JD/JID Program Overview

Professors John Borrows and Sarah Morales discuss how the program is taught transystemically and give an example of how Indigenous law is drawn from the land during an Indigenous Law info session in March 2020:


The JD/JID is a four-year program which combines classroom learning with field studies conducted in collaboration with Indigenous communities. Students will obtain the full content of UVic’s Common Law degree (JD), together with greatly enhanced skills to work productively with Indigenous legal orders.

Important elements of the program, especially core first-year subjects, will be taught intersocietally/transsystemically – through intensive, mutually-illuminating comparison in courses that deal with Canadian law and one or more Indigenous legal traditions. The credit weight of those courses will be increased to make room for the comparative treatment. Two of what are, in the JD curriculum, first-year subjects will be studied in second year.

One compulsory upper-year course, Coast Salish Legal Studies, will introduce the legal tradition of this region, using legal categories drawn from that tradition and exploring how those categories are related to concepts within Coast Salish languages. Upper-year courses, elective and compulsory, will be drawn from the JD curriculum and newly-created specialized courses designed to complement the JD/JID.

A crucial dimension of the program is its field schools. Students devote one full term in each of their third and fourth years to study in Indigenous contexts. Under close academic supervision, students learn from community-based experts on a particular Indigenous people’s legal order, observe the ways in which Indigenous legal processes are being employed today, and work with the community on law-related projects. The study will be sufficient for students to acquire an understanding of the institutions, sources of law, forms of reasoning, principles, and procedures particular to that Indigenous people’s law.

The program cannot, of course, provide comprehensive training in every North American legal order. The program does work with a sampling of Indigenous legal traditions chosen to address the three categories of North American Indigenous peoples: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The JD/JID program courses will introduce students to a range of areas of law of Indigenous peoples: governance, responses to harms and injuries, child welfare, familial responsibility, land tenure, land management, and others.

The course structure for the four-year program is:

First Year 
Mandatory Courses (14.5 – 15.5 units):

  • LAW 100I: Transsystemic Constitutional Law (3.5-4.0 units) or LAW 100 Constitutional Law Process (3.0 units)
  • LAW 102I: Transsystemic Criminal Law (2.5-4.0 units) or LAW 102 The Criminal Law Process (2.0 units)
  • LAW 104: Law, Legislation and Policy (1.5 units)
  • LAW 107I: Transsystemic Property Law (2.5-4.0 units) or LAW 107 Property (2.0 units)
  • LAW 112I: Transsystemic Legal Processes, Research and Writing (3 units)

 Second Year
Mandatory Courses (4-6 units):

  • LAW 105I: Transsystemic Contracts (2.5-3.0 units) or LAW 105 Contracts (2.0 units)
  • LAW 109I: Transsystemic Torts (2.5-3.0 units) or LAW 109 Torts (2.0 units)

Electives Courses (8.5-10.5 units)

 Third Year
Mandatory Course (7.5 units):

  • LAW 350I: Indigenous Field Study Level l (7.5 units)

Electives Courses (7-9 units) 

Fourth Year 
Mandatory Course (7.5 units)

  • LAW 450I: Indigenous Field Study Level ll (7.5 units) 

Electives Courses (7-9 units)

Second, Third or Fourth Year: 
Mandatory Courses:

  • LAW 301I: Transsystemic Administrative Law (2.5-3.0 units) or LAW 301 Administrative Law Process (2.0 units)
  • LAW 315I: Transsystemic Business Associations (2.5-3.0 units)
  • LAW 360: Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (1.5 units)
  • LAW 390: Major Paper Requirement (0 units) 
  • LAW 395I: Coast Salish Legal Studies and Language (2.0 units)