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Growth and renewal at Faculty of Law

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The start of the 2015-16 academic year sees the arrival of 202 JD students to the Faculty of Law at Queen's University. (Photo by Jesse Garcia)

It’s a time of continuing growth and renewal for the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University.

The start of the 2015-16 academic year sees the arrival of 202 JD students to Queen’s Law with women (52 per cent) and men (48 per cent) in almost even numbers – and 31 international exchange students from around the globe.

Sir John A. Macdonald Hall also is taking on a new look with a major renovation of its ground floor scheduled for completion in October. The Learning Commons will occupy a 6,000 sq. ft. space formerly taken up by hundreds of shelves of archived magazines. The Learning Commons will offer a dedicated study space, complete with modular furniture, graduate student offices and breakout rooms for mooting and small-group meetings.

The excitement surrounding the potential of the space is clear.

“Previously there was limited study space on the main floor. Now the entire space is devoted to student study and work spaces. One of the key things students really wanted was more room for competitive moot preparation and group study work,” says Dean Bill Flanagan. “The environment we are creating is all about facilitating academic exchange and offering a diversity of space to accommodate the many ways in which our students learn.”

Other renovations include the moot courtroom while the fifth floor has been repainted and partially renovated as well.

A new course has also been added to the first-year curriculum – Introduction to Legal Skills. Taught by seasoned lecturers and practicing lawyers, the course is designed as an introduction into the legal profession, and a starting point for building the skills necessary to be a successful lawyer – including legal professionalism and ethics, the roles of lawyers, judges and the rule of law, legal reasoning and research, legal writing, oral advocacy, and an introduction into basic lawyering skills.

Introduction to Legal Skills is part of the Queen’s Law pilot of Queen’s new OnQ digital teaching platform. It will be taught as a blended course – 50% of the course will be delivered online, with the other half in plenary lectures and tutorials.

Some other law courses are also being used to explore and innovate on the OnQ platform, with total conversion planned for next year.

“Blended learning is new for us,” says Dean Flanagan. “It's a very exciting initiative and it's really catching on among the faculty as an option to innovate in teaching. We also offered Law 201 as an online course this summer which was our first offering online.”