Friday, December 20, 2019

Dean Edward Iacobucci

It is the time of year when our thoughts turn to celebrating the holiday season with family and friends. Among my personal year-end traditions, I enjoy sharing with you a reflection on another remarkable year at your Law school, as we look ahead to further success in 2020.

Global Top 10
Earlier this fall, we shared the exciting news that the Times Higher Education (THE) has ranked U of T Law 10th in the world–a rare honour for a Canadian academic institution. This is a reflection of many things, including the global reach of our community, with reputation accounting for more than 30% of the ranking's methodology.

This is indeed gratifying news, but even as the top ranked law school in Canada, and the only Ontario law school in the top 50, our ambition will always be sharply focused on excellence, not rankings.

Celebrations, honours and outstanding achievements
Alumni are our greatest ambassadors. Their accomplishments and successes reflect positively on the law school, inspire our students and contribute to our global reach and influence. We could not possibly review all of the distinctions realized by alumni this year, but here are a few.

Barbara Jackman (LLB 1976) and Brent Belzberg (LLB 1975) were named Members of the Order of Canada. Canadian Lawyer's Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers list for 2019 included: Peter Nguyen (JD 2000), Shara Roy (JD 2003), and Hilda Wong (JD 1991). Michael Dineen (LLB 2002) was recognized with a U of T Arbor Award for his contributions as a volunteer to the University.

The Hon. Rosalie Silberman Abella (LLB 1970), Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, was honoured on October 2 as the 2019 Rose Wolfe Distinguished Alumni Award recipient in recognition of her outstanding achievements, dedication to charitable and social causes, and extraordinary service to the University of Toronto. The heartfelt ceremony was held in a venue named in her honour-the Rosalie Silberman Abella Moot Court Room. Watch the ceremony 

There also is no shortage of notable career achievements by our alumni. For example, there are a number of judicial appointments to celebrate. Amy D. Francis (LLB 1999) and David A. Crerar (LLB 1997) were both appointed Justices of the Supreme Court of British Columbia; Nicholas E. Devlin (LLM 1998) was appointed a Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta; Shaun O'Brien (LLB 1998) and Paul Schabas (LLB 1984) were both appointed as Justices of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice; and David E. Spiro (LLB 1987) was appointed a judge of the Tax Court of Canada.

Again, this is far from an exhaustive list, and we would love for you to share your achievements with us by contacting

We had another record-breaking attendance at our alumni reunion on October 25. The Jackman Law Building was abuzz with 538 alumni at our reception, followed by class dinners recognizing years ending in 4 and 9. The class of 2014 had the largest turnout with 70 class members!

In 2020 we will celebrate years 5 and 0, and look forward to seeing you return to your law school.

Student highlights
The best and brightest students continue to choose U of T Law. Our newest JD student cohort of just over 200 first-year law students, out of more than 2,100 who applied, have a median GPA of 3.8 (out of 4.0) and median LSAT score percentiles in the mid-nineties. As we continue to focus our recruitment efforts on diversity and inclusion, 33% of our first year students were born outside of Canada, and 35% are students of colour. Read the latest statistics on our Class of 2022, and the experiences of some of our incoming JD class.

This year's LLM and SJD graduate students are also indicative of our global standing. International student enrolment in these programs was 57%, and students in these programs were the recipients of 20 prestigious external grants. In less than a decade our executive education program, the Global Professional LLM (GPLLM), has more than quadrupled from 26 students in 2011-12 to 120 in the current cohort. The class averages a minimum of 10 years of prior work experience, and the skills they develop in this program will have impact in multiple sectors including government, consulting and professional services, real estate and healthcare industries, to name just a few.

Our student mooters once again gave a fantastic public display of excellence at the Grand Moot, as they tackled jury representation and the Charter. Earlier in the year, our law students brought home top place in the Davies' Corporate/Securities Moot and the Harold G. Fox Intellectual Property Moot, plus numerous kudos for best oralists, factums and more.

U of T Law had six Supreme Court of Canada clerks selected, and 11 chosen for Court of Appeal clerkships in various provinces across Canada.

Our students are as engaged as ever, researching and working alongside faculty at the Indigenous Initiatives Office, the Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, start-up Blue J Legal, and the International Human Rights Program, just to name some of our many programs and opportunities. The legal arguments and research generated by U of T Law students during a criminal law externship focused on appellate and Supreme Court cases have contributed to a number of benchmark appellate and Supreme Court victories. Pro Bono Students Canada, founded and based out of U of T Law, has been recognized with the 2019 Emil Gumpert Award for its ground-breaking proposal to create two pilot Indigenous human rights clinics in Ontario.

