CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW TEACHERS
L’ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES PROFESSEURS DE DROIT

The Open Access Revolution: Workshop Recap

 

At CALT's July 6 web session on Open Access publishing we heard from practitioners, law teachers, and publishers about options for Open Access with CanLII.  I thought I knew what could be done with “online”, “open access” text books – but I think I’d fallen a bit behind and what I saw made me even more keen to join up.  There are lots of reasons to think about this, normative reasons (low price, public access) and functional/pedagogical reasons (customization, easy access, downloads possible, printing possible, and additional features such as embeds, links, etc).

Scroll down for more on Open Access resources and more on CanLII's platform.

Samuel Beswick is Assistant Professor at Allard where he’s teaching Torts.  You can see his Open Access, Torts casebook on CanLII:  Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries (2021 CanLIIDocs 1859). He put together two brief slides easily accessed here, to highlight important points, and he’s also done a short explainer at SLAW, here.  Those are really useful, but I think that taking a look at his casebook is perhaps the best way to see what’s possible (the artist who did the cover illustration is a student – you can see her work here).   

Sam was particularly interested in highlighting two things in his casebook.  First, a bit of comparative law from around the common law world in terms of tort doctrine.  Second, the question of how Tort law should work when the alleged tortfeasor is a public entity.  Doing his own casebook allowed him to bring those things to the fore.

Beswick's Tort Law is relatively purely a casebook – there is some commentary but it’s not from him.  But what a casebook! In particular:

  1. The cross referencing means that students can easily follow a case which might appear in a case book multiple times (for instance, in terms of the duty of care, the standard of care, and the remedy).
  2. The “additional reading” or “resources” linked can include video, news articles.
  3. The links mean that students can easily move from the excerpts he’s providing to the full text if they want to.

The work is hosted on CanLII and available completely open access.  Students can download it, access it via the web, or print it.  Sam, in fact, has it printed and requires that students buy it (at cost of printing/binding) so that they have it in print form (there were some interesting side conversations about comprehension and concentration when reading online/in print).   Sam said too that because CanLII SEO game is strong, he’s getting views from people who are probably just looking for general tort information but his book comes first when they search!

Sam has also enhanced his book with teaching tools including quizzes and help “structuring the answer on an exam” – these tools are hosted elsewhere but also available open access.  (I did not do very well on the defences quiz, 26 years post-Torts with Prof. Weinrib, scraping a pretty bare pass).

Reminder that CALT membership is open for online purchase (here). Please consider becoming a member if you find this kind of workshop and resource useful.

John Fiddick and Cameron Wardell are civil litigators in B.C., and the lead editors of The CanLII Manual to British Columbia Civil Litigation - open access on CanLII here (cover art for this Manual is by….Cameron Wardell!).  This is a different kind of project but it also highlights the incredible possibilities of OA as supported by CanLII, as a tool for access to justice and a space of collaboration not just sole authorship.

Initiated out of a concern that self-represented litigants (and new professionals) had limited places to go for a comprehensive guide to the civil litigation systems in BC.  It is deliberately written a format and language that will be accessible to the ordinary citizen.  Each of the 9 “pathfinders” (for instance, in personal injury law, residential tenancy law, and worker’s compensation law) in Administrative Law, Criminal Law Employment Law was written by a volunteer author, and a huge team of volunteer checkers and editors helped bring this project to fruition.   CanLII provided some coordination and formatting support, but the content is all volunteer-expert supplied.

Alisa Lazear,  Manager of Community and Content at CanLII, was closely involved in the development and production of the BC Manual and Sam’s Torts casebook.  While the casebook was largely a sole author production (Sam wrote it in word, and then it was uploaded to the CanLII platform), the Manual required more development and coordination.  CanLII is fielding a number of proposals for similar Manuals across the provinces.  The BC Manual is being well used (first citation, here).  As Cameron pointed out there are (Cameron’s emphasis!) “very serious lawyers” who use no database other than CanLII now.   Those of us (like me) who entered legal research just as analog methods were giving way to full text, fully commercialised databases, might not realize this – I’m not sure I did. 

