Instructor(s): Peter Rosenthal

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7037HF.

Note: This course is offered in alternate years.

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

This course will consider some ways in which litigation can be a useful tool in struggles for progressive social change. During the first several weeks we will discuss a variety of positions on the positive and negative aspects of litigation, relationships between litigation and political organizing, and techniques of advocacy appropriate to the pursuit of political objectives. This part of the course will draw upon readings in "critical legal studies" and other academic literature.

The bulk of the course will consist of student projects. Early in the semester, each student will design a project in consultation with the instructor. The instructor will provide some suggestions of possible topics, but students are also encouraged to propose their own. A wide variety of topics would be suitable. For example, possibilities would include aspects of the general problem, such as using litigation as a political platform, creative ways of using court demeanor and procedures, or the limits of litigation. Other projects might analyze past, current or proposed cases. For example, a study might be made of the role of the women's movement in leading to the finding that Canada's abortion law was unconstitutional. The idea of developing possible torts of racial and sexual harassment might be explored. The potential of litigation for policing the police could be investigated. In some instances it may be possible for the student to work with a practitioner or a community group involved in preparing a case.

Class participation 30% (10% contribution to class discussion, 20% seminar presentation), and a research paper of approximately 6000 to 7500 words (70%).

At a Glance

First Term
Perspective course



20 JD


Th: 4:10 - 6:00