Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Another academic year of incredible activity at the Faculty of Law


After another eventful and successful academic year, I am writing to share the highlights of life at your law school. We've been characteristically busy with much research, teaching and learning, so this is by no means a comprehensive list!

We welcomed another brilliant student cohort from across Canada and beyond last fall with median LSAT scores in the mid-90s percentile range and a median GPA of 3.8 on a 4.0 scale. They've studied a wide range of academic subjects for their undergraduate degree, and represent a diversity not only across Canada but around the world: 23% of first-year students were born outside of Canada; 33% identified as people of colour and 14% as LGBTQ2S.

It is a privilege to work with these amazing students, and see how they learn and grow. In addition to their impressive academic learning, our students are more engaged than ever in co-curricular activities: researching and working alongside faculty and staff at the Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights (now 10 years old), the International Human Rights Program (which celebrated its 30th in September), tech start-up Blue J Legal, mooting and other clinics and co-curricular programming.

Our students enthusiastically volunteer at Faculty of Law outreach events, such as “See Yourself Here,” to attract students from under-represented communities to law school; at our “Welcome Day” event, to put the new admits at ease and warmly introduce them to the Faculty of Law; and fundraising for the Barbra Schlifer Clinic with a #MeToo workshop that expanded into a sold-out panel event with local lawyers, and filmmaker Sarah Polley. Watch the video here.

An all-women team in October's Grand Moot—a first!—gave an impressive display of advocacy, and more recently, our students brought home top place in the Laskin Moot and the Davies Corporate/Securities Moot, plus numerous kudos for Best Oralists, Factums and more at a range of moots, confirming our long-standing reputation for a remarkable mooting program.

I hope this update on the myriad activities of 2017-2018 tells a compelling story of the remarkable place our law school fills in Canada and the world. As an alumnus, faculty member and now dean, I am so grateful to be associated with this wonderful community.

Once again, our students dominated in the round of clerkship placements with U of T students receiving 6 of 36 Supreme Court clerkships and 7 of 19 at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Almost 25 per cent of these prestigious clerkships went to our students.

And, illustrating their versatility beyond the books, in a best-ever showing in 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 great sign of balancing school demands with health and wellness and community engagement. The U of T banners are proudly displayed here at the Faculty.

Our scholars continue to contribute their thought-leadership, and almost every day there's an op-ed or interview in local, national, or international media highlighting the world-class legal thinking generated by our faculty. Most recently, Ariel Katz wrote about data governance in a digital age in the Financial Post, and Anita Anand on the importance of regulatory oversight of proxy advisory firms in the Globe and Mail.

Prestigious recognitions continue to pour in: Lisa Austin was among the first scholars to be recognized with the U of T President's Impact Award for her privacy law research; Mariana Mota Prado received a Connaught Global Challenge award to work on Smart Cities; Jutta Brunnée was elected to the renowned Institut de Droit International (only 132 members in the world) and will be giving the Hague Lectures in International Law; Michael Trebilcock was the only Canadian academic invited to present at the International Monetary Fund's annual meeting in Washington, DC; Arthur Ripstein was invited to give the Tanner Lectures at UC Berkeley; Kent Roach won the Molson Prize and Audrey Macklin received a Trudeau Foundation Fellowship.

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 among the Top 10 law schools in the Times Higher Education ranking, a highly respected list. The Times looked at law as a discipline for the first time last fall. Of course, our ambitions remain focused on excellence in legal education and scholarship, not rankings, but it's certainly a great reflection of the global reputation of our law school. Read our story here.

All of this incredible activity—and much more—has occurred in the Jackman Law Building, our beautiful and functional home. We were proud to participate in Doors Open 2018 for the first time, where prominent architectural buildings in Toronto throw open their doors 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. We celebrated with many alumni last fall, when we held our premier event, Reunion, for the first time in the new building. More than 500 alumni attended, a record turnout! View Reunion photos here.

Another wonderful event was Convocation 2018, held on June 8th. More than 200 graduates walked across the dais at Convocation Hall to officially become Faculty of Law alumni, and later joyfully celebrate together 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 a stellar alumni group, an unparalleled community of leaders across the fields of law, business, government, academia, public service and more. All of you make us so proud of your successes! It would be impossible to list all your achievements in the last year, but here's a small sampling:

We now have four alumni on the current Supreme Court of Canada, with the appointment of Justice Sheilah L. Martin, SJD 1991; The Hon. Louis LeBel, LLM 1966 and Jocelyn Downie, LLB 1993, were named to the Order of Canada; five alumnae were named among Canada's Top 100 most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network (Joanna Rotenberg, JD/MBA 2001, Andrea Stairs, JD/MBA 2000, Melinda Park, LLB 1991, Lisa Philipps, LLB 1986, Carol E. Derk, LLB 1984); nine alumni were selected among the 2017 Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers annual ranking by Canadian Lawyer; the Hon. Bill Graham, LLB 1964, was named the 2017 Global Citizen Laureate by the UN and received an honorary degree from U of T at Convocation; Maggie Wente, LLB/MSW 2002, and Bryce Edwards, LLB 2002, received Arbor Awards, U of T's highest award for volunteers; Reem Bahdi, LLB 1996, LLM 2001, received the Guthrie Award from the Law Foundation of Ontario; Arleen Huggins, LLB 1989, received the Women's Law Association's President's Award; Adam Dodek, LLM 2008, dean of Ottawa's Common Law School, was awarded the Mundell Medal for legal writing; Atrisha Lewis, JD 2012, Daniel Naymark, JD 2008, and Marianna Salih, JD 2014, were named Precedent Setters (out of six in total!) by Precedent Magazine. I could go on and on of course, but our website is full of all this news and more.

The Faculty of Law continues to shine, and the future looks even brighter. Our work continues, however. Structural deficits are a challenging reality at the University of Toronto and Canadian educational institutions generally, but we are confident that with careful decisions, and with help from our alumni and friends, we will continue to be both an excellent and accessible institution. Close to 50% of our students qualify for and receive financial aid, and the Faculty's fundraising priority is to significantly deepen student financial aid available to those in the greatest need. We are committed to continuing to fill the Faculty of Law with the brightest minds and greatest future leaders, no matter their financial circumstances. As sources of government and other institutional funding continue to decline for us, and indeed for all law schools across Ontario, financial aid is increasingly an urgent necessity.

I am pleased to report our Campaign to deepen financial aid is off to a strong start. A range of leaders in our community have already given generously to the financial aid mission, including: Mark Wiseman and Marcia Moffat ('96), Andrea Burke ('94), Jon Feldman ('99), Arnie Cader ('65), Melissa Kennedy ('87), Norm ('72) and Gay Loveland, Don Crawshaw ('82), Richard Shaw ('71).

I hope this update on the myriad activities of 2017-2018 tells a compelling story of the remarkable place our law school fills in Canada and the world. As an alumnus, faculty member and now dean, I am so grateful to be associated with this wonderful community. As always, I am interested in your feedback so please do not hesitate to contact me. Enjoy the arrival of summer, and until next time!

Edward Iacobucci, LLB 1996

Dean and James M. Tory Professor of Law
Faculty of Law
University of Toronto