 

If you want to read more about Open Access Resources in legal education, you can read the  Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Educational Resources and/or  watch a series of topic specific recorded webinars about Fair Use for Open Educational Resources  here (h/t to Osgoode’s Carys Craig, the only scholar from a Canadian Law School involved here I think).  The materials are “…intended to support authors, teachers, professors, librarians, and all open educators in evaluating when and how they can incorporate third party copyright materials into Open Educational Resources to meet their pedagogical goals”.  The clear concern here is that understandings of IP and copyright might be stifling educational use beyond what the law actually requires.

If you want to know more about CanLII platform and policies around hosting Open Access resources, you can try here (Author guidelines), here (Lexbox, free to sign up, which will show you what your materials will look like on CanLII)  and here (Reflex, which automatically finds and hyperlinks an references in your materials which connect to CanLII resources – other hyperlinks need to be manually added). Despite  CanLII's small number of staff, it is developing into a significant player in Canada as a supplier of Open Access Resources in legal practice and legal education. Alisa Lazear also recommended this guide to publishing Open Access educational resources put together by a not-for-profit: The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Text which details the kinds of things you have to think about, and the process from beginning to Open Access (well, and beyond, since with legal material you always have to think about updates/being up-to-date).

 

Apologies for any errors or misunderstandings in this post, entirely my own. Huge thanks again to Alisa, Sam, John and Cameron, and Sarah Sutherland of CanLII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Workshop Report: Incorporating Disability into the Law School Curriculum

 

CALT is really grateful to this amazing group of professors who brought us a wonderful workshop on Incorporating disability into the curriculum on June 29 2022. 

  • David Lepofsky – Disability Advocate, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Toronto and Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

 

Co Authors

  • Odelia Bay – PhD Student, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Ruby Dhand – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University
  • David Ireland – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba
  • Richard Jochelson – Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba
  • Freya Kodar – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

Anna Lund, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta (moderator)

David Lepofsky opened the session, describing his report on this topic, originally written for Osgoode Hall Law School and soon to be published in the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice as a paper. David noted that he’s given talks at many schools on this topic and welcomes requests to do so – just reach out.

The lead author of Law and Disability: Cases and Materials, Laverne Jacobs (also the 2022  winner of CALT’s Academic Excellence Award!) spoke about the aims and scope of book (available here, tell your librarian and your colleagues), which she noted was “inspired by the notable absence of material about the lives of people with disabilities in law school curricula”.  She described it, in part, as  a “necessary part of cultural competency of students, disabled and non disabled alike”. 

Describing how she brings disability into the public law context, Dr. Jacobs (who teaches, inter alia, Admin law) suggested two practical tips.  First, reread an older case in light of changes in the law.  She suggested  Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 624, with which many will be familiar, which could be reread to ask whether the Medical Commission properly exercised discretion when it did not include sign language translation on the list of funded services.  Next, she suggested that a more recent case like Vavilov could be read with a disability lens.  Students can be asked to outline the actual impact on people with disabilities, people who access many statutory regimes of benefit provision, for instance.   She also recommended, in the area of equality and human rights law, Disability Rights Coalition v. Nova Scotia (Attorney General), 2021 NSCA 70 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/jjg28> , noting that it focuses on evidentiary requirements which are often important in disability related cases.

Odelia Bay, a sessional instructor in labour law and PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School talked about how she uses her classroom to model accessibility and contrast it with accommodation, working in her teaching to assume that all her students are people with disabilities.  She also  establishes the difference between social and individual/medical models of disability and how these produce different legal analyses and outcomes.  She noted in particular the complexities of episodic disabilities, cases which challenge the idea of predictability in disability and “accommodation”, pointing to some a case she takes up in her contribution to the volume which involves the return to work of a person with bipolar disorder and the labour arbitration over what accommodations were required.  She noted that cases also offer the possibility of a discussion of social class and private support.  In the case she takes up, the person making the claim was a professor, and the final outcome included insurance payouts which lessened the financial cost of accommodation for the university.  But in many cases, people with disabilities will not have this kind of support.

Freya Kodar teaches in the areas of income support law, pension law, social welfare law and tort law.  Her engagement with disability analysis focuses on the ways that income support law provides income support across life course, but raises many questions about the adequacy of that support.  She particularly noted her efforts to ensure that students are able to problematize the need (in legal contexts) to present disability in a negative light in order to qualify for support.  Students can work on identifying the ways that this fits with the medical model and differs profoundly from how a disability justice approach or a social model/critical model might frame the issue.

