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New clinic director to cultivate business law partnerships

Tomi Adebiyi aims to enhance clinic's reputation for providing exceptional legal services to small businesses, non-profit organizations, and the growing innovation sector.

Tomi Adebiyi
New Queen's Business Law Clinic director Tomi Adebiyi looks forward to enhancing experiential learning opportunities for students and to building relationships with more community organizations that will help budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the Kingston area. (Photo by Greg Black)

After only 10 months of supervising students who serve start-ups and entrepreneurs, Tomi Adebiyi has taken the helm at the Queen's Business Law Clinic. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Adebiyi practised with one of her home country’s leading business law firms for three years before completing an LLM in corporate/commercial law at McGill University. After her 2015 graduation, she worked in different capacities with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and then joined the Queen's Business Law Clinic in January. 

Promoted from staff lawyer to director of the Queen's Business Law Clinic, Tomi Adebiyi speaks about her interests in business law, clinic experience and her plans for the future.

What interests you most about business law and in providing legal services to small businesses, non-profit organizations and other Queen's Business Law Clinic clients?

I have always been intrigued by business law. I was curious to understand the intersection of law and business as a law student and this influenced my decision to pursue a business law practice. I also have a strong background in pro bono service, having worked as a staff member, articling student and volunteer lawyer at a pro bono organisation in Saskatchewan. Being able to assist clients who would otherwise be unable to afford legal services has been quite a fulfilling experience for me. For many of our clients, the Queen's Business Law Clinic provides them with an invaluable opportunity to obtain excellent legal advice thereby avoiding potential mistakes that could cost their business a lot going forward. 

What did you like best about being a staff lawyer with the Queen's Business Law Clinic?

The best part of my job as a staff lawyer was supervising the student caseworkers. When I resumed in January, the student caseworkers were halfway through their time at the clinic and, at that stage, were producing substantial work for review. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing their work and advising the student caseworkers on their client files. 

This summer, I worked closely with the three Queen's Business Law Clinic summer caseworkers to provide our clients with top-quality and timely legal services. We had a great time working with clients from the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) Program run by the Dunin-Despande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC). We helped clients incorporate businesses, prepared Shareholders Agreements and advised them on their intellectual property rights. It was satisfying to watch some of our clients as they presented their ideas, and won seed funding, at the Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition.

What surprised you about working with the Queen's Business Law Clinic?

The enthusiasm and dedication of the student caseworkers, as well as the versatility of files at the clinic, was a pleasant surprise. Working with startup companies and budding entrepreneurs presents a unique opportunity for students to experience hands on some of the issues that they are unlikely to find in bigger companies. It was a pleasure to watch students wear the adviser hat as they transferred the theoretical knowledge learnt at the law school into practical advice for the benefit of their clients. 

What do you like best about your new role as Queen's Business Law Clinic director?

In addition to supervising the 24 student caseworkers at the clinic, I instruct the Queen’s Business Law Clinic course. Over the summer, I worked with Morgan Jarvis (Law’10), the previous Clinic Director, to develop an intellectually stimulating syllabus for the 2019-20 school year. As part of my supervisory role, I meet with each student caseworker monthly to discuss file work and give feedback to the student on their file work. I am also working in collaboration with our partners, the Office of Partnerships & Innovation and the DDQIC on various projects, including the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund, which is a $3.2 million fund provided by FedDev Ontario for Queen’s University. 

What are your plans for the clinic?

The Queen's Business Law Clinic is known for the provision of exceptional legal services to the Kingston area’s growing innovation ecosystem, start-ups, social enterprises, not-for-profits and charitable corporations. I look forward to continue to build up and enhance this reputation. I also look forward to enhancing the student experience at the QBLC by providing them with hands-on experiential learning opportunities throughout their year at the QBLC. We currently have a strong partnership with the DDQIC and the Office of Partnerships & Innovation and I look forward to renewing, strengthening and cultivating partnerships with other community organizations with similar goals and objectives, particularly groups focused on newcomers in Canada, budding entrepreneurs and innovators in the Kingston area. 

This article was first published by the Queen's Faculty of Law.

