Instructor(s): Anver Emon

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7049H.

Note: The Quercus program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Quercus as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

Note: This course satisfies the Legal Ethics graduation requirement.

Around the world, in countries that have long been understood as the bulwarks of the Rule of Law, the buttresses of liberal legal commitments have begun to show wear and tear. As Europe casts its minorities as a security threat, as Britain seeks to return Britain to the British, and as the Trump administration aims to Make America Great Again, one cannot help but wonder if we are witnessing the rise of illiberal democracies. For lawyers and the legal profession, this is worrisome given that law is all-too-often the instrument of managing (if not mechanizing) an inclusive liberal legal order, as well as an increasingly exclusionary, illiberal one, as if law is somehow morally neutral as between the two. And where there is law and legal argument, so too are there lawyers. Since 9/11, we have seen lawyers sue governments in the name of liberal rule of law, and lawyers draft memos permitting torture. We have seen lawyers staff airports to counsel immigrants at the border, and have read White House executive orders that were the product of a lawyers pen. Lest Canadians think this is only a problem elsewhere, we must also remember how defense lawyers in Canada can and do racially manipulate jury selection in the name of zealous advocacy.

This course adopts an inter-disciplinary approach to explore the responsibility of lawyers as elite democratic participants. Armed with specialized training, lawyers are not merely citizens. They are charged, if not called, to reflect on the law that ought to be. At least that is the premise of this course. Utilizing certain topics in the more technical field of professional responsibility, this class will draw upon a range of academic fields (political theory, law, ethics, literature) to explore the role of the lawyer in todays liberal democratic society.

3 written responses of 750 words each (30%), in-class participation (10%), and an eight-hour take-home exam (60%).

At a Glance

First Term


64 JD


W: 2:10 - 4:00