David Ireland and Richard Jochelson wrote about disability in the criminal law context, considering in particular jury representations for people with disabilities (pointing out that in the case of Indigenous people in Canada, the percentage of people identifying as disabled seems to be higher and perhaps substantially higher than the 1 in 5 usually cited for the rest of the Canadian population)  and then the work done at inquests into deaths in state “care”, considering not only deaths in custody, but a other contexts as well. Their contribution also considers how mental and physical disability plays a role (or does not) in sentencing decisions. Like many of the presenters, these two emphasized the need to alert students to the failings of the legal profession in its own approaches to access and accommodation.

Finally, Ruby Dhand, who teaches mental health law spoke about her work in teaching this substantive content of mental health law (which, as she pointed out, intersects with a huge number of overlapping legal areas including human rights law, clinical legal education, health law, criminal law) as well as in furthering discussions about and importance of mental health in the profession.  Prof Dhand pointed to the importance of encouraging students to use a trauma informed lens in their own work as lawyers.

This discussion and this book highlight the ways that “disability” issues pervade our law, and people with disabilities are users of all of the doctrine and systems that are used by the non-disabled – with some systems uniquely focused on people with disabilities.  Thus the necessity of including this material and habituating our students to thinking about the way that disability is and should be treated in law seems clear.  Equally, we are teaching in spaces that include people with disabilities and thus must think about our own practices with respect to disability and access.  Finally our students, whether living with disabilities or not and whether planning to practice something that we might label “disability law” or not, must be prepared to have people with disabilities as their clients and colleagues and to respond in professional and appropriate ways to different needs and concern.

Get the book.

CALT is very grateful to all of the presenters in this workshop for their published work and their daily ongoing work to foreground and support the work of access and inclusion in form and practice.

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Workshop Wednesday July 20 2022 @2PM EST

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY: A Primer and Strategic Mapping Exercise

Wednesday July 20, 2022 2:00PM EST

You will need to register in advance for this meeting by clicking here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.Text in a circle reading Summer Sessions ACPD CALT 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has put worker health and safety at the forefront of the news. Over half the workforce of Cargill’s meatpacking plant in High River, Alberta contracted the virus, resulting in at least three deaths. SEIU Healthcare, a union representing front line workers, asked police to investigate after three personal care attendants died from COVID-19, which they had contracted at work. Occupational health and safety law is intended to ensure that workplaces are safe, but not many lawyers have any familiarity with it. Few law schools offer dedicated occupational health and safety courses, while in some others OHS may be touched upon in a related course, but in most the topic is entirely absent from the curriculum. This session aims to provide law professors teaching in adjacent areas of law (e.g., labour & employment; business associations law) with knowledge and strategies for incorporating basic occupational health and safety law into their courses.

The goals of this session are two fold:  

  1. To provide law professors with a primer on occupational health and safety law, so that they feel more comfortable incorporating it into their classes, and 
  2. To provide law professors with space to consider where and how they might incorporate materials on occupational health and safety into their courses. 

Anna Lund (Moderator), Associate Professor at University of Alberta, Faculty of Law

Eric Tucker (Presenter), Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Eric Tucker will deliver the primer on occupational health and safety law.  Eric Tucker has published extensively on occupational health and safety law and teaches a dedicated seminar on the subject at Osgoode Hall Law School.  His primer will cover the following questions   

  • What are the key policy goals of occupational health and safety law? What are the big ideas that illuminate this area?
  • What are key sources of occupational health and safety law? What resources could a law professor draw on to learn more about it?
  • Why is it important for students to understand occupational health and safety law? In what circumstances will they encounter it in practice?
  • What are some of the new and current questions in occupational health and safety law and scholarship?

Attendees at this session will be invited to take part in a mapping exercise.

First, they will be asked to identify where they may already be covering occupational health and safety law in their courses.

Next, they will be invited to consider where they might try to incorporate it more substantively in future iterations of their course.  

