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A law school experience designed for working professionals

November 23, 2023


The part-time Graduate Diploma in Foundations of Canadian Law – which launched in the Fall of 2023 – is designed for working professionals without formal legal training to gain a firm grounding in the basic principles underlying public and private law in Canada.

The program is a natural counterpart to the existing full-time version of the graduate diploma, which has quickly established itself as a popular option for internationally trained lawyers seeking a bridge to further study in one of OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM courses or as a precursor to practice in Canada.

However, the new part-time version opens up opportunities to a whole new population of working professionals who want to fit the program in around their job.

In the modern workplace, it’s hard to ascend the ranks without encountering legal issues in some form or other. Policy and compliance questions are often top of mind for professionals in the finance, telecommunications, health and energy sectors, among others. But even outside these heavily regulated industries, those in management positions are often expected to deal with contracts and commercial transactions as part of their responsibilities.

Meghan Thomas, OsgoodePD’s Director of Professional Graduate & International Programs says the new part-time graduate diploma will give early-career professionals the confidence to tackle legal issues head-on, regardless of their line of business – serving as a kind of middle ground between learning on the job and starting from scratch in a full law degree program.

“This graduate diploma is going to be very valuable to people who are seeing these legal issues pop up in their work,” Thomas says. “When you gain that fundamental legal understanding, it’s going to make you perform better the next time you’re doing a negotiation, discussing a contract or dealing with the breakdown of an employment or business relationship.” 

While many of OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM programs appeal to seasoned experts in particular legal niches, Thomas explains that the part-time Foundations of Canadian Law graduate diploma is a good option for younger professionals looking to pivot to more regulatory or compliance-focused roles.

Required courses in the part-time graduate diploma – which is generally completed over the course of 16 months, or four academic terms – will give students an introduction to public and private law in Canada, as well as building their legal writing, research and analysis skills.

In contrast to the full-time Foundations of Canadian Law graduate diploma, the part-time version allows for a distance learning option, with synchronous two-way video streaming allowing remote learning students to interact seamlessly in class discussions with their peers on-site at OsgoodePD’s downtown Toronto headquarters.

But the flexibility of the part-time graduate diploma is not limited to the mode of learning delivery. Students are able to customize their course load, while six of the 18 credits necessary for completion of the graduate diploma are earned in a combination of elective courses chosen from OsgoodePD’s extensive academic offering – giving students a chance to tailor their studies to their particular personal and professional interests.

“We’ve got 15+ specializations, so there is something for everyone, no matter which area of the law they are interested in,” Thomas says.

In their earlier terms, part-time Foundations of Canadian Law graduate diploma students will take most of their classes with other working professionals in their cohort, as well as members of the full-time program – whose large international contingent lends itself to comparative discussions contrasting legal approaches across jurisdictions.  

Elective courses are generally shared with students in OsgoodePD’s various Professional LLM programs, who include lawyers in private practice, in-house counsel, government lawyers, as well as accountants and other senior non-legal professionals.

In all cases, OsgoodePD’s small class sizes allow students to maximize their engagement with both their instructors and their classmates.

“They will get a nice flavour of the huge network of people that we have in our programs,” Thomas says.

Want to learn more about the part-time Graduate Diploma in Foundations of Canadian Law? Sign up for an Information Session!