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
- Laverne Jacobs – Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor and lead author and General Editor Law and Disability in Canada: Cases and Materials. Lexis Nexis 2021.
- 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),  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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Teaching Wellbeing in Law: June 1, 1-335PM online.
Brandon Stewart (Dalhousie) and Lynda Collins (Ottawa) are inviting people to join in on June 1, 2021 from 1:00-3:35pm EST for an online symposium on Teaching Wellbeing in the Law.
Speakers will include:
- Professor Marilyn Poitras (University of Saskatchewan), who created Canada’s first law school course in “Happiness and the Law” and now directs the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan
- Professor Rhonda Magee (University of San Francisco), author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming our Communities through Mindfulness
- Professor Thomas Telfer (Western University), who teaches “Mindfulness and the Legal Profession”
- Daniel Lussier-Meek (University of Ottawa), Director of Indigenous and Community Relations
- Professor Brandon Stewart (Dalhousie University), co-author of “Engendering Hope in Environmental Law Students”
- Professor Jordana Confino (Fordham University), who teaches a course on Positive Lawyering
- Professor Karen Ragoonaden (University of British Columbia), who is an expert in Mindful Approaches to Anti-Oppression Pedagogy
- Professor Lynda Collins (University of Ottawa), who teaches “Happiness and the Law”
- Heather Cross, Appellate lawyer and teacher of “Mindfulness in the Law”
Below you can find both connection information and a working program. Please direct any questions related to the symposium to [email protected]Read more
CALT Webinar Series
We are pleased to announce the following events for the CALT webinar series. Please click on each link for more details:
- Teaching Canadian Tort Law in Its Social Context (September 30)
- Critical Perspectives in Tax and Business Law: A Roundtable on Legal Pedagogy (October 21)
Civil procedure and racism : a virtual coffee hour
CALT is honoured to host this event as part of its ongoing webinar series, on Monday, July 13, 2020, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., EDST, via Zoom:
This session will bring together individuals teaching civil procedure and related subjects to discuss how they might address issues of anti-black and other racism during the 2020-2021 school year. The session aims to enable self-reflection and collaborative thinking. The listed contributors will not try to offer definitive answers. Instead, they will prepare a list of questions to guide the discussion, will seek to elicit ideas from the participants, and will offer some of their own ideas for how they plan to address these subjects. The session aims to foster a community of civil procedure teachers across Canada who are committed to race-conscious teaching and learning and who will continue to learn from one another.
Forum on Law Teaching and Learning in the COVID Context
The Canadian Association of Law Teachers held two online fora (in “roundtable” format) on law teaching and learning in the COVID context.
The COVID pandemic of 2020 has compelled law faculties to move to online teaching and prompted other major changes, such as modified evaluation schemes. What lessons can law teachers draw from these unprecedented shifts? What further needs are arising, and how should we be trying to meet those needs? What is likely to be the lasting impact? While we lament the circumstances, have we gained any valuable insights or perhaps discovered new approaches that are worth preserving?
The English version took place on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 from 1PM to 3PM EDST.