 

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Workshop Wednesdays: July 6 2022 12PM Eastern

The Open Casebook Revolution

Please register in advance for this meeting by clicking here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The open access law book “revolution” (as named by  The Faculty Lounge), is gaining momentum. Open access law books are materials compiled and edited for law students, practitioners and/or the public that are freely hosted on websites and as downloadable, searchable, printable, mark-up-able PDFs. In the United States, dozens of open access law casebooks are popping up on platforms such as SSRN, Open Textbook Library, eLangdell and H2O.

old library in perspective, looking down symmetrical rows of shelves

In Canada, CanLII hosts Professor Beswick’s casebook, Tort Law: Cases and Commentaries, and Messrs

 Fiddick and Wardell’s handbook, The CanLII Manual to British Columbia Civil Litigation. These materials are freely available alternatives to commercial cas

ebooks and handbooks, which are typically expensive, heavy, and have a short shelf-life.  

Open access law books have clear practical, pedagogical and societal advantages. On the practical side, compared to commercial alternatives, open access books are simpler to edit, faster to publish, easier to update, and free. On the pedagogical side, they empower flexibility and innovation. They can be more readily structured to suit the editor’s teaching aims. They can link to podcasts 🎧, videos 📺, blogs, news, articles, books, and judgments. Readers can keyword search and highlight text. Students don’t break their backs carrying them. They can also be integrated with quizzes and exam exercises. On the social side, open access legal materials advance access to justice. Commercial materials are often beyond the reach of the public and, in some cases, students.

Open access legal publications help to keep the law accessible.  

This roundtable  will appraise and praise the practical, pedagogical and societal benefits of open access law books for law teachers, students and lawyers. We will begin by taking 10 minutes each to highlight the design innovations of our respective books and the impact we see them having.

We will then discuss among ourselves and with attendees the tricks and challenges for making such materials. We hope to encourage others to venture into creating open access casebooks, handbooks and other resources for students and curious members of the public.  

Sarah Sutherland (session chair), President and CEO, Canadian Legal Information Institute

  • Samuel Beswick, Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia (presentation slides)
  • John Fiddick, Director, Whitelaw Twining.
  • Cameron Wardell, Partner, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP

text in a circle reading Summer Sessions ACPD CALT 2022

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WORKSHOP WEDNESDAY June 29 12:30EST

INCORPORATING LAW AND DISABILITY INTO THE CURRICULUM

June 29 1230-2PM EST

Please register in advance for this meeting: click here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

22% of Canadians over the age of 15 have at least one disability. Graduates of law schools will serve clients with disabilities, work alongside colleagues with disabilities and may themselves have or acquire disabilities over the course of their career. Key competencies for graduating law students include being familiar with how the law conceptualizes and addresses disability and having frameworks to critique the shortcomings of the existing law.  

The aims of this session are

(1) to provide concrete examples of how topics relevant to meeting the legal needs of individuals with disabilities can be incorporated into a wide range of courses across the law school curriculum and

(2) to engage law professors in a discussion of these topics.  Each participant will discuss a different area of law and how they bring awareness of the lived experiences of persons with disabilities into their classroom teaching.   

The session will touch on:  

  • models of disability and theoretical underpinnings 
  • equality and human rights law 
  • accessibility legislation (including the federal Accessible Canada Act)
  • employment law
  • benefits law
  • criminal law
  • tort law 
  • administrative law 
  • mental health law  

 

Time will be reserved after the roundtable for a dialogue among participants and attendees.  

The session participants include the contributors to Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials (Toronto: Lexis Nexis Canada, 2021) and David Lepofsky, a longtime disability rights activist, who has a forthcoming article in the Windsor Yearbook on Access to Justice entitled, “People with Disabilities Need Lawyers Too! A Ready-To-Use Plan for Law Schools to Educate Law Students to Effectively Serve the Legal Needs of Clients with Disabilities, As Well As Clients Without Disabilities”.  

Anna Lund, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta (moderator)

  • Odelia Bay – PhD Student, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and co-author Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials
  • Ruby Dhand – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University and co-author Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials.
  • David Ireland – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba and co-author Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials.
  • Laverne Jacobs – Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor and lead author and General Editor, Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials.
  • Richard Jochelson – Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba and co-author Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials
  • Freya Kodar – Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria and co-author Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials.
  • David Lepofsky – Disability Advocate, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Toronto and Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. 
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2022 CALT Award Winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of CALT's Academic Prizes for 2022.  In awarding the Prizes during our (virtual) AGM, President of CALT and Chair of the Awards Committee, Angela Cameron spoke. about the large pool of excellent papers.  Our tireless adjudication Committee struggled to choose winners this year, and we are grateful to them for their work. 