Putting the AI in legal aid

The Conflict Analytics Lab is developing an AI-powered tool capable of offering legal predictions to self-represented litigants along with negotiation support.

[Professor Samuel Dahan]
Samuel Dahan, a professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen's University, is also the director of the Conflict Analytics Lab.

When trying to determine how to sentence a guilty party, a judge will often look at precedent to determine an appropriate judgement. This can take time, as the judge and his or her staff pore over records and try to make a fair assessment.

But what if the technology existed to analyze hundreds, if not thousands, of similar cases quickly and build a fair judgement much faster?

Even better, what if this technology was affordable enough to be accessible in cases where hiring a lawyer was prohibitively expensive? What if you could use it when an eBay transaction goes wrong, or if you could use it even if you lived remotely and didn’t have access to a lawyer?

Enter the Intelligent Dispute Resolution System, a product of the Queen’s Law and Smith School of Business Conflict Analytics Lab. This AI-powered tool, already under development, would be capable of offering legal predictions to self-represented litigants along with negotiation support.

The “AI-Tribunal for Small Claims: Building an Intelligent Dispute Resolution System” project recently received $244,562 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to develop the first components of the pilot research: severance calculation predictive models, and an intelligent system for algorithmic employment negotiation.

“This is the core project of the Conflict Analytics Lab because it is touching upon many areas of our work: legal predictions, negotiation support, democratization of technology, and improving access to justice,” says Professor Samuel Dahan, Director of the Conflict Analytics Lab.

Dahan has partnered with Professor Yuri Levin, the Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Analytics and Executive Director of Analytics and AI with Smith School of Business; Professor Xiaodan Zhu of Queen’s Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Professor Maxime Cohen of McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Also assisting with the project are up to 15 students earning such degrees as Master of Laws, Master of Business Administration and Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence.

There are three components to the dispute resolution program – a legal component, a computer science component, and a data science component. The user inputs the relevant data into the system, and it returns a relevant suggestion. The system also learns as it works, meaning its suggestions will only improve with time and use.

The employment notice (“severance”) predictor, which the team has been working on the longest, is intended to help employees in situations where they have been terminated. By typing in their variables including industry, region, age of employee and length of employment, the system can suggest an appropriate severance amount. This means the terminated employee can use this system – without hiring an employment lawyer – to understand if they are being compensated fairly if they are let go by their employer.

While the system is beginning with employment law, Dahan sees the potential for application in small claims, family law,insurance, trademark disputes, and beyond. The only stipulations are that it must be a monetary award, and the award amount must be under $50,000.

“We are hoping to launch our first pilot project this fall – the employment notice predictor – and through a practicum course we are continuing to develop our data sets and explore new legal questions that could benefit from the application of AI,” says Dahan. “Over the next two years, we will be working with the Ontario Attorney General and the British Columbia Small Claims Tribunal to integrate this technology into their system.The idea will be to integrate the various tools, including the legal predictions, the dispute resolution, and the negotiation tool, into existing judicial procedures.”

In the future, Dahan hopes not only that people will use this tool but he hopes to hear from users who receive positive settlements and from companies who successfully integrate the platform into their online dispute resolution processes.

As Dahan puts it, “If they say, ‘you've helped us to sort out half of our customer service cases by making offers to unhappy customers, and our employees are much less overwhelmed than they used to be,’ I would call that a success.”

This article was first published on the Queen's Faculty of Law website.

International faculty and staff supports

The Human Rights & Equity Office is holding discussion sessions about developing and strengthening supports for employees coming to Queen's from abroad.

Staff and faculty participating in the first brainstorm meeting
Queen's faculty and staff participating in a brainstorming session about supports for international employees.

The Human Rights & Equity Office (HREO) recently invited international staff and faculty to engage in an initial conversation about what potential supports or groups could be created or strengthened to assist those moving from abroad for employment at Queen’s University.

A group of international faculty and staff gathered on Sept. 30 for a brainstorming session facilitated by Queen's Human Rights Advisor Nilani Loganathan, who guided the group in an exercise to begin to identify gaps in services and programs, and suggest ways that could better support international employees.

