04/17/2014 11:50 EDT | Updated 06/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Trinity Western law school could face new law society vote

The fight against Trinity Western University's plans to open Canada's first faith-based law school isn't over, CBC News has learned.

Victoria criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan is attempting to trigger a rare special general meeting to overturn a decision by the law society to accredit the controversial school last week.

Mulligan believes the vast majority of lawyers take issue with the university's covenant banning "intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."

Critics say the school's Christian covenant essentially bans anyone in a gay relationship from enrolling in the school.

Mulligan says the school's covenant is at odds with a core principle of the lawyer's oath to uphold the rights and freedoms of all according to the law.

"It's apparent that the policies of the university are viewed almost universally as discriminatory and inappropriate," says Mulligan.               

Late yesterday, Mulligan began sending out emails to lawyers across the province urging them to sign a request for a special general meeting.

If his request gets 550 signatures, representing five per cent of the law society members, that would to trigger a special general meeting, the first in more than a decade, according to Mulligan.

At that special general meeting a vote by a simple majority could overturn the decision to accredit the school. Mulligan says benchers of the law society would then have a year to change their position or trigger a binding referendum.

Last week, the benchers of the Law Society of B.C. voted 20 to six to accredit the law school, which is planning to start classes for 60 students in 2016.

Law as a higher calling

At the law society hearing last week, school officials argued the faith component would add a unique dimension to legal education. .

"While there are law schools at Christian universities in other parts of the world, Trinity Western will be the first in Canada. By developing legal studies within a framework of servant leadership, the TWU law program will train lawyers with a focus on community service," said the school in a statement after the vote.

"Students will be encouraged to see the profession of law as a high calling of service, and to volunteer with local, national, and global NGO’s that serve underdeveloped nations and the vulnerable."

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.

Read the letter from Michael Mulligan