FAQs
  1. Why is the building called Osgoode Hall?
  2. When was Osgoode Hall built?
  3. Where is Osgoode Hall Law School?
  4. Why is the Law Society called the Law Society of Upper Canada?
  5. How many lawyers and paralegals are there in Ontario?
  6. Are judges members of the Law Society?
  7. Does the Law Society govern all Canadian lawyers and independent paralegals?
  8. The courtrooms at Osgoode Hall are different from the ones I have seen on television. Where do the accused and the witnesses sit in the courtrooms? Where are the gavels?
  9. I have heard that Osgoode Hall is haunted. Is that true?
  10. I would like information on the architecture of Osgoode Hall.
  11. Who was the first woman admitted to the legal profession?
  12. Looking for the files of a particular lawyer or law firm?
  13. Looking for published reports of court decisions?
  14. Looking for records related to the courts, e.g.: trial transcripts and judicial decisions?

FAQs
  1. Why is the building called Osgoode Hall?

    Osgoode Hall is named for William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of what is now the province of Ontario. Osgoode was in Upper Canada from 1792 to 1794, three years before the creation of the Law Society and long before the building was erected. The Law Society wished to honour him for his contribution to the establishment of the early judicial structures of the province.

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  2. When was Osgoode Hall built?

    Osgoode Hall was not built all at once. It comprises many additions, each with their own construction date. The oldest portion of the building dates from 1829, the youngest from 1991.

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  3. Where is Osgoode Hall Law School?

    Osgoode Hall Law School was started in Osgoode Hall in 1889. Until 1957, OHLS was the only official law school in Ontario. Some universities had law faculties but one could not be called to the bar without going through Osgoode Hall Law School. Many additions to the building were constructed to accommodate the law school. The Law School moved to York University in 1968.

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  4. Why is the Law Society called the Law Society of Upper Canada?

    Upper Canada was the name for what is roughly Ontario in the days when the Law Society was created. Quebec was called Lower Canada. The words “upper” and “lower” refer to the position of the provinces on the St. Lawrence River. There has been talk of changing the name of the Law Society on a number of occasions, but so far the Society has chosen to retain the name it was given by statute in 1797.

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  5. How many lawyers and paralegals are there in Ontario?

    The Law Society of Upper Canada is the largest law society in Canada, with almost 50,000 lawyer licensees (49,048 as of November 25, 2015 with 24,417 in private practice; 13,931 otherwise employed (education, government, etc.); 10,700 not employed in Ontario (retired, outside of Ontario, etc.)). 28,706 lawyers are male and 20,342 are female. Women were first allowed to become barristers in Ontario in 1897. When Clara Brett Martin was admitted, the Law Society was the first such body to admit women to its ranks in the British Commonwealth. Women were slow to join at first. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the number of women in the legal profession increased significantly.

    As of November 25, 2015 there were 7,473 paralegal licensees (2,891 male and 4,582 females) in Ontario.


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  6. Are judges members of the Law Society?

    Although one has to be a lawyer to become a judge, upon appointment, judges become “members in abeyance.” They remain on the books of the Law Society but they are not allowed to practice or vote on Law Society issues until they resign or retire from the Bench.

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  7. Does the Law Society govern all Canadian lawyers and independent paralegals?

    The Law Society is responsible only for Ontario lawyers and paralegals. Each province or territory has its own law society (or equivalent).

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  8. The courtrooms at Osgoode Hall are different from the ones I have seen on television. Where do the accused and the witnesses sit in the courtrooms? Where are the gavels?

    The Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court are the highest courts of the province of Ontario. They do not conduct trials; they review decisions that have been made by lower courts.Normally there is no witness testimony at appellate hearings, nor does the accused appear. Hearings are based on court transcripts.

    Canadian judges don’t use gavels nor do they wear wigs.


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  9. I have heard that Osgoode Hall is haunted. Is that true?

    Well…one can never be sure about things such as ghosts. A number of people have died in the building, violently or otherwise, and there are a number of ghost stories “floating” around. If ghosts exist, given the age of the buildingand its history, we probably have a few.

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  10. I would like information on the architecture of Osgoode Hall.

    Before you call to make an appointment with our Archives staff, you should know that there are some good secondary sources on Osgoode Hall. Try Eric Arthur's Toronto, No Mean City and MacRae and Adamson's Cornerstones of Order, Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1983. Other useful sources include Harold Karmon's A History of Canadian Architecture, Geoffrey Simmins’ Fred Cumberland: Building the Canadian Dream. You should be able to find these at your public library.

    Most of the architectural plans in the Law Society Archives are from the 20th century. For 19th century plans and drawings, contact the  Archives of Ontario at (416) 327-1600 or 1-800-668-9933 (Ontario only) or  by email at reference@ontario.ca.


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  11. Who was the first woman admitted to the legal profession?

    Clara Brett Martin was the first woman admitted as a barrister in the British Commonwealth. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1897. See Crossing the Bar.

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  12. Looking for the files of a particular lawyer or law firm?

    Your first step would be to contact the Client Service Centre at (416) 947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext. 3315 (Ontario only), or by e-mail at lawsociety@lsuc.on.ca.

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  13. Looking for published reports of court decisions?

    Recent Canadian case law can be found on the Canadian Legal Information Insitute (CanLII) Web site, a resource funded by the Law Society's licensees.  Law Society staff in the Great Library can help you find older Canadian decisions as well as decisions from courts, boards, and tribunals not included in CanLII.

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  14. Looking for records related to the courts, e.g.: trial transcripts and judicial decisions?

    The Law Society Archives does not collect court records. Try the Archives of Ontario at (416) 327-1600 or 1-800-668-9933.

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