“I’m very pleased with the ideas brought forth by those who attended our first session,” says Loganathan. “We touched on a number of areas, including issues concerning relocating to Kingston, settling in at Queen’s, employment and education supports for families, and much more. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation and collecting more feedback that will best inform our path forward.”

Employees who identify as international staff and faculty will have additional opportunities to provide their input. The next session is to take place on Friday, Nov. 15 in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, B176 from 12pm – 1pm. Please email hrights@queensu.ca to confirm your attendance.

Learning, unlearning, and relearning

[Together We Are]
When Queen's Law student Lauren Winkler thinks of university, or post-secondary education, or life for that matter, one word comes to her mind: opportunity.

In this piece for the Together We Are blog, Lauren Winkler, a Kanien’keha:ka student at Queen’s, talks about her journey relearning to love herself in the different roles of her life: daughter, sister, niece, grandchild, and friend.

“Education is what got us here, education is what will get us out.” – Senator Murray Sinclair

[Together We Are Logo]When I think of university, or post-secondary education, or life for that matter, one word comes to mind: opportunity. Coming to Queen’s I was excited about the opportunity to live on my own, to make new friends, to find myself (because at the time I thought that was something that would just happen… I only wish), and to learn. Sure enough, I have thrived living in my independence, made lifelong friends, and gained a better sense of who I am. What I did not anticipate were the challenges to my own way of thinking that would come from my professors and peers, the different perspectives and life experiences that would be shared with me, and how strengthening my values would shift how I learned and perceived the world. Before university, I always saw learning as linear, but I now understand it to be a lifelong process in which I will learn, unlearn, and relearn. I believe that the more you learn, the better equipped you are to practice empathy, engage in meaningful discussion, and be a catalyst for change.

It was during my undergraduate degree that I first heard the term “unlearning” and it was not until this past summer that I truly understood the concept of “relearning.”

Usually when I tell my story, it heavily focuses on my identity as an Indigenous student. Today, however, I want to embrace my vulnerability and share a different narrative. I want to tell you about how I am relearning to love myself. To love myself as a daughter, sister, niece, grandchild, and friend. To love myself as a woman, as a Mohawk woman, a student, as a law student. To love myself as an advocate for Indigenous peoples, as a student to my culture, as a member of the Onkwehon:we community. To do this, I have had to unlearn toxic pressures and expectations that I put on myself, unlearn my view of vulnerability as being negative, and unlearn stigmas attached to mental health and mental illness. In the past year, I have learned that eating disorders are not solely a result of body image, I have learned that healing is not linear, and I have learned that sharing my own story helps others to validate their own. Struggling with depression, anxiety, and disordered eating, I have had to relearn patience with myself, relearn to validate my thoughts and feelings, and relearn loving myself for who I am.

You will have noticed that at the beginning of this post I included a quote by Senator Murray Sinclair. Where his quote is referring to the residential school system and the power that education has in the process of reconciliation, I think that his message on education can be applied to any situation. I truly believe that we all have so much to learn from one another and that we would all be in a better place if we genuinely listened to and engaged with one another. If we unlearned narratives that we have been taught about one another. If we relearn how to connect with one another to work towards a larger purpose. To me, that is the power of learning, unlearning, and relearning – they are processes that I will be humbly engaging in my whole life and the thought excites me.

As Together We Are marks its fifth year, the blog will focus on unlearning and relearning. The contributors will talk about the learnt attitudes, behaviours, and feelings that must be changed in order to foster a truly inclusive campus.

Lasting peace from the outside in

Ashwini Vasanthakumar, a professor in the Faculty of Law, is looking into the rights and responsibilities exiles have to the country they have left behind, as well as the responsibilities of their host country in facilitating justice for these individuals, through her SSHRC-funded project. (University Communications)

Thomas Merton once said, “Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war.”

Many countries which have survived civil wars might relate to Merton’s quote. The battles, death, and destruction are terrible, and yet picking up the pieces after the fighting is done can be a similarly overwhelming challenge.

