CALT’s President’s message : A new year, a new mandate

Welcome to CALT’s new website!!!

We have been busy developing this new website for CALT members and Canadian law teachers. On this site you will find blog posts about legal and legal education topics, teaching and learning resources, postings for jobs and calls for papers, information about our journal and annual conference. But that’s only the start! The beauty of the site lies in its networking possibilities. With this website, we can manage our own communications to different audiences, we can create networks of members teaching in the same area or concerned about specific aspects of legal education, for example. The site is also connected to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, so if you follow us on those accounts, you’ll know of new posts. We can amend the website, add content, update the database without much outside help, which will help us reduce our costs.


New website, new smaller Executive board, new Constitution, new Advisory board, new award!

It is my great pleasure to be writing to you again this year in my capacity as the CALT president, re-elected at the June AGM in Ottawa for a term of two years.  John Kleefeld, from the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, was elected as the Vice-President.  Derek McKee agreed to stay on as our Treasurer for yet another year to ensure a successful transition to the new treasurer (any takers?). Angela Cameron (Ottawa) was elected as Secretary. We have also a small number of members at large: Teresa Scassa and Craig Forecese from the University of Ottawa and Konstantia Koutouki from Université de Montréal. Jennifer Koshan (Calgary) has agreed to be our local organizer for the annual conference 2016 which will be held in Calgary. Sara Ross is our graduate student representative. On behalf of CALT members, I extend a huge thank you to them for volunteering their time. You can see the members of the Executive here.


I would also like to thank the members of last year’s Executive: Shauna Van Praagh (past president, McGill), Gemma Smyth (Windsor), Amar Khoday (Manitoba), Eric Adams (Alberta), Elaine Craig (Dalhousie) and our two graduate student representatives, Vanisha Sukdeo (Osgoode) and Tenille Brown (Ottawa). Some of these members sat on the Executive for a few years, so a huge thank you for your service and dedication to CALT!


At our annual conference in Ottawa, the many members who were present (thank you!) adopted amendments to the CALT Constitution. Some of these changes reflect technological advances (for example communicating via email instead of snail mail(!), being able to consult our Executive via email), and some of them are more substantive. For instance, Executive members are now elected for a term of two years instead of one (although they must renew their membership every year) to ensure continuity and to be able to plan on a two-year basis. The amended Constitution has also created the possibility for an Advisory Board, with representatives at least from every law faculty in the country, chosen by their own institution. If any of you are interested in becoming an Advisory Board member, let us know! We will be putting it together very soon. The Advisory board may hold a couple of meetings per year, but its members will be consulted regularly on specific issues as they come up (mostly via email). They may also help out the Executive on ad hoc matters.


2016 CALT annual conference

The 2016 conference will be held in Calgary, May 30th-31st. Building on the Congress theme of “Energizing communities”, the theme for our conference is “Energizing communities through legal education”. We encourage each of you to submit a paper, workshop, panel or roundtable proposal. There are many current issues in law and legal education to discuss, and the CALT conference and policy committees and board are working to create some forums for these discussions. The success of this conference ultimately depends on your participation !  See the Call for papers here.


New Scholarship of teaching and learning award!

On the excellent suggestion of one of our members, we have also created a NEW award to be in line with CALT’s focus on legal education. This new prize will reward scholarship about teaching and learning in law, published or unpublished. You can find out more about this award in the “awards” tab!


2015-2016 plans

Our plans for the 2015-2016 year include the annual conference of course and the usual CALT activities (prizes, annual conference, journal). We are also exploring different options for CALT’s legal status and for membership. Considering the number of law professors in Canada, CALT’s membership base is still far from what it could be, or used to be. As I pointed out last year, our limited membership constitutes a limit as to the activities of CALT. We hope that the new website and the visibility that it creates will help boost membership. But from my conversations with law teachers in different forums, I have also observed that many people think they are automatically members of CALT, or that once they sign up, they are lifetime members of CALT. Wouldn’t that be nice!!! But that is actually not the case.  Every year, you have to renew your commitment to CALT by signing up and paying the modest fees of $75 ($25 for graduate students). With your membership, you get a free paper copy of the journal CLEAR (the Canadian Legal Education Annual Review) sent to you. 

Are you a member of CALT ?

Join here!

I look forward to exchanging ideas about what matters to legal educators in Canada with you throughout this year.

Annie Rochette

President, Canadian Association of Law Teachers

CBA Legal Futures Initiative Call for Submissions Due July 31, 2015

The CBA Legal Futures Initiative welcomes interventions from scholars, practitioners, law students, and advocates that address:

  • New legal disciplines – what training and education will 21stcentury lawyers need?
  • New legal environments – how can we train lawyers to work effectively in collaborative and multidisciplinary teams?
  • New licencing processes – how can we encourage experimentation in the methods used to prepare new entrants for their call to the bar? 
  • Lifelong education – how can professional development meet the needs of lawyers throughout their careers while also ensuring increased competence in the profession? 
  • A more representative profession – how can we ensure that law schools and the profession reflect the diversity of Canadian society to a greater extent, and that law school graduates are able to pursue varied career objectives including social justice?
  • Bridging theory and practice – how can legal employers and legal educators engage in productive dialogue about matching law school graduates to legal market needs? 
  • The relevant lawyer – how does the profession become more relevant to clients?
  • Transforming the profession – how can educators encourage innovation amongst lawyers?
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The Ethics of Student Engagement Technologies: Using Clickers & Smartphones to Learn the Law