Find out more about CALT's awards here

 

2022 Scholarly Paper Prize

Marie Manikis (McGill University).   “Recognising State Blame in Sentencing: A Communicative and Relational Framework” Cambridge Law Journal (forthcoming)

Honourable mentions: 

Ignacio Cofone (McGill law): "Immunity Passports and Contact Tracing Surveillance” (published in the Stanford Technology Law Review) 

Stefanie Carsley (UOttawa law)- “Regulating Reimbursements for Surrogate Mothers” (published in the Alberta Law Review) 

CALT Prize for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 2022 

David Sandomierski (University of Western Ontario) , John Bliss (University of Denver), and Tayzia Collesso (JD, UWO). “Pass for Some, Fail for Others: Law School Grading Changes in the Early Covid-19 Pandemic” (under review for publication)

Honourable mention:

Sarah-jane Nussbaum  "Critique-Inspired Pedagogies in Canadian Criminal Law Casebooks: Challenging 'Doctrine First, Critique Second' Approaches to First-Year Law Teaching" in (2021) 44 Dalhousie Law Review https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/dlj/vol44/iss1/7/ 

 

CALT Prize for Academic Excellence 

This Prize honours exceptional contribution to research and law teaching by a Canadian law teacher in mid-career. 

Winner: Prof. Laverne Jacobs, Professor, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law 

Prof. Jacobs is an accomplished and respected teacher, researcher, administrator and social justice advocate. The Adjudication Committee Chair noted:

"....the number, breadth, depth and remarkable positivity of the reference letters that accompanied Prof. Jacob’s nomination for this prize. Her peers, students and members of her community seemed so excited to have the opportunity to speak enthusiastically to her many accomplishments- they were a pleasure to read, and constituted a real tribute to Prof. Jacob’s broad and enduring impact."

 

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OFFICIAL NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING JUNE 8 2022 3PM-4PM

AVIS OFFICIEL DE L'ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE ANNUELLE/ OFFICIAL NOTICE OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

VEUILLEZ NOTER QUE l'Assemblée Générale Annuelle de l'Association canadienne des professeur(e)s de droit aura lieu le / TAKE NOTICE that the Annual General Meeting of Canadian Association of Law Teachers will be held on 

Mardi le 8 juin 2022, à 1500h HAE    / Tuesday 8 June 2022 at 3 PM EDST

Via Zoom Internet Meetings

Please register in advance for this meeting to  receive a zoom link via email.  Merci de vous inscrire à l'avance.  Vous recevez ensuite un e-mail avec un lien “zoom”: https://yorku.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0vc-GgqD0iHN26dq2ZM7hI1elzyHxFqJ94

Avis présenté ce  27 mai 2022/ Notice given this 27 of May, 2022

 

version .docx version

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UBC Allard School of Law 2022-2023 Global South Visiting Scholar In-Residence || Deadline: June 30, 2022

Tell your friends and please circulate: 

2022-2023 Global South Visiting Scholar In-Residence Program

Call for Applications

Deadline: June 30, 2022

The Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, situated on

the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people, seeks to host

an exceptional scholar from the Global South for a short-term, fully funded visiting scholar in-residence

program. For the purposes of this competition, “Global South” includes all low or middle-income countries

located in Africa, Asia, Central and Latin America, the Middle East, Oceania and the Caribbean.

The successful Global South Visiting Scholar (GSVS) will spend a minimum of two weeks and maximum of

one term in residence at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. For this iteration of the program, the GSVS

must be able to complete this opportunity during the 2023 calendar year. In order to facilitate active

participation in the Law School community, the GSVS must arrange to be in residence during Allard’s

academic year, January-March 2023 or September-November 2023. Preference may be given to

candidates who are able to attend during the January-March 2023 term. As part of their visit, the GSVS is

expected to give lectures, hold sessions with faculty and graduate students, and conduct independent

research. The ideal candidate will be an early to mid-career scholar with a demonstrated commitment to

research and/or legal work in the area of resource extraction and/or land grabs, with a particular focus on

the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Preference will be given to candidates with a

demonstrated interest in international or comparative law.