One of the unanswered questions during these internal conflicts is what to do about those who have fled or been exiled to foreign countries and settled there, also known as diasporas. These communities play different roles in their countries of origin: they might enhance economic growth, support resistance efforts, or try to resolve conflicts. When conflict ends and it is time to pursue transitional justice, it is difficult to determine what role these diasporas should play in those processes, and what rights and responsibilities they have in their home country.

This is the focus of Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded project, “Transitional Justice as Transnational Justice: partnering with diasporas to secure justice from afar.” 

“Through this project, I will look at what rights and responsibilities exiles have to the country they have left behind, as well as the responsibilities of their host country in facilitating justice for these individuals,” she says. “Transitional justice is challenging because it looks at how we right wrongs, rebuild society, and foster trust – it is both forward and backward looking.”

This is a tricky topic because oftentimes the exile community functions as an official opposition to the government back home. For instance, Chilean exiles in the 1970s sustained solidarity movements opposing the Pinochet regime. Others, like Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, were able to exploit their presence outside of the country to build support and claim power. These dynamics can create an adversarial and fraught relationship upon which to try and build lasting peace.

In her research, Vasanthakumar is focusing on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Toronto, Canada. The Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in 2009, was Asia’s longest running civil war and it created a large Tamil diaspora. She first became interested in the war through work she completed in her undergraduate degree and fieldwork with Tamil communities. “The Sri Lankan civil war illustrates a lot of the complexities in these cases, and this is what makes it interesting to study; it is also an ongoing situation, so there is greater scope for research to inform policy or public debates.”

Some general principles that Vasanthakumar seeks to confirm through her research is whether, for instance, there are general expectations that exile communities should have in these situations. Do they have a right to be “heard” by the government, should they have a say in how justice is administered following civil wars, and does the Canadian government has a role in facilitating this on behalf of exile communities it hosts? “Suppose the conclusion is that diasporas have rights to be involved in transitional justice,” she says. “The Canadian government has international obligations to promote peace abroad – could this be a way to fulfill those obligations?”

To inform her theory, Vasanthakumar will be conducting qualitative research among members of the Tamil diaspora in Toronto. Along for the trip will be two research assistants, supported by her $33,649 SSHRC grant, who will have the opportunity to build their interview skills with clients in need of justice. She also aims to present at several workshops and conferences at the conclusion of the project.

“While I am using the Tamil diaspora as a case study, with future research funding I hope to investigate other case studies and refine the theory,” she says. 

Vasanthakumar is also writing a book on diaspora politics entitled, The Ethics of Exile: a political theory of diaspora, which is under contract with Oxford University Press and is based on her PhD dissertation. 

This article was originally published by the Faculty of Law.

Keeping reconciliation at the forefront

A quote from Justice Murray Sinclair now adorns the walls of the Queen's Faculty of Law building thanks to the support of Law'18.

Murray Sinclair quote
The Queen’s Law atrium now features a short but powerful quote by Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, thanks to a class gift by Law’18. (University Communications)

“The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek. There are no shortcuts. When it comes to truth and reconciliation we are forced to go the distance.”

These are the words of Senator Murray Sinclair, expressed during his 2009-2015 tenure as Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. These words are also one of the first things people will see when they enter the Queen’s Faculty of Law building, thanks to Law’18.

For their graduating class gift to the school, Law’18 classmates funded the design, production, and installation of the quote in silver lettering on the east wall of the building’s front entrance. 

“Exhibiting the words of Justice Murray Sinclair in the atrium will provide a daily reminder to law students that the journey of reconciliation is far from over, and that they have an important role to play in maintaining its momentum,” says Katrina Crocker, Law’18 Class President. “Additionally, the plaque – located inside a building branded with the name of Canada's first prime minister – will help to achieve a greater balance in that relationship.”

Crocker and the other seven Law’18 council members had put out an open call for classmates to submit ideas for a gift that would allow their graduating class to leave behind something meaningful to the Queen’s Law community.

“After reviewing a handful of proposals, the eight student council members selected the Sinclair quote submission in the interest of advancing reconciliation with Indigenous populations and generating a deeper awareness of the harms for which we are brought to reconcile,” Crocker says. “This short but powerful quote will speak to everyone who reads it and it honours Murray Sinclair’s work with the truth and reconciliation process.”

