbrook with UNB faculty members and guests on the steps of the Bonar Law-Bennett Library. Acc. 2010.05; Series 1; Item no. 126, File 7

Previously named: King's College Law School

Established: 1892 (as King’s College Law School); 1923 (as Faculty of Law)


The Faculty of Law was established in 1892 in Saint John, and was associated with the King’s College of Windsor, Nova Scotia. It was therefore referred to as the King’s College Law School. At the time of its opening, it was a part-time school that offered a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) degree, which was developed after the Oxford model. At this time, all law schools were part-time as their professors were members of the Supreme Court and barristers who worked during the day, and so only had time to teach in the afternoons or evenings. In 1923, King’s College in Windsor burned down, and so King’s College looked to move to Halifax, where Dalhousie University was. Dalhousie University would not accept the move as long as King’s College had a Law School because Dalhousie already had their own Law program. So when King’s College amalgamated with Dalhousie in the same year, it left the King’s College Law School orphaned. The Law School was then reconstituted as the Faculty of Law by the University of New Brunswick, becoming the Faculty of Law of UNB. The Faculty of Law remained in Saint John, even though UNB’s primary location was Fredericton.

In 1950, the Faculty of Law was under the deanship of the Hon. W. Henry Harrison, and had but two full-time professors, George A. McAllister, and William F. Ryan (most of the instruction was still conducted by members of the Supreme Court and practicing barristers). Both professors were against the Faculty’s separation from the Fredericton campus, and it was in this year that McAllister wrote to Lord Beaverbrook, UNB’s chancellor, strongly encouraging a move of the Faculty to the Fredericton campus. Lord Beaverbrook had personal interest in the Faculty, as he had been a student in the Faculty for a short period of time around 1900. However, he refused to directly respond to McAllister’s proposal, as he didn’t want to “express any opinion about the relative merits of Saint John and Fredericton.” One of the most prominent reasons for complaint was that the Saint John Law library had insufficient resources to facilitate the proper study of law. As a way to make up for this, Lord Beaverbrook gave the Faculty new quarters in the Saint John, called the Beaverbrook House, in 1953. The Beaverbrook House contained a library of over 9,000 volumes, lecture rooms, seminar rooms, and common rooms. Certainly it was an improvement on the Faculty’s resources. Consequently, class enrollment went up by about 5 students, but remained small in numbers for the next several years, when enrollment hovered around the high 20s. It became clear that interest in the faculty would remain low if kept in Saint John, so a move to Fredericton was again strongly recommended, this time by Chief Justice McNair. President of the university, Colin B. Mackay, agreed that a move would be beneficial, but needed the support of the chancellor, Lord Beaverbrook. Lord Beaverbrook consented in the fall of 1958 and, with his blessing, it was decided that courses in Law would begin to be taught in Fredericton in the fall of 1959. Beaverbrook offered his residence, Somerville House on Waterloo Road, as the temporary location for the Faculty. In September, the 4 full-time faculty and 27 law students moved into Somerville House, bringing their 9,000 volumes with them. The move was successful in elevating the Faculty of Law’s profile, as in 1960 enrollment was the highest to date. Also in 1960, the James Dunn Foundation began awarding seven renewable scholarships at $1500 a year; at the time these scholarships were the best in Canada. Mackay commented that the scholarships “marked a turning point in legal education in New Brunswick.” A year later, in 1962, Lady Beaverbrook agreed to be the Rector of the Faculty of Law, and this was seen as a step forward for the faculty as well; she resigned in 1965 as she felt no longer capable of holding the position. As a result of rising enrollment, in 1967 Sir Max Aitken donated $1 million on behalf of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation for a new, larger law school on the Fredericton campus. The building was completed in the fall of 1968 and named Ludlow Hall after George Duncan Ludlow, New Brunswick’s first Chief Justice. After building was completed, though, it was discovered that UNB didn’t have the funds to furnish Ludlow Hall, so Max Aitken donated more money. On October 12, 1984, a new addition to Ludlow Hall, the Gerard V. La Forest Law Library (often shortened to the Law Library), was officially opened. It was named for the Hon. Mr. Justice Gerard V. La Forest, Justice of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal and of the Supreme Court of Canada.

