Interview by Lucianna Ciccocioppo

A shortened version of this interview appears in the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Nexus.

Dean Mayo MoranDean Mayo Moran has been reappointed for a second term, beginning July 1, 2011.  Nexus sat down with her to talk about her whirlwind first term and what lies ahead for the Faculty of Law.

LC:  Congratulations on your reappointment! What made you want to serve another term?

MM:  The most obvious reason is that I love the law school.  It's a fantastic place to be, and my whole reason for becoming dean four years ago was that I thought I could make it even better.  I think we've succeeded in doing that in a number of important ways, but I wanted to continue as Dean because there are still projects that we need to finish.  We've worked hard to raise our research profile internationally, so that we can play the leading role in the intellectual world of law that we should, but there is still more to be done.  We are about to launch the Global Professional LLM program (GPLLM).  And, of course, we are making progress on the building project, which is critical to future of the law school.

LC: What do you regard as the biggest achievements of your first term?

MM: I'm very proud of the creation of innovative programs like the Internationally Trained Lawyers' Program (ITLP) and the GPLLM, both because they respond to obvious needs in the community, but also because they will strengthen the resource base of the law school over time.  I'm proud of the extensive outreach that we've done in the professional and alumni communities, and the number of people that have reconnected with their law school as a result of our efforts.  And I'm proud of a whole range of initiatives that we've undertaken internally that have raised the quality of our student body, increased the impact and breadth of our faculty research, and allowed us to participate more actively in public policy projects.

LC: What public policy projects are you working on personally?

MM:  I had two major commitments this year.  I've been involved in the Residential Schools process for the past several years, as Chair of a committee that oversees the assessment of 25,000 claims for compensation for sexual and physical abuse.  I was also invited by the Attorney General to chair a committee to look at whether or not the provincial government should bring in legislation restricting SLAPP lawsuits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).

LC: What are today's students worried about?

MM:  The students are fantastic, and except at exam time, they aren't a terribly anxious group.  Every year, they do a survey on student satisfaction, and for the past few years, the biggest complaint has been about the quality of our buildings and the lack of space for student activities.

LC: How has legal education changed at the University of Toronto during your deanship?

MM: There was a major curriculum last year that made some changes to the first year program.  We added more public and regulatory law through the introduction of Administrative Law, and we also enhanced the legal ethics and professionalism curriculum. 

LC: How do you think about the public role of the law school?

MM:  I think our public role is an intrinsic part of who we are.  So many leaders have graduated from our law school - leaders not just in law but in politics, business and other fields.  Our law school is uniquely placed to think about the intersection of public policy and legal issues and the obligations of leadership. As Dean, I try to create opportunities for our academic work to make a difference in the world.  One thing that we are working on at the moment is an intensive research project addressing access to justice for middle income earners.  In the past few years, we've done similar projects on gender and diversity in the workplace, and on aboriginal economic development.

LC: What are the biggest challenges the law school faces in the next five years?

MM:  The biggest challenge is the building.  We just had an external review, which was incredibly complimentary in all respects except for the physical facility.  So that's our first priority.  But we also need to worry about our budgetary circumstances more generally, since we exist in a world where our competitors are significantly better resourced than we are.  But I'm confident that some of our new programs, like the GPLLM and the ITLP will help us establish a stronger financial base.  And lastly, we need to keep increasing our academic strength.  It's a constant challenge when we work in Canada to get international exposure for our research.

LC:  Do you ever sleep?

MM:  From time to time.  I also try to write and publish at least one piece a year, and to present at a couple of conferences.  And I supervise graduate students, and spend time with my son, and teach a large first-year Torts class.  People always tell me to give up teaching, but I love it too much.  The students are so smart and so much fun!