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Law students make a difference

A pair of students from the Faculty of Law are being recognized for their efforts in supporting the Queen’s community.

Michael Coleman (Law'17) and Thompson Hamilton (Law'16, Artsci'13) are two of the five Queen's students being inducted into the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Society this year.

Thompson Hamilton (Law’16, Artsci’13), and Michael Coleman (Law’17), are among five students being inducted into the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Society this year for their outstanding service to the Queen’s community. They have both earned the top university honour through impressive extra-curriculars that have made a lasting, positive impact.

The Tricolour Award, which is presented at Convocation, is the highest tribute that can be paid to a student for valuable and distinguished service to the university in non-athletic, extra-curricular activities.

“Serving the Queen’s community is a win-win scenario,” says Mr. Hamilton. “I’ve contributed but I’ve also learned a lot, and met some of my best friends. Once I got a taste of being involved, there was no going back.”

That taste started in his undergraduate years, when he chaired the AMS Judicial Committee, volunteered with Queen’s Model Court and welcomed prospective students as a campus tour guide.

As a law student, Hamilton served as VP (Professional) of the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS). In that role, he modernized the organization’s Human Resources portfolio to ensure compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, introduced employment contracts for paid employees, drafted formal anti-harassment policies, and was also instrumental in reaching out to professional faculties that were historically less involved with the SGPS. During that time, he also sat on the Grad Club Board of Directors.

The highlight of Mr. Hamilton’s time at Queen’s is his three-year clinical experience with Queen’s Legal Aid, helping students and low-income residents who are often in dire straits.

“Helping people get the income support they deserve, launching human rights claims, preventing people from getting criminal records – it’s very rewarding to have a chance to make a real difference in someone's life,” he says. “There is a very real problem with access to justice in Ontario and law students can play an important role in chipping away at it.”

He is helping more students do just that, passing on his knowledge and experience by training the next generation of QLA caseworkers.

Co-winner Michael Coleman gets his motivation to give back from his parents, who arrived in Canada with little financial backing and worked long hours, but still found time for volunteer work.

“Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful you become, you will always be in a better position than many others in society,” he says, recalling the valuable lesson he learned from them. “This makes it your obligation to help your community whenever the opportunities arise.”

Mr. Coleman, only in his second year of the JD program, has filled a number of important roles targeting diversity and equity issues on campus. As a member of the SGPS’s Equity-Issues Standing Committee, he organized conferences, workshops and social events. Having been elected President of the Queen’s Chapter of the Black Law Students of Canada and appointed Equity and Diversity Commissioner for the Law Faculty, he has highlighted the continuing need for inclusivity and diversity to remain important elements of the school.

While juggling these important initiatives, Coleman volunteered with Queen’s Legal Aid and also as an English and Math tutor at the Collins Bay Correctional Institution in Kingston. There, he helped inmates improve their reading and writing, sometimes working towards their high school diplomas.

For Coleman, one role stands out above the rest: acting as a Student Peer Advisor for graduate students.

“I’m able to connect directly with students completing their PhDs and offer them practical solutions to the academic or social issues they face,” he says. 

For example, after a two-hour meeting with an academically unmotivated student who intended to drop out the next day, he not only convinced the student to continue studying but also to take stress-relieving and confidence-building fitness classes.

Aboriginal law moot a unique experience

The Kawaskimhon “Talking Circle Moot,” has been running for over 20 years, moving from university to university, an annual tradition that brings together Canada’s top minds in Aboriginal law and negotiations.

[Kawaskimhon Moot]
The Kawaskimhon “Talking Circle Moot” logo was designed by Queen’s Arts and Science staff member Sarah Chapman.

Taking place at Queen’s University from March 11-13, Kawaskimhon is a moot unlike any other, bringing together Aboriginal scholars and students of Aboriginal law from across the country.

Even the name Kawaskimhon, which means “speaking with knowledge,” belies what makes this event distinctive. 

Rather than have teams opposing each other against adjudicating judges, teams in the Kawaskimhon moot sit down on opposite sides of a table and negotiate, with one team representing an Aboriginal group, and the other a government agency.

“The interesting thing about this moot is that there’s no award, no winning, it’s about building a consensus,” says the organizer, Hugo Choquette, (Law’05, LLM’10) a PhD in Law candidate. “Most of the time that doesn’t happen, which is very realistic, it doesn’t happen in real life either.” 

The true value, he explains, is in the experience and the perspectives that students gain. 

