Friday, July 6, 2018

David SandomierskiRecent SJD graduate David Sandomierski has received the Governor General's Academic Gold Medal for his work, one of the most prestigious awards for graduate students in Canada. The gold medal is awarded by each university to the graduate students who achieve the highest academic standing.

Sandomierski looked at ways to change the prevailing approach to teaching in law school so that students become more engaged citizens and versatile professionals. 

His dissertation focused on how contract law is taught in first year at law schools across the country (he focused only on common law). He interviewed 67 law faculty and used hundreds of primary documents for his paper.

He says the nearly 150-year-old case method, which teaches students to think like lawyers by examining decisions and arguing both sides, gives “short shrift” to other important skills such as problem-solving and planning. 

Sandomierski, who completed his SJD in 2017, says he was surprised to win the Governor General's award. “It was so validating,” he says. “It's extremely difficult to get a doctorate so I thought simply completing it would be the reward.” 

Sandomierski was a 2017-2018 visiting scholar at York University's Osgoode Law School, and he designed and co-taught a legal inquiry course at McMaster University, a published account of which received a Canadian Association of Law Teachers' award last year. He was also editor-in-chief of the McGill Law Journal, and served as a law clerk to former Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin.

Sandomierski is now an assistant professor at Western University's law school, where he begins teaching this fall.