Friday, December 14, 2018
Winter scene of the Faculty of Law's Jackman Law Building looking north from Hoskin Ave. and through the Bennett Gates

Dear Alumni and Friends, 

It's been another tremendous year at the Faculty of Law! As winter and the joy of the holiday season begins with family and friends, I would like to share my reflections on another remarkable year at your law school.

Celebrations abound
Once again, we celebrated Reunion in the Jackman Law Building, this year with two days of events. More than 500 of our alumni from years ending in 3 and 8 reminisced with their classmates, had special class lunches and dinners, and listened to our panel on the Future of Legal Education and the Profession, featuring Professors Benjamin Alarie, Lisa Austin, Gillian Hadfield and myself. Reunion is one of the Faculty of Law's premier events, and we so enjoy seeing you return to the law school.

We celebrated a special Convocation in November. We can now count a U.S. Supreme Court Justice among our global and remarkable alumni. We all enjoyed the privilege of hearing from sitting SCOTUS justice, Justice Elena Kagan, in her conversations with Prof. Yasmin Dawood at Convocation, and later at the Faculty with our alumna Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella. Insightful, direct and engaging, they provided much comparative thought about our two court systems. You can view the conversation between two of the world's leading jurists on our YouTube channel,

Best and brightest students
Bright and engaged as ever, our newest JD student cohort of just over 200 first-year law students, out of more than 2,300 who applied, are an impressive group, with a median GPA of 3.9 (out of 4.0) and median LSAT score percentiles in the mid-nineties. They come from diverse personal and academic backgrounds (80% are the first in their family to attend law school, 60% have parents or guardians who were born outside of Canada, 35% are students of colour) and I encourage you to read the latest statistics on our Class of 2021 as well as find out more about some of these wonderful students.

This year's graduate students, another outstanding cohort, come from more than 16 countries. They are an accomplished group who could have chosen any number of law schools at which to complete their graduate studies. Last year, for example, our grad students were awarded 17 prestigious external grants. Recent SJD graduate David Sandomierski won a Governor General's Academic Gold Medal, and six recent SJD alumni started full-time faculty positions with Canadian law schools this fall.

Our JD students performed brilliantly in the annual Grand Moot, looking at the issue of representative juries. Students were also immersed in researching and working alongside faculty at the Asper Centre, Aboriginal Legal Services, the IHRP, Downtown Legal Services, and startup Blue J Legal (which recently raised US$7 million in financing and is expanding south of the border), among others. They actively paid it forward at our myriad outreach events: Welcome Day, to put the new admits at ease and warmly introduce them to the Faculty of Law; See Yourself Here, to attract students from under-represented communities to law school; Leadership by Design, for African-Caribbean youth visiting the law school; fundraising for the Barbra Schlifer clinic with a #MeToo workshop that expanded into a sold-out panel event with local lawyers and Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley; and hosting the first, and student-led, Holocaust Education Week and panel. Watch the video here.

We were proud once again to see our students chosen to be clerks. This year, amongst other wonderful outcomes, U of T had 6 of 36 Supreme Court of Canada clerks and 7 of 19 Court of Appeal for Ontario clerks—more than 23% of these prestigious clerkships went to our law students!

And in a best-ever showing in university intramural sports, our law students picked up prominent U of T awards for participation, leadership and overall performance. More than 140 law students—the highest ever—were active in various leagues. This is a remarkable sign of balancing school demands with health and wellness, and community engagement. The U of T banners were proudly displayed here at the Faculty!

Convocation 2018, held on June 8th, celebrated our graduating class. More than 200 graduates walked across the dais at Convocation Hall to officially become Faculty of Law alumni, and later joyfully marked the occasion with classmates, faculty, family and friends. They are poised for interesting, meaningful and varied careers, and I look forward to hearing their stories in the future. Former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin was our Speaker, a tremendous honour for the Faculty. View the ceremony and her speech here.

These new graduates join you to form part of an outstanding alumni group of leaders across the fields of law, business, government, academia, public service, the non-profit sector and more. All of you make us so proud of your successes! In addition to these achievements, I am pleased to update you on our core scholarship and teaching activities.