“On the one hand you have students learning lawyering skills and how to represent clients; if you are a student representing First Nations, learning how to address the government, negotiate with them, and vice versa for the students representing the government. But another part of it is understanding how traditional Indigenous principles and views interact with Canadian law,” Mr. Choquette says. “Our clients tell us this is what their belief systems are, what their viewpoints are, and this is what they want, but these are things that don’t always fit into the framework of Canadian law, and you have to wrestle with that.”

Mr. Choquette says he is looking forward to welcoming Aboriginal leaders, scholars and law students from across the country. 

“With all of Canada’s English-speaking law schools sending at least two team members, and sometimes three or four, plus coaches, elders, and community members, it can be a sizeable group,” he says.

The weekend event will also feature a film screening, social events, and opportunities for current and future leaders in Aboriginal law to connect and discuss the pressing issues of the day.

Mr. Choquette says that the moot is the core of the experience, but the benefits also stem from that connectivity. 

“Students get to meet people that are knowledgeable in these issues across Canada; the coaches are leading Aboriginal scholars from across Canada. You also get the experience of being immersed in Aboriginal customs and cultures. You have the elders there, directing things, something that students wouldn’t normally find in law school.”

With planning and problem creation – another collaborative project, this time between Choquette, other faculty, community members, and even his former students – underway, Mr. Choquette is looking forward to next year’s opportunity to host. 

“With the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, this is an exciting time to be examining these issues,” he says. “I look forward to being part of that national conversation, and helping provide a venue for it.”

Editor's note: an earlier version of this story indicated that the Aboriginal law moot would also coincide with the Indigenous Graduate and Professional Days at Queen's. The latter event has been cancelled due to low enrollment. If you are interested in visiting Queen's, please contact Lisa Doxtator at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

 

Strengthening business law education

Queen’s University announces inaugural David Allgood Professorship in Business Law.

 

Mohamed Khimji has been named the inaugural David Allgood Professor in Business Law the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University announced on Tuesday, March 1.

The Allgood Professorship, the first privately-funded professorship in the history of Queen’s Law, is part of an ongoing strategic initiative by the faculty to strengthen its business law programming.

Mohamed Khimji will begin his term as the inaugural Allgood Professor in Business Law in July 2016.

“I’m honoured to be appointed as the inaugural holder of the David Allgood Professorship in Business Law and also to be given the opportunity to lead the design and development of the business law program at Queen’s,” says Professor Khimji.

“I look forward to working with my new colleagues in enriching the academic program through offering an elevated curriculum designed to facilitate long-term student success and to establish Queen’s Law as a focal point for high-level research activity in business law.”

Professor Khimji, who will begin his term in July, is currently the Stephen Dattels Chair in Corporate Finance Law at the University of Western Ontario. He holds an LLB from the University of Bristol and an LLM from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Allgood Professorship was created through the generous contributions of Queen’s Law alumni and donors, who raised a $1.5 million endowment to support the position.

“I’m very pleased with the generous support our alumni have shown in establishing the Allgood Professorship, and equally pleased to be welcoming a scholar of Professor Khimji’s renown as the inaugural Allgood Professor,” says Bill Flanagan, Dean of Queen’s Faculty of Law.

“Building on our existing business law programs, including the Bader International Study Centre program in international business law, the Queen’s Business Law Clinic, and the Law’80 Visiting Scholar in Business Law program, Professor Khimji’s leadership as a researcher, teacher and mentor is going to vault our entire business law program to the next level.”

David Allgood, Law’74, shakes hands with Dean Bill Flanagan at the ‘Celebrate Queen’s Law’ alumni reception in Toronto, where the Allgood Professorship was officially launched on April 29. Queen's Faculty of Law announced on March 1 that Mohamed Khimji had been named the inaugural holder of the professorship.

The professorship is named for David Allgood (Law’74). Mr. Allgood currently serves as counsel at Dentons in Toronto and was previously the executive vice-president and general counsel for Royal Bank of Canada.

Mr. Allgood is currently a member of the Queen’s Board of Trustees and Audit and Risk Committee and served as chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council in the Faculty of Law from 2006-2012, remaining on the council in the role of past-chair. He has a long standing connection with Queen’s, and has played a tremendous role in teaching and mentoring students in the Faculty of Law.

“It is an incredible honour to have a professorship named for me at my alma mater,” says Mr. Allgood. “I have the utmost confidence that Professor Khimji will help solidify Queen’s Law’s position as a leader in business law education in Canada.”