Sinclair, who served the justice system in Manitoba for over 25 years, was the first Indigenous judge appointed in that province and the second in Canada. He was appointed to the Senate in 2016. 

Law’18 raised a total of $6,900, mainly through social events over their three years in law school. They anticipate they’ll be contributing leftover funds from their class gift campaign to another important cause, the Law ThankQ Fund Bursary.  

Watch how the Sinclair quote was installed in the Queen’s Law atrium.

This latest piece adds to the reconciliation efforts at the Faculty of Law.

On Sept. 28, 2018, a permanent art installation in the Gowling WLG Atrium, paying tribute to Indigenous Peoples.

The piece – Words That Are Lasting – was created by Hannah Claus, a visual artist of English and Kanien'kehÁ:ka / Mohawk ancestries and a member of the Tyendinaga Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and features the recreations of seven wampum belts suspended from the Gowling WLG Atrium ceiling. 

This article was originally published on the Queen's Faculty of Law website.

A royal honour for research

Royal Society of Canada elects four Queen’s University researchers.

[Royal Society of Canada]
Queen's University researchers Rosa Bruno-Jofré, Margaret Moore, and Kim Nossal have been elected as fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, while Grégoire Webber was named a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. 

Four Queen’s University researchers have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada, the most prestigious academic society in Canada. Rosa Bruno-Jofré, Margaret Moore, and Kim Nossal were elected to the Fellowship of the academy, while Grégoire Webber was named a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.

The group offers a diverse range of research interests including foreign and defence policy, the history of education, territorial rights, and human rights.

The Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada comprises over 2,000 Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists, peer-elected as the best in their field. These are distinguished men and women from all branches of learning who have made contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.

The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists is Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership.

Queen’s is proud to be home to over 90 members of the Fellowship and 11 members of the College of the Royal Society of Canada.

“Congratulations to the four researchers recognized as members of this esteemed group of Canada’s most influential academics,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. “This honour reflects their outstanding leadership in the field of research and the significant contributions they have made to the academy.”

The four Queen’s scholars are:

Rosa Bruno-Jofré (Education) is internationally acclaimed for her research into the history of education, the development of large interdisciplinary projects, and her futuristic view of outreach. She has contributed innovative approaches to the study of Catholic history.

Margaret Moore (Political Studies) is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of territorial rights. She has developed a comprehensive and systematic theory of territory dealing with some of the most pressing issues faced in national and international politics: how to draw state boundaries, secession, resource rights, rights to migrate and rights of national defense.

Kim Nossal (Political Studies, School of Policy Studies) has published widely and influentially on Canada’s foreign and defence policy. Uniquely, his scholarship has successfully sought to build bridges to the significant francophone scholarly community examining Canada’s political role globally.

Grégoire Webber (Law) has worked for the Privy Council Office, served as Legal Affairs Advisor to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General for founding the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute.

The four Queen’s researchers will be inducted at the Royal Society of Canada's annual Celebration of Excellence and Engagement on Friday, Nov. 22. For more information visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

Bringing the Queen’s and Indigenous communities together

Gift from David Sharpe (Law'95) will fund a three-year program integrating Aboriginal knowledge and wisdom into the academic environment and develop connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars.

[Gift from David Sharpe (Law'95)]
David Sharpe (Law'95), Indigenous Recruitment and Support Coordinator Ann Deer, former Faculty of Law Dean Bill Flanagan, and Faculty of Law Dean Mark Walters, attend the Chief R. Donald Maracle Reconciliation/Indigenous Knowledge Fund gift announcement. (Photo by Rai Allen)

A gift from David Sharpe (Law’95) will bring a highly-respected Indigenous scholar to Queen’s University to lead a new program to promote reconciliation and Indigenous cultures on campus.

Sharpe, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, made a $250,000 donation to fund the Indigenous Knowledge Initiative, a three-year program that will integrate Aboriginal knowledge and wisdom into the academic environment and develop connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars.

The donation helps support the efforts of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, which outlines 25 recommendations for sustained institutional change to create a more welcoming environment for Indigenous students, staff and faculty.