The Challenge

Digital natives now comprise a major sector of law school entrants. Don’t be surprised if they appear in your Contracts 101 class this September expecting to use their Apple Watches or Google Glass in learning the law. Such a scenario raises a troubling discrepancy in legal education methodologies: while most students are quite adept with student engagement technologies (SETs) from undergraduate classes, the majority of their law school professors prefer the passive environment of lectures, podiums, and PowerPoint. There might be a variety of reasons for avoiding SETs: apprehension of the technology, the time required for set-up, or fears that techno-wizardry will bog down content-intensive curricula. Some might also hold deep ideological commitment to the timeworn Socratic method.

As the inventory of SETs increases to include both more functional clicker remotes and web-based mobile phones, as well as videos used in the flipped classroom, there is mounting empirical evidence that active learning can address alarmingly short attention spans, improve grades, and close gender and socio-economic gaps. Such benefits raise the ethical question for us all: are we not obligated as law teachers to employ active learning, including SETs, in the best interests of our learners?

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Annual Conference 2015

Experiential and Active Learning for Future Corporate Lawyers

On May 7th, 2015, I had the pleasure of participating in the Estey Symposium on Experiential and Active Learning in Business Law, organized by Professor Rod Wood, my colleague at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, and this past year, the visiting Estey Chair in Business Law at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.

When we think of experiential learning, we tend to think of courses that offer students either actual or simulated experiences in litigation. For example, Prof. Wood, with experienced practitioner Rick Reeson, offers a course on restructuring in which students argue a multi-party chambers application (in front of a real judge!). For those of us teaching in the corporate and commercial law areas, it was interesting to spend a day talking about various ways to give students these kind of experiences in solicitor or transactional work.

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Is the Dress Blue & Black or White & Gold? Students Creating and Moderating Hypothetical Fact Pattern Scenarios in the Classroom

Teaching a one-year contracts course for the first time, I solicited feedback early on from my first year law students about the different learning approaches that I used in class. The students overwhelmingly loved the hypothetical fact pattern scenarios that I prepared for them from time to time, and which we discussed in class. Many students asked for more. The students were less enthusiastic about the short case comment that a student had to present every week.

Inspired by this feedback, I changed the format of the student presentations for the winter term (which was destined to change anyway). Under the new format, students would have to create hypothetical fact pattern scenarios and moderate a class discussion about possible approaches to resolve the legal issues involved. The goal of that change was to ensure a regular flow of hypothetical fact pattern scenarios for my enthusiastic first year students, and raise the bar of the presentation assignment of the second term. The new assignment would support some of the key learning objectives of the course and mimic what students would soon have to do own their own: apply their legal reasoning to solve real-life factual situations. 

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Is Art a Fad or the Future of Legal Education?

As this term and academic year draw to a close, the thoughts of several Deans will turn to broader trends and lessons learned. I wanted to share one such development based on my experience at Osgoode Hall Law School. This year more than any other, it is becoming apparent that art in legal education is no fad but. Art no longer seems like an interesting distraction or peripheral gloss in legal education, but is becoming central to our mission and how we can best fulfill it.

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Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education Call for Papers – Deadline April 30, 2015

The Association of Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE) is pleased to host its 6th Annual Conference at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan from October 23-24, 2015. This year’s conference will focus on “The Place of Clinical Legal Education.” Submissions should be sent by email to Gemma Smyth at with the subject line “ACCLE Conference 2015 Proposal” by April 30, 2015.

The call for papers is available here in English and in French.

Reflections on the University of Alberta’s Law Library Scavenger Hunt

A tour of the law library is a time-honoured feature of orientation for first-year law students. At some point during their first week at law school, perhaps even on their first day, in between signing up for multiple extra-curricular activities and eating burgers deftly cooked by faculty members, students are shown the law library. If they are lucky, law librarians will take small groups and show them the important features of the library: case law reporters, statutes, gazettes, Hansards, and other resources which are infinitely useful for the legal research they will shortly be doing.

It’s not clear, however, just how much the law students actually take in on such tours. The first few days (and arguably the first year) of law school are stressful. Concerns about tuition, about how much smarter all the other students seem, and the increasing stress over job prospects (see, for example, Noel Semple’s blog posting of December, 2014) can all work to make the law library tour a distant memory. This year at the University of Alberta, we decided to introduce a Library Scavenger Hunt to supplement the orientation library tour.

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Ethnic Diversity on Canadian Boards

by Anita Anand and Vijay Jog

Examinations of board composition in public companies focus on the absence of women but rarely on the absence of visible minority directors (VMDs). In countries such as Canada, the United States and Australia, where visible minorities contribute significantly to GDP and represent a high growth segment of the population, a question arises as to whether boards should bear some demographic similarity to the society in which the firm operates. In order to understand board composition and its potential impact on a firm’s performance, more information is required about the complement of VMDs on boards of directors. We seek to fill this gap in the literature.

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