For more information on the David Allgood Professorship in Business Law, please visit the Queen’s Faculty of Law website.

Breathing new life into the PEC

Queen’s University recently has made progress in its plans to revitalize the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) as a centre for health, wellness and innovation. Jasmine Toor, Communications Specialist, spoke with Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), to learn what the plan will mean for the university.

The revitalization plan for the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) sees the building transformed into a health, wellness and innovation centre.
Construction of the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) was completed in 1931, offering gymnasiums as well as swimming, diving and water polo facilities.

Jasmine Toor: What progress has been made on the university’s plan to revitalize the former PEC building?

Alan Harrison: The university has made significant progress. Queen’s retained CS&P Architects in fall 2015 to produce a functional program and conceptual design for the revitalized building. The preliminary business case for the project is complete and we have initiated the work that will yield a more reliable cost estimate (known as a class B estimate). Our hope is that the first phase of the project, the demolition of much of the interior, will commence early in 2017. Queen’s has raised a significant portion of the total cost of the project, the class D estimate for which is $87 million.   

JT: What was the impetus that led to the decision to redevelop the building?

AH: A structural assessment by an external consultant found that the building was in excellent shape and thus could provide a considerable amount of additional space at a relatively low cost per square foot, if renovated, in comparison to a newly constructed building. The Queen's Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

JT: What will the revitalized building be used for?

AH: The major constituent parts of this project are engineering, innovation and health and wellness. The revitalized building will enhance both the quality of our student experience and the quality of our research facilities by aligning academic and non-academic uses for the building.  Queen’s has a longstanding reputation of offering our students an exceptional educational and extra-curricular learning experience. When completed, the project will be a prominent symbol of Queen’s as the quintessential balanced academy, the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative learning experience.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science will be a major occupant of the revitalized building. Undergraduate learning in engineering will be supported by an interactive Learning Commons that will allow more than 500 mechanical and materials engineering students to work individually or collaboratively on projects and assignments in an environment that offers state-of-the-art information and computing technology. Additionally, a number of high-technology, leading-edge teaching and design studios will each support between 75 and 150 undergraduate students.

Interdisciplinary laboratory space will support more than 20 faculty researchers working on bioengineering, environmental and biomedical research. This laboratory space will allow considerable expansion of interdisciplinary research, primarily but not exclusively in the areas of chemical and civil engineering. The benefits of this laboratory space will accrue not only to the researchers but also to their graduate students.

The Queen’s Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

— Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

JT: How does this plan align with Queen’s commitment to enhanced health and wellness related facilities?

AH: The Wellness Centre is an integral part of the revitalization project. The new Wellness Centre will allow us to co-locate services, so anyone seeking counselling is assured of privacy.  By combining health, counselling and accessibility services together in one centrally located and visible location, along with three gymnasia and other athletic and recreation facilities, the revitalized building will provide opportunities to integrate physical and mental health, connecting them with the student experience.

Furthermore, the new Wellness Centre will be able to provide us with the increased capacity and flexibility to meet the rising demand across the spectrum of wellness services and expand in response to the evolving needs of our student population. This was acknowledged by the 2012 report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, which recommended a new and centralized location for student wellness services.

The completion of Queen’s Gymnasium in 1931:
“It is modern in every respect; we can hold up our heads and boast of one of the finest gymnasiums in Dominion. The undergraduates will reap the benefits and it behooves them to carry on and bring more athletic honors to Queen’s. Swimming and diving and water-polo facilities are now open for the Queen’s natatorialartists and soon graduates should hear that Queen’s is once more carrying off championships in this new athletic field.”

JT: How does the revitalization project align with Queen’s commitment to innovation?

AH: Queen’s has committed to increasing the number of new opportunities for experiential and entrepreneurial learning, improving intra-university collaboration through new programs and curriculum innovation, and creating new and innovative ways for students to develop fundamental academic skills. The new engineering space of the building will include an Innovation Hub. This and other space in the refurbished building dedicated to innovation will result in a considerable expansion of the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), which will support and allow the development of a core strength of the QIC, which is its interdisciplinary nature.

Students from across the university will have access to the resources, the networks and the mentors that will help transform their ideas into products and services. They will work in diverse teams to address important problems and identify the solutions that will yield benefits not only for our region, but nationally and globally too. The innovation component of the redevelopment plan also aligns with the federal government’s focus on innovation as an important component of university research.