Thought leadership and scholarship
Professor Lisa Austin was recognized with U of T's inaugural President's Impact Award, one of seven, for her work in privacy rights. Professor Carol Rogerson was awarded one of the 10 in 10 Awards of Excellence in Family Justice by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (Ontario Chapter), given to individuals or institutions to acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the field of family law and justice in this province; Professor Yasmin Dawood was named a member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists; Professor Karen Knop was awarded the British Academy Fellowship for her "Peace Cases and Peace Camps" project. We also welcomed Associate Professor Chris Essert, JD 2005, a property rights and equality scholar, to the Faculty of Law, and we welcomed back Professor Gillian Hadfield, a globally renowned authority on the intersection between law and technology.

Our stellar faculty were also busy at work sharing their thought leadership and expertise with faculty, students, the legal profession and the wider public. Thanks to Professor Anita Anand and Professor Adriana Robertson for relaunching the long-standing and renowned Faculty of Law tradition, the Corporate and Commercial Law Workshop, which Professor Emeritus Jacob Ziegler launched more than 50 years ago. Professor Trudo Lemmens, together with Health Law in Canada and U of T's Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation, hosted a debate, and the conference Regulating Creation and the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, part of the Mary and Philip Seeman Health Law Policy and Ethics Seminar series. You can watch a video of the debate here. We probed tough topics, such as the Many Perspectives on the #MeToo movement, held on International Women's Day, March 8th. It was reported on CBC Radio and Canadian Lawyer, and live-tweeted by many. We made national and international headlines with the numerous op-eds our faculty penned on a whole range of issues, in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Policy Options,, and Washington Post, to name a few.

We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, unique in its advocacy and experiential learning for students, with a special panel of top constitutional litigators—and past Asper Centre Litigators in Residence—Joseph Arvay and Mary Eberts, with former SCC Justice Thomas Cromwell moderating. We're so very proud of the Asper Centre's accomplishments—46 constitutional roundtables, 21 student working groups, 20 interventions at the Supreme Court of Canada, 10 conferences and symposia and seven Constitutional Litigators-in-Residence. And we're tremendously grateful to alumnus David Asper for his vision and continued support, including a recent and additional $2.5 million gift to support student bursaries and the Asper Centre.

In addition, our International Human Rights Program once again made international headlines with an important report, Bots at the Gate, on Canada's adoption of artificial intelligence in immigration, arguing this has serious human rights implications.

And we celebrated the seventh anniversary of the Indigenous Initiatives Office, an auspicious number for many Indigenous Nations. In the seven years since its official launch, the IIO's programming has grown significantly, providing a robust and supportive community for Indigenous students at the Faculty of Law.

Global reputation
Our strengths in teaching and learning have not gone unnoticed. I'm pleased to report your alma mater continues to do well in international rankings, most recently placing 11th in the Times Higher Education ranking of global law schools. As I have said before, we remain focused on educational excellence and high-impact scholarship, not rankings, of course, but it's certainly a gratifying reflection of the international reputation of our law school.

All of this incredible activity—and much more!—has occurred in our beautiful and functional home, the Jackman Law Building. We were proud to participate in Doors Open 2018 for the first time, where prominent architectural buildings in Toronto open to the public for a behind-the-scenes look. More than 1,220 people visited over the two-day event to see Flavelle House and the Jackman Law Building, and learn about our history.

Our students, faculty and community continue to benefit from the outstanding spaces made possible by the generosity of our alumni, and we are forever grateful for your support of this law school.

Campaign for Excellence without Barriers
Finally, on September 27th we officially launched the Campaign for Excellence without Barriers, focused on deepening student financial aid. We celebrated with students, faculty, and alumni donors. It gives me great pleasure to confirm that we have raised more than $25 million to date of our $30 million goal! We specifically aim to raise $20 million for student financial aid, and have raised more than $15 million to date. I'd like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who gave, and encourage others to give as well, to this important campaign. We're counting on you to help us get us over the finish line—with your help, and the guidance of our lead campaign volunteers, I know we can do it. Here's how.

I hope this reflection on a fantastic 2018 shines a light on the remarkable place our law school fills in Canada and the world. As an alumnus, faculty member and now dean, I am proud and privileged to be leading the Faculty of Law and grateful to be associated with this wonderful community.

From all of us here at the Faculty of Law, our very best for this Holiday Season. See you in 2019!


Edward Iacobucci, '96
Dean and James M. Tory Professor of Law