When the Faculty of Law was established in 1892, the program led to the attainment of a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) degree. This model prevailed for several years, and did not change when the faculty became part of UNB. Prior to 1923, students of UNB who had taken four courses in Law in Fredericton during their third and fourth years were permitted to go on to either the law school of Dalhousie at Halifax, or King’s College at Saint John and would graduate in two years with a degree in Law. Starting in 1924, the year after the faculty became part of UNB, the opportunity arose for students to take their first year of the Law degree in Fredericton, and to complete the rest of the degree in Saint John. The courses required for the first year of the Law degree could be taken as elective subjects in the third and fourth years of the Arts Course; there were six Law courses in total that were required for the first year. This option was available for almost four decades, until a change in regulation governing admission of students-at-law elsewhere in Canada occurred in 1959. This new regulation required students to have completed three years of Arts prior to admission to the Law Degree program. Therefore, any courses taken in Law before fourth year were not able to be applied to the first year of the Law degree program. The result was students had no choice but to take both their first and second year at the Saint John location. Law courses could still be taken at the Fredericton campus, but these were now only a means for one to experience what Law entailed and to decide if it was something they wanted to pursue. Another change in the course program occurred in 1970, when the Bachelor of Civil Law degree was replaced with the Bachelor of Laws degree (LL B). The change was in response to the granting of the LL B becoming normal practice in North America, and included the introduction of several new elective Law courses. Most of the compulsory Law courses were to be taken in the first and second years, so students had the opportunity to specialize in the elective of their choosing in the final year of their program; this is still largely the case. Around 2012, the Law program was changed again; the LL B was replaced by the Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

The Faculty of Law is involved with several special events, programs, and extra-curricular activities. For example, the annual Moot Court Competition was inaugurated in 1962. Whichever team that better demonstrates skill in appellate advocacy is to be awarded the Harrison Shield Award in memory of William Henry Harrison, a former Justice of the Supreme Court and Dean of Law 1947-1955. Another example is the student-run University of New Brunswick Law Journal, which was first published in 1947, making it one of the oldest student-run legal publications in Canada. The journal is devoted to the consideration of current legal issues, articles of philosophies, research notes, comments and reviews. Yet another of these is an exchange program, where upper year students could take up to two terms at another law faculty, including one of the institutions that UNB has an exchange program with: University of Maine in Portland, USA, Aarhus in Denmark, Macquarie in Australia, and Umea in Sweden.

Physical location: Ludlow Hall


  • 1892-1902 - Dr. Allen O. Earle
  • 1902-1916 - Dr. Silas Alward
  • 1916-1924 - the Hon. H. A. McKeown
  • 1924-1938 - Sir J. Douglas Hazen
  • 1938-1946 - Hon. J. B. M. Baxter
  • 1947-1955 - Hon. Mr. Justice William Henry Harrison
  • 1955-1972 - William F. Ryan
  • 1972-1975 - George A. McAllister (Acting)
  • 1975-1979 - A. M. Sinclair
  • 1979-1980 - Richard W. Bird (Acting)
  • 1980-1985 - Edward Veitch
  • 1985-1992 - Karl J. Dore
  • 1992-1997 - H. Wade MacLauchlan
  • 1997-2004 - Anne La Forest
  • 2001-2002 - Brian Bruce (Acting)
  • 2004-2010 - Philip L. Bryden
  • 2010-2012 - Ian Peach
  • 2012-present - John Williamson



  • D. Bell (personal communication, November 5, 2014).
  • Bell, David. Legal education in New Brunswick: a history. Fredericton: Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick, 1992.
  • McGahan, Peter. The “Quiet Campus”: A History of the University of New Brunswick in Saint John 1959-1969. Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1998.
  • MGH 156; Cases 10, 111, 127.
  • UNB Calendars (UA RG 86), 1923- 1924, 1958- 1959, 1959- 1960, 1969- 1970.

© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014