Queen’s Law hosting international trade moot

[ELSA Moot]
Professor Nicolas Lamp (second left) with Law’17 students helping to facilitate the 2016 ELSA Moot at Queen’s: Marko Petrovic, Carly White and Azeem Manghat.

If you want to see the future face of trade law from across two continents, Queen’s University will be the place to do it this spring.

Students from across North and South America will be bringing their ‘A’ game to Kingston in early March to do exactly that. The All-American Regional Round of the 2016 European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) Moot on international trade law is being hosted by Queen’s Law, attracting dozens of students from competing schools from Canada to Colombia.

“We’re proud to be hosting both current and future leaders in trade law here in Kingston,” says Professor Nicolas Lamp, who is organizing the American round. “These students represent the future trade law elite of their countries. I know from personal experience that virtually every junior lawyer who is hired by the World Trade Organization or by law firms working on WTO law has participated in the ELSA Moot Court Competition on WTO Law.”

From March 2-6, teams from six countries will be presenting at the ELSA Moot Court Competition (EMC2) at Queen’s Law. Panelists – judging the competitions – will be leading experts in international trade law from Canada, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The event is also supported by organizations with strong international trade law ties. The EMC2 receives technical support from the World Trade Organization, and closer to home, the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is a major sponsor of the event.

“The level of support from both the WTO and CIGI shows how important this event is for the international trading system,” Dr. Lamp says. “It’s a unique tool to build capacity in international trade law in developing countries and to attract some of the brightest up-and-coming legal minds to the world of international trade. The best teams will go on to the final rounds in Geneva, where they will get a real feel for how it would be to have a career in international trade law.”

Sixteen teams will engage in two full days of team-versus-team competition, pleading in front of panels who will decide victors for each match. From there, the moots move on to a third-day of semifinals and a final, head-to-head match between the two best trade mooting teams on two continents. Prizes include not only the prestige of victory, but also a prize for best overall individual mooter.

“The EMC2 provides students with a chance to prove themselves in front of an international audience of their peers and leading minds in law,” Dr. Lamp, who participated in the moot as a student in 2007-08, says. “But it’s also a chance for these students to meet, exchange ideas, forge friendships and leave with new perspectives, new connections and new ideas.”

Rising to the challenge

Queen’s students and faculty are helping Syrian refugees settle in Kingston

Several third-year law students at Queen’s University have come together to welcome Syrian refugees to Kingston.

Jess Spindler, Rosa Stall, Kaisha Thompson and Lauren Wilson have created the Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program after receiving training through the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program. The Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program is already offering assistance to Peter (his name has been changed by the Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program to protect his identity), a 26-year-old who fled the violent civil war in Syria.

“We are now working to help him deal with the realities of living in Kingston,” says Ms. Spindler. “That includes shopping for groceries, banking, getting a job and dealing with the cold weather.”

Working on the Queen's Law Refugee Support Program are (l to r): Jess Spindler, Kaisha Thompson, Lauren Wilson and Rosa Stall.

Ms. Thompson says it’s helpful that they are the same age as Peter so they can help him through the loneliness. “Cultural isolation is a definite issue so we are trying to get Peter to meet with other Canadians and members of the Kingston community who speak his language, people who understand where he is coming from.”

Initially, the Queen’s group was going to help with paperwork for new refugees. With the federal government assuming those duties, they are now focused on fundraising and helping refugees resettle in the community. They have launched a Tilt campaign which is getting close to $1,500. William Flanagan, Dean, Queen’s Law, has been a key supporter in the students’ efforts and the program is supervised by Queen’s Law professor Lisa Kerr.

“The campaign has been going really well,” says Ms. Wilson. “The Dean and the entire law school have been very supportive.”

“We are here to help and that means many different things,” says Ms. Stall. “We are prepared to assist with any tasks and want to continue to reach out as more refugees arrive in the future.”

Arriving on Boxing Day, Peter was the first of three Syrian refugees who have been formally sponsored by a group of Queen’s faculty, staff and alumni to arrive in Kingston.  This group is also sponsoring a young couple who arrived in Kingston on New Year’s Eve. They are now taking full time English classes and hope to start volunteer activities soon. They are currently living temporarily with Sandra den Otter, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

 “It has been a rewarding experience, and we’ve been astounded by the response from the Queen’s community and the Kingston community,” says Dr. den Otter. “There has been an overwhelming response to this opportunity for us to share the work of resettlement with newcomers from Syria.” Organizations like ISKA (Immigrant Services Kingston and the area), KEYS employment services, Queen’s Family Health Team, and others have been extremely helpful.

