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

Response to CBA Report on Legal Education in Canada

Dear Colleagues,

We have received significant feedback from CALT members on the need to respond to public reports that comment on or affect legal education in Canada. One of these reports is the Canadian Bar Association’s August 2014 “Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada” (“Futures Report“). CALT was approached to comment on the report earlier, but for various reasons was unable to do so. We are now in a position to begin consulting our membership and other interested parties on this and other reports. 

We chose the CBA Futures Report because of its comments on legal education, mostly contained in Part 7 between pages 53 and 65. 

CALT invites comments from all legal educators and CALT members. All comments should be sent to Gemma Smyth ([email protected]) on or before February 27, 2015. Comments can be wide ranging, but should relate directly to comments made in the Futures Report and those affecting Canadian legal education, widely defined. 

Upon receipt of comments, the CALT Executive will compile the responses into its own Report that reflects the views of its membership and other law teachers. The Report will be circulated for comments before being send to the Canadian Bar Association.  

Thank you,

CALT Executive


The State of Canadian Socio-legal Research

In 1979, SSHRC received only two applications for funding from legal scholars. Concerned about the state of an academic discipline that was apparently disinterested in research, and with the endorsement of the CALT and the Committee of Canadian Law Deans, SSHRC appointed the Consultative Group on Research and Education in Law to investigate. The CGREL report, Law and Learning (1983), advocated the intensification of scholarly activities in Canadian law faculties. More specifically, it sought to legitimize and reinforce trends towards socio-legal teaching and research that had been developing in Canadian universities since the 1960s.

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CALT Awards for Academic Excellence and Best Scholarly Paper – Submission Deadline February 23, 2015

CALT is pleased to announce that it is accepting nominations for its annual awards. The deadline for nominations is February 23, 2015.


Personal Plight Legal Practice and Tomorrow’s Lawyers

“Will I find a job as a lawyer, and will it be the kind of job I really want?” Most law teachers have heard these or similar questions from their students. Anxiety about career prospects is neither surprising nor entirely new. However recent media reports and buzz within the profession have given tomorrow’s lawyers two additional things to worry about: offshoring and computerization.

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Clinical and Doctrinal Approaches to Teaching and Learning

Clinical and doctrinal approaches to teaching and learning have not always been happy companions in the pedagogical life of a law school. Often cast as a-critical or a-contextual skills training better left to articling, clinical learning is seen by some to lack the gravitas of doctrinal approaches. In 2013, I began a series of interviews with clinicians and clinical law students across Ontario that very clearly showed the gap between doctrinal and clinical learning. When asked what knowledge and skill law students brought to the clinic, the most common response from both law students and clinicians was “none”. While this response might point to difficulties with knowledge transfer rather than the actual content of law school courses, these answers were – for me – startling. Clinicians also noted the difficulty in educating students on introductory skills (understanding retainers and interviewing clients, how to detect a conflict of interest, speaking to a motion). Many were eager to delve into critical lawyering and radicalized approaches to teaching and learning, particularly about ethics and professionalism, poverty, and social justice approaches to practice. However, the skills and knowledge barrier made such approaches more challenging.

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Message de la présidente Annie Rochette

Dear Colleagues,

It is my great pleasure to be writing to you in my capacity as the new CALT president, elected at the June AGM in Winnipeg. Gemma Smyth, from the Windsor Law Faculty, was elected as the Vice-President. Derek McKee agreed to stay on as our Secretary-Treasurer for yet another year. Thanks to the efforts of past president Shauna Van Praagh, we have a large Executive this year representing almost every province. The Executive has four main committees: a website committee, membership committee, policy committee and annual conference committee. As usual, we also have graduate student representatives on the executive.

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Creating a Pro-Friendly Classroom

While there is much discussion about anti-bullying in schools, I think the focus needs to go beyond how to combat the menace of bullying and move to the next stage. My idea is to not just alleviate bullying and make the classroom a neutral setting but to create a pro-friendly classroom, one in which the focus is not just on being civil but being friendly. Also, I am very interested in exploring how to make classrooms a ‘safe space’ for the exchange of ideas and tolerance but also ‘friendly spaces’ in that creating a warm, happy environment for students might help to foster learning. This may be a tall order at a law school but I have hope. The idea that I am working on is something akin to anti-bullying but more along the lines of ‘pro-friendly’.

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