The Faculty of Graduate Studies handbook at my Canadian university provides clear guidelines for what supervisors and committees are expected to do. The supervisor in question has been delinquent with respect to many of these guidelines. Administration is resisting replacing him, possibly because the path of least resistance for them is to assume things will work out in time.

My understanding is that, while the courts in Canada do not generally adjudicate academic issues (quality of academic work, etc) they have in some cases treated the handbook and regulations at the time of enrolment as a contract between the student and the university. What sort of lawyer or practice would be appropriate (if any) to explore outside avenues for a remedy in the form of a new supervisor, which is allowed by the regulations, but not preferred by administration because it's a paperwork nightmare for them?


This is a matter of contract law, so that's the kind of lawyer you want, but since universities operate under federal charter (except for University Nuhelotʼįne Thaiyotsʼį Nistameyimâkanak) this intersects with federal law. You would be arguing that you have done what you are supposed to do under the terms of that contract, but the university has failed to perform its obligations. The first thing that has to be determined is whether you have done what is required of you, with respect to the grievance procedure. Assuming that you have filed an official grievance, then it is likely that there will have been an investigation. You say they are "resisting", which does not say whether they are still negotiating with you, or have they actually refused to give you what you want. If the latter, then your lawyer would tell you whether there is a realistic hope of prevailing in a lawsuit (or would you just be wasting time and money). Courts do not generally substitute their judgment for that of universities, unless the university's process is clearly in error. If the former, your attorney could perhaps persuade the administration to do something to avoid getting sued.

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