Borden Ladner Gervais Renews Five-Year Commitment to Fellowship Program

From the Summer 2009 issue of Nexus.

Beginning in 2009, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) has renewed its commitment to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law to fund two research fellowships, each worth $12,000, annually for the next five years. Fellowship recipients are chosen by the law schools based upon their academic achievements, and are supervised by prominent faculty members.

The program, established in 2004, arose out of BLG's commitment to strengthen university-based research law schools. It has so far awarded 100 fellowships, valued at $1 million, to 14 law faculties, one of the largest donations to Canadian law school research.

In 2008, fellowships at U of T were awarded to Jamie Baxter and Tim Barrett. Baxter researched "Property Rights and First Nations in Canada: An International Context" under the direction of Professor Michael Trebilcock. Barrett worked with Professor Ian Lee on a project entitled "Freedom of Expression and the Regulation of Corporate Political Speech."

The Borden Ladner Gervais Fellowship allowed Jamie Baxter to research a proposal for the creation of a land titling system for First Nations communities on reserve land currently held in trust by the federal government. "The challenges First Nations face regarding their land tenure systems and economic development are humbling," he remarked.

"Changes to the legal status of reserve land under Anglo-Canadian law would change the way First Nations' lands and resources are regulated, and likely alter how they are used. One aspect of the title system proposal is that non-community members may be able to acquire a legal interest in reserve lands. We explore some of the economic and social implications of this change in our study," explains Baxter of his project.

"U of T has a strong Aboriginal law community, and on a personal level, it was a tremendous experience working with such an outstanding mentor as Professor Trebilcock and such a distinguished First Nation leader as Chief Commissioner Manny Jules."

"The BLG Fellowship gave me the freedom and the resources to engage with a complex set of issues in a meaningful way. When combined with the opportunity to work with a researcher of Professor Trebilcock's calibre, the result was something truly special for me, and I feel very grateful to Borden Ladner Gervais and to all those involved," says Baxter.

At the age of 26, Tim Barrett calls himself "a straight up and down policy wonk" with a passion for the kind of difficult, dense issues you can really sink your teeth into.

He says he's grateful for the BLG Fellowship for allowing him to provide a comprehensive overview of national campaign fi nance regimes in the U.S. and Canada, with the aim of developing a framework for evaluating the limitations placed on political activities of business corporations.

"I really wanted the opportunity to work with someone great, an expert in the field of public policy like Professor Ian Lee. He is incredibly smart and interesting with a legal career I'd like to emulate, "says Barrett.