“Queen’s is doing much more for the Indigenous community than when I was a student (in the 1990s), but there is still more to be done,” says Sharpe.

The gift enables Queen’s to bring Indigenous scholar Professor Mark Dockstator to campus this fall to lead the Indigenous Knowledge Initiative. Dockstator is a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, and was the first person from a First Nation to graduate with a doctorate in law. He recently completed a five-year term as president of First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Sask., that saw the school reach record levels of student enrolment.

Sharpe would like to see that success at Queen’s.

“I want more Indigenous students to come to Queen’s and be able to embrace their culture,” he says. “Mark Dockstator is the perfect person to bring the Queen’s and Indigenous communities closer together. He is very familiar with both the academic and Indigenous worlds.”

Exactly how the Indigenous Knowledge Initiative will bring the two communities closer together will be decided by Dockstator through a year-long consultation process with elders, Indigenous faculty and students, and administrative leaders. The following two years will see the recommended programs launched and refined.

Sharpe believes access to post-secondary education is key to helping Aboriginal students and communities. His Queen’s Law degree, along with an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business and a Master of Laws from Osgoode, led to a successful career on Bay Street in the financial services industry. He is currently the CEO of Bridging Finance Inc., one of the few alternative financing companies in Canada that fund First Nations and Inuit infrastructure projects.

“I have an opportunity to make a difference, and the only way I know how to do that is through education and economic development,” says Sharpe.

The Indigenous Knowledge Initiative is supported by the Chief R. Donald Maracle Reconciliation/Indigenous Knowledge Fund, which Sharpe established in honour of Don Maracle, the long-time chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Queen’s University is making its campus more welcoming to the Indigenous community by implementing the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force recommendations. A 2018 progress report highlights many actions taken, including doubling the size of the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre to meet the demands of a growing Indigenous community and installing a permanent Indigenous art display in the Queen’s Law atrium to honour both Canada’s Indigenous legal traditions and the principals of reconciliation.

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.

Queen's remembers Nancy McCormack

Faculty of Law recognizes passing of lauded professor and librarian.

Nancy McCormack
Nancy McCormack was a valued member of the Queen’s Law and Library communities since joining the university in 2002, including five years as Head Law Librarian (Photo: Greg Black).

The Queen’s community is remembering Nancy McCormack, a faculty member and librarian with the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, who died on July 17 following a period of illness. She was 56.

A member of the faculty since 2002, including five years as Head Law Librarian, Professor McCormack was lauded as a teacher, writer, and librarian. In her faculty role, she taught Torts and Advanced Legal Research for JD students and Legal Research and Writing for graduate students. She co-authored numerous books including the Annotated Federal Interpretation Act, The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research, Introduction to the Law and Legal System of Canada, and Updating Statutes and Regulations for all Canadian Jurisdictions. She published widely on the subjects of legal research, Canadian legislation, statutory interpretation, and law librarianship.

“Nancy served with great distinction since joining the Faculty in 2002, including five years as our Head Law Librarian” says Mark Walters, Dean of the Faculty of Law. “Nancy will be missed as a caring and thoughtful teacher, scholar, and colleague, someone valued for her love of legal learning, for her sense of pragmatic wisdom, and of course for her generous spirit and wonderful sense of humour. She was a treasured member of our community.”

In recent months, Professor McCormack was completing her work as the sole editor and compiler of the 5th edition of The Dictionary of Canadian Law (Thomson Reuters), a Herculean task at approximately 1400 pages and 31,000 entries. It is due to be published later in 2019.

Professor McCormack was the keynote speaker at Canada’s New Law Librarians’ Institute, and spoke nationally and internationally on both academic and library-related issues. She served as Associate Editor for the Canadian Law Library Review published by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. She was awarded the Denis Marshall Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship in 2014 and the Michael Silverstein Prize, in 2018, for enhancing the understanding, analysis and appreciation of primary law.

The family will be holding a celebration of life at a later date, with flags lowered on campus to commemorate her on that day.

Meet the Dean of Queen’s Law

Mark Walters shares his thoughts and plans for the Faculty of Law and its community members as he begins his term as dean.