Along with Sandra den Otter, Queen’s professors Margaret Moore, Zsuzsa Csergo, Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, John McGarry in Political Studies, Henry Laycock and Alistair McLeod (Philosophy) and Queen’s alumna France Pellicano are supporting the couple, in collaboration with several community members.

In addition to the law student group, graduate students from History, Political Studies, and Computing have been actively supporting the newcomers. Dr. den Otter says providing support for refugees gives Queen’s students a unique experience. “Assisting in the settlement of newcomers from Syria is such a valuable form of community engagement and global citizenship for graduate students.”

For more information about how to assist visit the Queen’s Law Refugee Support Program Facebook page, email Jess Spindler at jess.spindler@queensu.ca or to help in the settlement of the three newcomers to Kingston please email Sandra den Otter at denotter@queensu.ca or Margaret Moore at margaret.moore@queensu.ca.

Rivalry benefits refugees

Personal wager evolves into larger campaign to benefit Syrian families

A Grey Cup personal wager has turned into much needed funding for refugee families coming to Kingston.

Queen’s law students Adam Sadinsky, who hails from Ottawa, and Ian Moore, who comes to Queen’s from Edmonton, placed a personal wager on the Canadian Football League title game. Instead of money exchanging hands between the winner and loser, though, the two third-year students decided to donate the money to the local Refugee Relief Fund operated by the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

This unique piece of artwork depicting Adam Sadinsky (l) and Ian Moore was created by Meagan Berlin.

The fund is a joint effort between the United Way and the City of Kingston working in partnership with Kingston Community Health Centres, the County of Frontenac, and the County of Lennox and Addington.

“We decided to create a wager on the game and all the money would be donated to charity,” Mr. Sadinsky says. “Once other students and faculty heard about it, they wanted to donate as well.”

In fact, so much was being donated that Mr. Sadinsky and Mr. Moore set up a Tilt page to allow online contributions to the Refugee Relief Fund. The page closes on Friday, Dec. 11, at which time the money will be donated.

“It’s wonderful the group is helping welcome the refugees to Kingston,” says United Way President and CEO Bhavana Varma. “The money they raise will be put into a large pot and a panel will decide how best to use the money to help the families.”

Both Mr. Moore and Mr. Sadinsky are thrilled the student body got so involved in the project.

“This was a perfect opportunity for students to get together for a common cause,” says Mr. Moore. “Both Adam and I believe in this cause and it’s also nice to have our fellow law students donate.”

The two football fans became friends when they created Juris Diction, the Queen’s law student newspaper. The student-run online newspaper is published twice a month and there are 28 students regularly involved on a volunteer basis. Mr. Sadinsky is the editor-in-chief and Mr. Moore volunteers as the publisher.

National recognition for Advocacy Institute co-founders

Grégoire Webber (Law) and Queen’s alumnus Owen Rees have been selected to receive one of Canada’s most prestigious civilian honours.

[Owen Rees and Gregoire Webber]
Owen Rees (Law’02) and Professor Grégoire Webber have been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. 

Dr. Webber, the Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law, and Mr. Rees (Law’02), a partner at the highly-regarded Toronto boutique litigation firm Stockwoods, will be awarded Meritorious Service Medals at an upcoming ceremony in Ottawa. The medals, established by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to recognize individuals for remarkable achievements, will be presented by Governor General David Johnston (Law’66, LLD’91) on Friday, Dec. 11.

Dr. Webber and Mr. Rees were honoured for their contributions to the legal profession, primarily their work in launching the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute. This independent non-profit agency, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, has been instrumental in improving the quality of legal advocacy in Canada.

Dr. Webber and Mr. Rees met in 2003 while clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada – Mr. Rees for Justice Louis LeBel, Dr. Webber for Justice Ian Binnie. “When Owen and I attended hearings on the cases for which we’d prepared legal briefs for the judges, sometimes we thought that the Court could be getting more assistance from counsel,” says Dr. Webber.

The two were aware of the Supreme Court Institute (SCI), a Georgetown University law school-based program that promotes awareness of issues of importance to the United States Supreme Court. The centrepiece of the SCI’s activities is a moot court program that offers lawyers the opportunity to test-drive legal arguments they intend to make in their submissions to the Supreme Court.

“We wondered if there was room for a similar initiative here in Canada,” says Mr. Rees. “If so, we knew it would have to be purpose-built for Canadian needs. That meant it had to be low-cost, accessible to all, and national in its scope.”

