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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.

No cooling for Macdonald Hall lecture theatres - Update

The supply fan serving Macdonald Hall lecture theatres 001, 002, 003 and 004 will remain out of service until sometime on Monday, Sept. 21 while PPS trades staff await the delivery of a new motor for this unit. There will be no cooling available in these lecture theatres until the new motor is installed.

Any questions regarding this maintenance issue should be directed to Fixit by phone at extension 77301 or by e-mail.

Planned power outage for Sir John A. Macdonald Hall on Sept. 17

Sir John A. Macdonald Hall will be restricted to Physical Plant Services staff and contractors only during a planned power outage from Thursday, September 17 at 10 pm until Friday, September 18 at approximately 2 am while McClement Electric relocates the 600 volt electrical panel within the building.

Please note:

  • A fire watch will be in effect during this planned outage.
  • All three passenger elevators (EL1321, EL1322 and EL1323) will be shut down on Thursday, September 17 at 3:30 pm and will be restored to service on Friday, September 18 at 8:15 am.
  • Occupants are reminded to power off all computers and sensitive equipment no later than 9:45 pm on Thursday, September 17.

Any questions or concerns regarding this planned outage should be directed to Fixit by phone at extension 77301 or by e-mail.


Dean's trip north helps build ties with First Nations

The Faculty of Law’s Bill Flanagan spent a week touring a remote Ontario community to better understand barriers and challenges facing Aboriginal youth.

Faculty of Law Dean Bill Flanagan participated this summer in a “reconciliation trip” to a remote First Nations community in northern Ontario in order to better understand the barriers and challenges facing the youth who live there.

“At Queen’s Law, we are committed to working closely with First Nations communities to enhance our outreach efforts and increase the numbers of Aboriginal students in our programs,” says Dean Flanagan. “This trip offered me an important opportunity to learn more about First Nations people in Canada and help build the faculty’s capacity to attract, retain and support increased numbers of Aboriginal students.”

Dean Bill Flanagan visits with Ivan Sakekeep, school principal at Wapekeka First Nation, Ontario. (Supplied photos)

The dean made the trip to Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), a fly-in community located 600 km north of Thunder Bay on Big Trout Lake, on the invitation of KI youth leaders. They wanted to open their homes to interested Canadians to spark an honest dialogue about living conditions and to share their pride in the beauty of their culture and land. KI residents have done this in the past, and guests have included Sophie Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

Dean Flanagan says the trip was personally moving – many of the families are struggling with difficult social issues, including poverty, a lack of opportunity for the community’s youth, and drug and alcohol abuse.

“Although the community faces many challenges, I was also very impressed with the community’s resilience and determination,” he said. “I left with great hope – this a community that is very proud of its cultural roots with a strong connection to the land. There are also inspirational youth leaders in KI working to make change, as demonstrated in their leadership in organizing the KI Reconciliation Trip.”

A view of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation from the air.

During his time in KI, Dean Flanagan stayed as a guest at the home of Chief Donny Morris and his family, and participated in local events, ceremonies and school visits. The dean made the week-long trip with alumnus David Sharpe (Law’95), a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Deseronto, Ont.

Mr. Sharpe is the alumni ambassador for Aboriginal student recruitment for the Faculty of Law and president and chief operating officer of Bridging Finance, which provides small- and medium-sized North American companies with alternative financing options. Bridging Finance is also one of the only bridge lenders in Canada to First Nations for infrastructure projects. He also serves as chair of the Board of Governors for First Nations University in Saskatchewan, and has strong connections to Aboriginal causes in Canada, including the Eabametoong Economic Development Corporation, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and Indspire Institute for Inuit and Aboriginal student mentoring.

Dean Flanagan shares a moment with Queen's Law alumnus David Sharpe (Law'95), who is also the alumni ambassador for Aboriginal student recruitment for the faculty. 

“People can read about First Nations communities in newspapers and online, but until they go and see what’s happening, they don’t have the first-hand knowledge that’s needed to speak honestly about the challenges,” says Mr. Sharpe. “Those who came on this trip were very moved by the experience. When we landed in KI, several were very emotional, even at this early point. It’s difficult. The future for many there is bleak, and that is shocking to see.”

Mr. Sharpe, who is active in recruiting Aboriginal students to Queen’s Law, says education is the best route out of difficult circumstances. However, most children in KI do not finish high school because Grades 11 and 12 are not available at the local school – the youth must travel to Thunder Bay in order to complete their secondary education. Many children are reluctant to leave the community to complete high school and many of those who do travel to Thunder Bay find it difficult to thrive in a program so far away from their support systems at home.

“I really admire Dean Flanagan for making this trip, and I’m proud of Queen’s for all the work the university is doing to improve Aboriginal engagement,” says Mr. Sharpe.

Information on Aboriginal-focused programs and initiatives at Queen’s University is available from Queen’s Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

Queen’s Law has a dedicated admissions category for Aboriginal students, which is available on the Queen’s Law website.




Lawyer joins Queen’s Prison Law Clinic

After years of serving clients at a range of Ontario institutions, the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic (QPLC) has proven to be a rewarding – and challenging – place to work.

[Moiz Baig]
Moiz Baig, right, meets with David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance. (Supplied Photo)

A recent addition to the QPLC team, lawyer Moiz Baig comes from a background of private practice with people’s rights foremost on his mind.

“While I was in private practice, I exclusively served clients with disabilities regarding legal battles they had with government decision makers, insurance companies, and private individuals,” he says. “Some of my clients had been involuntarily detained at psychiatric facilities, limiting their freedom in a manner very similar to imprisonment. People with disabilities have also historically been excluded from many aspects of society – and people sent to prison are by definition excluded from society. So some issues and the ways to advocate for their legal rights are similar, even though the legal framework and decision makers are different.”

One of the draws of clinic work was the opportunity to work in an experiential learning environment – for Mr. Baig, another way to give back.

“Having been a clinic student during law school and a summer student at another specialty legal clinic, I know the challenges and rewards of experiential learning,” he says. “In many instances, no one else is on the side of the clients we serve at the Queen’s Law Clinics, so I would like to instill in students the value of the work we do here, and try to inspire them to use their experience with the clinic as a springboard for a career in social justice.”

Among Mr. Baig’s springboards into public justice has been meeting David Lepofsky, Volunteer Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance at Queen’s Park.

“He’s a lawyer with the provincial government and an inspiring public speaker,” Mr. Baig says. “Mr. Lepofsky is the reason why public transit vehicles in Ontario must have an audio announcement of the next stop, so that people with impaired vision know when to exit.

“I hope to bring about meaningful change, the way he has, for people who have been excluded from society.”

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


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