The Indigenous Initiatives Office, now in its eighth year, continues to provide a supportive community for Indigenous students, and shares Indigenous knowledge across our community through many events and activities open to all Law students. Earlier this year, the office unveiled an Indigenous languages art installation.

Our students are also actively paying it forward at outreach events, such as at our inaugural Black Future Lawyers conference, which was open to any undergraduate student, and drew participants from as far away as Montreal. Visit the Black Future Lawyers Program website to learn more about this important new program. Students also volunteer at the annual See Yourself Here day, another popular outreach event, to attract students from underrepresented communities to law school. And at our annual Welcome Day event, student volunteers helped put the newly admitted students at ease and warmly introduced them to the Faculty. Six student leaders were recognized with U of T's Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards this past spring. Read about their contributions.

At spring convocation, held on June 7, our newest graduates became part of our alumni community. Among our 200 JD, masters, and doctoral graduates, our alumnus, the Hon. Michael Moldaver of the Supreme Court of Canada was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from U of T. Watch the ceremony here.

His inspiring advice to the graduating class:

"Be bold. Be courageous. Go forward with confidence. Never lose sight of your hopes and dreams and aspirations. Be creative. Be willing to think out of the box. Be prepared to take calculated risks for the betterment of humanity and the betterment of society."

Experts, educators and researchers
The strength of any great university is directly tied to the quality of its professoriate, and we are tremendously proud of our faculty. They not only change the world with their research, but they are committed and excellent teachers.

Professor Audrey Macklin, Chair in Human Rights Law, received the Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize. The Asper Centre's executive director Cheryl Milne and Professor Carol Rogerson, a foremost scholar in family law, each received Law Society of Ontario medals. Carol was also awarded one of the 10 in 10 Awards of Excellence in Family Justice. Professor Ayelet Shachar was awarded a 2019 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the top research award in Germany. And University Professor Arthur Ripstein received one of two JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Awards.

Professor Gillian Hadfield, a globally renowned authority on the intersection between law and technology, was named the inaugural director and chair of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society. The Institute will bring together leading scholars to better understand the benefits and challenges that artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and other technological advances present for our economy, our society and our day-to-day lives.

Many alumni have served in provincial and federal office, and we wish alumna and professor (now on leave from the University) Anita Anand all the best in her role as MP and the federal minister of public services and procurement. She joins the Honourable Bill Graham as members of faculty who have served in Parliament.

Our world-renowned International Human Rights Program joined the Global Partnership to Protect Media Freedom, as reported in the Globe and Mail. IHRP brought together many expert panels including Technological Experiments in the Digital Age, Feminist Advocacy and the Law, the Future of Canada-Hong Kong Relations and a book launch and photo exhibit commemorating 25 years since Rwandan genocide. U of T Law students also worked with Amnesty International to verify conflict zone videos.

Our faculty also serve as experts for the media, writing commentary in numerous print and online publications this year, including the Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star. To take but two examples, University Professor David Dyzenhaus discussed the meaning of the Rule of Law on CBC Radio's 'Sunday Edition', and a book by Professor Kent Roach Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case, was featured by multiple media outlets.

Campaign for Excellence without Barriers
Just over a year ago on September 27, 2018, we publically launched the Campaign for Excellence without Barriers to deepen our student financial aid resources and support for our students more generally.

My deepest appreciation to the alumni, friends, companies and foundations that have generously supported the Faculty of Law this year. We have enjoyed tremendous momentum that I see no signs of letting up. I am confident that we will continue to see our alumni and friends make donations over the holiday season that will help us achieve our ambitious goal of raising $30 million overall, and $20 million for student financial aid. This first-of-its-kind campaign will officially close on December 31, 2019. I encourage you to join this momentous campaign by making a contribution and being a part of this historic milestone for the Faculty of Law and its students.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to our donors and campaign volunteers who have supported the campaign to date, or made other gifts to U of T Law this year. We look forward to celebrating the campaign's close with our supporters in the early half of 2020.

I enjoy looking back and sharing with you just a few of the many highlights of 2019. As both an alumnus and dean of this Faculty, I am very proud and fortunate to be part of the U of T Law community.

Best wishes for the Holidays, and for health and happiness throughout the coming year.


Edward Iacobucci (LLB 1996)
Dean and James M. Tory Professor of Law