With help and encouragement from Justice Frank Iacobucci, the Institute was born; Iacobucci, who was about to retire from the bench, agreed to serve as its chair.

“I didn’t hesitate to support [the program],” recalls Iacobucci. “My reasons were simple. First, the aim of the proposal was to improve oral advocacy before the Court, which would be to the benefit of clients, the Court and the legal profession for their involvement. Second, Owen and Grégoire were law clerks in whom my colleagues and I had confidence and who were ideal to create and organize the institute.”

The initiative quickly garnered enthusiastic support from Canada’s legal community an that support has continued to grow since 2006. When the first moot court sessions were held in 2007-2008, they took place in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Today, the institute sends out invitation letters to every lawyer who’s granted leave to appeal to the SCC, and the moot courts now are staged in major cities across the country. At first, about 20 per cent of eligible lawyers availed themselves of the opportunity to take part in the sessions. In 2014-2015, that number was close to 50 per cent.

“We wanted to make sure the program would be free and available to any lawyer who’s scheduled to argue a case before the SCC,” says Dr. Webber. “Some of the larger firms in Canada and various federal and provincial Justice departments have their own in-house programs; however, we felt there was a real need for a non-partisan program that would be available to lawyers from smaller firms and cities across the country and wouldn’t be seen as just a central-Canadian initiative. In that sense, the Institute helps level the legal playing field.”

Mr. Rees echoes those words.

“Grégoire and I saw the institute both as a vehicle to help promote advocacy skills and as a way for us to give back to the legal profession and the Court,” he says. “Being awarded a Meritorious Service Medal obviously is a special honour, but we’re really accepting it on behalf of the many people who have helped set up the SCAI and make it a success – in particular Frank Iacobucci and all of the talented advocates who selflessly volunteer their time and legal expertise when they act as advocacy advisors during practice sessions or serve on our national and regional committees.”

Read more about the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute.

 

Growth and renewal at Faculty of Law

[Back to School - Faculty of Law]
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.”

Queen's Legal Aid expands service with new funds

Queen’s Legal Aid (QLA) will expand all of its services and broaden its outreach initiatives in Kingston and the surrounding area thanks to additional funding from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO).

LAO recently announced it would provide an additional $100,000 annually for each of the seven student legal aid services in the province. QLA will use the resources to expand its current services, launch new outreach initiatives, and improve the learning experience for law students.

[Queen's Legal Aid]
Jana Mills (middle), Acting Senior Review Counsel with Queen's Legal Aid (QLA), discusses a case with law students. QLA will expand its services with additional funding from Legal Aid Ontario. (Greg Black Photography)

“Thanks to the increased investment from Legal Aid Ontario and the Ontario government, we will have additional capacity to provide legal services to low-income residents of Kingston and the surrounding area, and students at Queen’s and St. Lawrence College,” says Faculty of Law Dean Bill Flanagan.

The areas of practice at QLA include relatively minor criminal offences, serious provincial offences, landlord/tenant disputes, provincial social assistance, Canada Pension Plan appeals, Small Claims Court and Criminal Injuries Compensation Board claims. With the funding increase, QLA will expand to handle applications and appeals to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and represent clients in employment law cases.

In addition, QLA will move forward with new services including public legal education outreach initiatives aimed at advising local residents of their legal rights and helping them avoid unnecessary legal interventions. The overall QLA program will grow with the training of new caseworkers, the hiring of a new review counsel, and making use of technology to enhance the legal learning process for students and clients.

“Law students working at QLA under the supervision of review counsel receive invaluable hands-on experience,” says Jana Mills, Acting Senior Review Counsel, QLA. “They take pride in providing high quality legal services to members of our community who could not otherwise access their rights. Under the umbrella of Queen’s Law Clinics, QLA looks forward to the expansion of services this new funding permits.” 

Established in 1971, QLA recently co-located to the LaSalle Mews building in downtown Kingston with the faculty’s other law clinics: Business Law, Elder Law, Family Law, and Prison Law.

Queen’s Faculty of Law is a leader in providing excellent experiential learning opportunities through its clinical programs. Last year, the faculty launched the Queen’s Family Law Clinic with the financial support of LAO.

When each clinic reaches its target enrolment, 100 upper-year students – approximately 50 per cent of the class – will have the option to earn academic credit from a clinical law course every year. Furthermore, more than 70 students volunteer annually with QLA.

Visit Queen’s Law Clinics for more information.

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