 

MORE INFORMATION AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS HERE.

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CALT Letter to the Canadian Federation of Law Societies / ACPD Lettre à la Fédération des ordres professionnels de juristes du Canada 

[version fr]

December 23, 2021

Dear Ms. Villeneuve,

Thank you for inviting representatives of CALT to participate in the focus group on the FLSC’s Competency Profile Development project on November 12, 2021. We shared some initial thoughts at the meeting and promised we would follow up by the end of the year.

As you are aware, we have concerns about the Competency Profile and the process that has been adopted to this point.

We are very much aware of, and in agreement with, the need for the renewal of the NCA process. We recognize that the increasing number of entrants to the practice of law who have not received a legal education in Canada is a regulatory challenge for all law societies. However, our concern, as the representative organization for Canadian law professors, is that the solution that you are proposing will inevitably have an impact on the National Requirement for Canadian law schools. While we question the presumption that the NCA process should necessarily impact the National Requirement, the facilitator in the focus group explicitly posited this inter-relationship. Our concerns, which we detail below, focus on what we see as deficiencies in content and process of developing the Competency Profile from the perspective of how it may impact Canadian law schools.

First, CALT is committed to the idea of life-long learning for lawyers, as are most law societies. For us this means there are at least three stages of legal education: academic training, pre-call bar admissions processes or their equivalent, and post-call continuing professional development. For each of these stages to work, there must be respectful collaboration between the law societies and the legal academy. Regrettably, the process that has been adopted to develop the Competency Profile for NCA students falls short of respectful collaboration. From what you have shared with us, it has been ongoing for at least two years without any formal communications with Canadian law schools or bodies representing the legal academy. Moreover, you have indicated that your hope is to complete the profile by February or March 2022, thereby indicating that you believe that most of the work has now been done. Our concern is that any consultations at this stage are too little and too late to be meaningful.  This is especially so given the potential impact on the National Requirement.  In our view, Canadian law schools, individual law professors with subject-matter expertise, and relevant associations of law teachers ought to have been integrated into this process in a more substantial way at a much earlier time. We are also concerned that the current work on the competency profile appears to have overlooked the need to consult with clients and communities, especially justice-seeking communities, about what competencies lawyers ought to have. As we will indicate in our final paragraph what is required is a fundamental rethink and reset of both the process and the aspirations of the project.

Second, our core concern is that by identifying an extremely detailed list of level one competencies, in effect the FLSC is presuming to dictate to law schools, whether they are in Canada or elsewhere, what to teach law students. Law schools have an academic mission that is distinct from the mission of law societies. One of the fundamental responsibilities of law schools, among others, is to help our students, through a variety of perspectives and pedagogical approaches, to think critically about both law and the legal system. However, the idea of critical thinking barely appears in your list of competencies. Rather, the goal seems to be to ensure that students are ‘practice ready’ in a highly technical sense.  In keeping with the idea of a continuum of learning, law schools acknowledge that their programs lay an important foundation for legal practice across the range of knowledge, skills and values required for competent lawyering.  But law schools do not confine themselves to that foundation and can only go so far in that direction.  The foundation laid in law schools enables graduates to be ready to transition to practice, but it does not seek to make them practice ready in the narrow and limited sense spelled out in the draft Competency Profile. In our opinion this is an attempt to unilaterally change the objectives and operations of law schools, specifically by downloading the long-standing responsibilities of the legal profession for transitional practical training to them.

Third, the outlining of 11 domains, each with multiple sub-competencies, will generate numerous problems:

  • If the profile, and all its details, is applied to law schools, it will dictate nearly the entirety of law school course offerings. Students will have to enroll in a substantial number of mandatory courses in all years of study. As such, the profile will limit student choice vis-à-vis their course selections. If students have to fulfill these competencies, there will be little room for them to explore the wide variety of offerings, both substantive and pedagogical, currently available at Canadian law schools. For example, in recent years, in response to student demands, many law schools have begun offering specializations/certificates in certain areas of law. To attain such a certificate, students are required to take a designated number of credits in a given field. This will be impossible to achieve if they must comply with the competency profile as it is currently designed.