Mark Walters, Law’89 graduate and former faculty member, has returned to Queen's to lead the Faculty of Law’s next phase of development. His depth and breadth of experience in research, teaching, and academic leadership will enable Queen’s Law to continue its momentum as one of Canada’s leading law schools. (University Communications / Photo by Greg Black)

Mark Walters (Law'89) is recognized as one of Canada’s leading scholars in public and constitutional law, legal history and legal theory. His work on the rights of Indigenous peoples, focused on treaty relations between the Crown and Canada’s Indigenous nations, has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as by courts in Australia and New Zealand. 

As he begins his term as dean of the Faculty of Law, a return to his alma mater, his expertise will certainly help Queen’s in its continuing effort to be a leader in innovative legal education and scholarship.

“Legal education and practice are poised for enormous change,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Dr. Walters has a depth and breadth of experience in research, teaching and academic leadership that will enable Queen’s Law to continue its momentum as one of Canada’s leading law schools.”

For the past three years, Dr. Walters has held the distinguished F.R. Scott Chair in Public and Constitutional Law at McGill’s Faculty of Law. For the 17 years before that, he was a faculty member at Queen’s Law, where he led the 2008 launch of the school’s doctoral program and co-chaired the committee that developed its 2014-19 strategic plan. Previously, he taught at Oxford University after practising law in Toronto in the area of Aboriginal title and treaty rights. Over his academic career, he has held a number of research and visiting fellowships and received national awards. 

What’s also interesting about his close connection with Queen’s Law is that he literally wrote the scholarly paper chronicling the school’s first five decades in celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2007.

As he begins his five-year term, Dean Walters shares his thoughts and his plans for the school and its community members.       

How do you feel about being appointed Dean of Queen’s Law?

I’m thrilled to return to Queen’s to lead the law school in the next phase of its remarkable development. It will be a privilege to work with faculty, staff and students who are committed to excellence and innovation in legal education and research and passionate about law’s promise in building a more just society.

What attracted you to the position? 

Queen’s Law is in an enviable position. I’ve always been impressed by the people who make the school a true community. What also impresses me is that this community has set an ambitious path forward: to be a leader in innovative legal education and scholarship with a global reach. The law school has solid foundations and proud traditions, and it has expanded its faculty complement significantly and launched important new initiatives. Leading the school at this important moment is an exciting opportunity.

What did you do to prepare for your new role?  

I begin today, but my work started on March 28, when my appointment was announced. I was in close touch with (former dean) Bill Flanagan, and we planned a smooth transition. Over the past few months I met with as many people in the Queen’s Law community as possible. I attended the Queen’s Law alumni event in Toronto on May 23; the international law conference and celebration of Bill’s deanship at “the Castle,” the Bader International Study Centre in England, on May 30-31; and the Kingston alumni reception on June 19. I also met the members of the advisory board of the Queen’s Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace in June. 

As Dean, what will you do first?

The first thing I’ll do is to meet the new faculty members. Since I left three years ago, Queen’s Law has engaged in a remarkable expansion, and almost one-third of the faculty are new. I’m astounded by the quality of legal scholars who have joined Queen’s Law, both before and after my departure. I’ll enjoy getting to know the new faculty and learning about their research, and I can’t wait to reconnect with my wonderful former colleagues.

What are your top priorities? 

My priorities, I’m sure, are the priorities of all members of the Queen’s Law community. When I picture Queen’s Law, I see a legal-academic community with a passionate commitment to serving society through innovative legal education and groundbreaking research. It’s a school that advances critical understanding about law and the value of legality among the leaders of tomorrow – in the private and public sectors and at the local, national, and international levels. It’s a school that embraces the ideals of inclusion and diversity and, in particular, the goal of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. These are lofty sentiments, I know. 

At a practical level, my priority is to work with faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of Queen’s Law to develop a strategic plan for the next five years that gives these abstract aspirations concrete shape. One important part of this plan will be to address the hard reality that the school must have more financial resources to pursue its dreams. The priority, then, is to develop a plan for success through broad consultation – and then to implement it.

Find out more about Queen’s Law.

This article is an abridged version of the original article first published on the Faculty of Law website.


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