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Archive for the ‘Legal Education’ Columns

Academic Freedom and the Israel-Hamas War

As a faculty member of Simon Fraser University, I recently participated in a SFU Faculty Association vote on a motion “calling upon SFU to divest from Israeli commercial interests, suspend partnerships with Israeli universities, and offer concrete support for Palestinian faculty and students.” Such motions have been common across universities around the world during the “situation in Gaza,” as the motion calls it. The inordinate loss of life and suffering of the Israel-Hamas War has led to campus disruptions that have not been seen since the Vietnam War roiled campuses more than half-a century ago (during my student days at . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Education

Empowering Change: Black Law Students Enrolment in Canadian Law Schools

Last week’s journey to Toronto with the University of Calgary’s Black law students for the 33rd National Conference of the Black Law Students Association of Canada (BLSAC) was more than a trip; it was a profound emotional journey for both me and my students. This event was not just a conference; it was a historic gathering of some 600 Black law students (and aspiring Black law students), the largest of its kind in the annals of BLSAC, marking the biggest assembly of Black law students in the entire history of Canada. In a profession where Black individuals and people of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Hopefulness in Times of Hate – Letters to and From a Law School

It has been challenging times for law students these last several years. The current 3L cohort began their studies in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and has been attending law school in times of economic uncertainty, technological change and heated world conflicts. Recently, students have been struggling with processing the crisis in the Middle East including the deadly and horrific terror attacks of Hamas on Israeli civilians, its hostage taking, the ensuing devastating Israeli military action and the death of too many Palestinians. Our student communities are suffering. So many of them have friends, relatives and loved ones . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Discussions of Professional Identity in Legal Education

Picture a lawyer. Was he a male or was she a female lawyer? Was the lawyer wearing a suit? Was the suit black or blue? Even if you’re a huge fan of the film Legally Blonde, I doubt you pictured Elle Woods in her pink suit. In the movie, Elle stuck out like a sore thumb among her more conservatively dressed classmates. This fall, as students begin their legal education, some of them will face deep insecurities and will not see themselves as lawyers. Schools can give students the space to talk about their perception of professional identity and encourage . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Thoughts From the Classroom: Addressing Generative AI and Legal Research & Writing

Generative AI will disrupt legal research. Its negative impact has been highlighted in mainstream media in the UK and the US. Many legal information professionals have valid concerns about how generative AI’s application in legal research may impact the integrity of the profession. Meanwhile, social media (e.g., LinkedIn and Twitter) is flooded with legal tech companies’ commentary on how it can be harnessed to streamline legal research, improving efficiency and productivity. I reached out to several colleagues to hear their thoughts and ideas on how to address this contentious topic in their legal research classrooms.

Determining whether the impact . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Books to Read Before Law School – an Essential Summer Reading List

This book list was curated to offer those on the cusp of law school a summer reading list packed with important insights, presented in a manner that would not put them to sleep. It turned out to have something for everyone. Whether you prefer e-books or the old fashion flipping of pages, here are five must-reads for the summer months…

Bob Joseph, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (Canada: Raincoast Books, 2018) ISBN: 9780995266520

Why read it this summer?

Because, as Misha Munim puts it, “this book . . . [more]

Posted in: Book Reviews, Legal Education, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Statutory Publication Metaphor: Robin Hood

One of the most difficult parts of statutory research for beginners is learning that statutes are published in two formats: chronological laws and codified laws. In the US, federal legislation is first published as a slip opinion and then bound into a volume of the Statutes at Large. These documents are useful for a researcher who wants to answer questions about intent or statutory language, as you want to see the entire law as it appeared when it was passed. However, most of the time a legal researcher merely needs to know what the law is at this moment on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Attending Law School in a Global Pandemic: Reflections on Competency in the “Pandemic Class”

In the 2020-2021 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools to shift from deeply traditional in-person pedagogical methods to fully online learning. To say the least, students entering law school in 2020 (the “pandemic class”) had a markedly different law school experience than their pre-pandemic counterparts. From a lack of in-person learning to the challenge of blended work-life spaces, how did attending law school in a global pandemic affect the competencies of students in the pandemic class? Researchers will likely explore this complex question in the years to come. In the meantime, here are some reflections from one soon-to-be . . . [more]

Posted in: Law Student Week, Legal Education, Practice of Law

Let’s Chat About ChatGPT

Three months ago, I had never heard of ChatGPT. Now, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t find myself talking about it. How will it impact teaching? What about exams? And most importantly of all, how will it affect the practice of law and the work of the judiciary – for in the end, that’s what will determine the answers to the first two questions.

The locus classicus when it comes to the adoption of new innovations is a 1962 book by Everett Rogers, a professor of sociology at the Ohio State University, Diffusion of Innovations. In his . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Make Your Presentations Sing! Six Lessons From the Musical SIX

Why is the average powerpoint presentation painfully dull while the average musical is something theatergoers will pay loads of money to experience? How is it that the musical genre can take a topic like Alexander Hamilton or the six wives of Henry VIII and make textbook history into a memorable hit? Aside from the obvious advantages of singing, dancing, and glitzy costumes, the musical SIX gives us a clearly defined roadmap: we will tell you the stories of the six wives of Henry VIII, in order. This roadmap is repeated a few times during the show, cementing the women’s stories . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information

Remembering Peter Hogg (1939-2020)

As the fall law school term wound down, I found myself thinking about Peter Hogg. With the Alberta Sovereignty Act, the notwithstanding clause and Quebec and Saskatchewan unilaterally amending the Constitution, I’m sure I was not alone. When you teach Constitutional Law in this country, it is hard not to think about Peter Hogg. Like many, I was fortunate to have known Peter and although I never took a class with him, I very much consider myself a student of Peter Hogg. I benefitted from his mentorship and his teaching for two decades, until his untimely death in February . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

On Time in Teaching

Timing is one of the hardest parts of teaching. At the very beginning of lesson planning, I sometimes have the fear that I cannot fill the time, but my more common problem is having too much content and too little time. I’ve learned to plan my timing down to five-minute increments, to hold a pause for questions far longer than I would like, and to set expectations and then set a visible timer.

When I write or revise my class plans, I mark the parts of the plan with time limits, rounded to the nearest five minutes. Normally, I think . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education, Legal Information