 

  • The competency profile itself presumes a uni-dimensional lawyer, because the focus seems to be to prepare lawyers for a traditional vision of generalized solo practice. Solo practitioners are an extremely important part of the legal profession and are often on the front lines of access to justice. However, even solo practise is highly heterogenous and increasingly specialized, and of course many law school graduates do not pursue this practice route at all. They join larger firms, become government lawyers, work in-house, and so on. Moreover, in all of those practise environments there is constant change in legal substance, processes and approaches – which are the focus of the competencies – whereas the deeper capacity for critical thinking, to which law schools are oriented, is an enduring requirement.

We agree  that there should be support for lawyers who seek solo practice, and that law schools can play an important role in establishing foundations for solo practice. But law schools must limit themselves to that foundational role, while also providing a foundation for a broader spectrum of practise environments and in relation to the broader range of contexts in which our graduates may engage.  

  • The competency profile will stymie innovation and modernization of law school curricula. Law schools are very much aware that law and the legal profession are in transition locally, nationally, and internationally. We constantly assess and rework our course offerings to ensure that our students have a legal education that is relevant to a rapidly changing world. The micromanagement and inherent rigidity embedded in the competency profile is ill-suited to such a fluid and forward-looking understanding of the nature and function of university-based legal education.'

 

  • The competency profile will result in a cookie-cutter approach to legal education, whereby each law school will have to offer a roughly similar curriculum. In recent years we have witnessed the increasing diversification of Canadian law schools, as each has pursued its own vision. Rather than embracing this diversity, the profile promotes uniformity and demands conformity.

 

  • The channeling of students into a significant number of mandatory courses will dramatically impair joint academic programs between law and other disciplines such as computer science, Indigenous studies, social work, the humanities, engineering and business administration. It will also negatively affect the potential for students to spend a term on exchange at a university in another country. Both joint programs and exchanges depend on students having a reasonable amount of flexibility in their choice of courses.

 

As we have noted earlier, we envision the relationship between the law societies and universities to be collaborative  and co-operative. To this end we suggest that the next steps should be 1) to create a new level one profile that better encapsulates the objectives of academic legal education and is the product of a partnership between law schools and the law societies and 2) to merge what is currently level 1 with level 2 and ensure that the law societies provide adequate transitional education opportunities prior to the call to the Bar, including, where appropriate, through collaboration with interested law schools (such as through the integrated practise program available in Ontario). Furthermore, in pursuit of the goal of life-long learning, we would also encourage for law societies, perhaps in partnership with law schools where appropriate, to design and deliver robust mandatory continuing professional development programmes.

We trust that this submission will provide a more specific articulation of the concerns of CALT and look forward to further consultation with the FLSC.

 

Richard Devlin & David Wiseman,

On behalf of the Executive of CALT/ACPD

 

 

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Call for Papers/Conference Family Law Reform: Revue de Droit de Université de Sherbrooke

 

 

Call for Papers

Family Law Reform

(special issue scheduled for publication, Summer 2023)

 

Sherbrooke, November 1, 2021

Following the presentation of Bill 2 – Loi portant sur la réforme du droit de la famille en matière de filiation et modifiant le Code civil en matière de droits de la personnalité et d’état civil, October 21, 2021, by the Minister of Justice Simon JolinBarrette, the Faculty of Law of the Université de Sherbrooke will host a one-day conference on this Family Law Reform proposal in the Spring of 2022.

This conference, organized under the direction of Professors Andréanne Malacket (Université de Sherbrooke) and Johanne Clouet (Université de Montréal), will be presided by the Honorable Nicholas Kasirer (Honorary President). It will bring together leading experts who will examine different facets of this substantial reform in private law, notably by addressing its impact on the following subjects:

  • Filiation by blood;
  • Filiation by assisted procreation, including surrogacy;
  • Adoption;
  • Gender identity;
  • Tutorship and parental authority; • The right to know one’s origins.

The preliminary program as well as the date of the conference will be announced within the next few weeks. 

In addition to this conference, the proceedings of which shall be published, the Revue de droit de l’Université de Sherbrooke has decided to issue a general call for papers.

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