McGill’s Faculty of Law & the Inception of University-based Legal Education in Canada


Chancellor Day Hall Maxwell Cohen Moot Court (NCDH 100), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The James McGill Society and the Faculty of Law of McGill University invite you to a talk by Librarian Emeritus John Hobbins about McGill’s Faculty of Law & the Inception of University-based Legal Education in Canada.


Prior to the 1850s, legal training in Canada was received largely through apprenticeship. While this remained true for Upper Canada until the late 1950s, university-based legal education began a century earlier in Lower Canada at McGill College.

In fact, informal law lectures were being held at McGill College as early as 1829, but McGill's Faculty of Law wasn't officially created until 1848, as a response to a petition from 23 young men who had been studying independently for the Quebec Bar, and wanted their work rewarded with a formal legal degree.

John Hobbins, BA'66, MLS'68, Librarian Emeritus and a Past-President of the James McGill Society, was formerly head of the Nahum Gelber Law Library. He is currently working on a history of McGill’s Faculty of Law.

About the James McGill Society

The James McGill Society was formed in 1975. Its primary concern is to foster interest and appreciation of McGill University's history and personalities, which are interpreted broadly to include current activities and impending developments - that is both past history and history in the making.

The Society covers the entire spectrum of McGill life: academic and research activities, student life, and administrative activities. Arts, Science, Medicine, and all the other faculties have been discussed in rotation over the years. Macdonald College is an area of continuing interest.

The Society meets four or five times a year, usually on Mondays.

Also: History of McGill Project website.

Contact Information

Susan Button
President, James McGill Society
susan.button [at]
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-7249