The University of Houston Law Center and the University of Calgary Faculty of Law plan to launch a program that will allow students to obtain U.S. and Canadian law degrees in four years.
The International Energy Lawyers Program, as the initiative is called, will focus on preparing students to practice natural resources, energy and environmental law. Students will not have to study energy law specifically, but administrators expect that many participants will want to, given that Houston and Calgary are hubs of the energy industry. Intellectual property is another area that might appeal to students considering a cross-border practice, said Houston Dean Raymond Nimmer.
Students will spend two years at each law school and will be eligible to receive American and Canadian juris doctor degrees. They then will be eligible to sit for bar examinations in both countries. The program will shave two years off the time it typically would take to obtain separate law degrees in the United States and Canada. The program will kick off in the fall.
"This is just the beginning of a collaboration that will extend beyond this program between two of the best law schools and two energy capitals of North America," Nimmer said.
Only a handful of similar cross-border law school collaborations exist, including a partnership between the University of Colorado Law School and the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. According to Nimmer, the Houston-Calgary curriculum will be flexible; students will have to complete certain core courses in both countries, including constitutional law, but the rest of their courses would be electives, allowing them to explore their own interests.
To participate, students will have to win admission to both law schools separately, Nimmer said. They may choose to split their time between the campuses however they choose. He expects to enroll between five and 10 students per year; they will pay the same annual tuition as their counterparts in the schools' regular J.D. programs.
"Our two countries' futures are intertwined economically, and one of the most important issues facing both countries is energy security," Calgary Dean Ian Holloway said. "Training the next generation of lawyers who are leaders in energy and natural resources law will help us in our quest for sustainable, rational, continental energy policy."