From the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Nexus

Prof. Arnold WeinribScholar, teacher, mentor and well-loved coach, Arnold "Arnie" Weinrib, LLB 1965, is celebrating a remarkable 50 years at the Faculty of Law. In recognition of this milestone achievement, we have launched the Arnold Weinrib 50th Anniversary Bursary Fund and alumnus David Spiro, LLB 1987, is taking the lead for this student financial aid initiative.

"In life, we come across certain teachers who influence us along the way," says Spiro. "Only a few stand out as having made a truly profound contribution to our journey. Prof. Weinrib is one of those few."

Adds Spiro: "Arnie has always reflected the highest ideals of the profession, and the idea that one can be committed to the rule of law while, at the same time, pursuing social justice with passion—all with a gentle but mischievous sense of humour."

We asked for your letters, and read about his famous first year property class (the one that began with a box), his policy-driven "Baby Tax" course and, finally, how to break a full-court press.

Happy 50th anniversary Arnie!

Thank you for introducing me to the mysteries of property law in my first year as a student and your first year on the Faculty, for being a terrific colleague when I joined the Faculty a few years later, for your outstanding contribution to the administration of the law school as chair of admissions, associate dean and acting dean, for being the heart and soul of the best the law school has to offer and for your warm friendship for the past 50 years.

Bob Sharpe, LLB 1970


Thank you for spending so much time on adverse possession in first year property law. My first trial as a lawyer was an adverse possession case (before U of T law alumnus, Justice Gans), and I was ready! Congratulations on your 50th anniversary on faculty.

Nancy Stitt, LLB 1993


"Planning follows the money." Though from New Zealand, I took Professor Weinrib’s Ontario Planning paper towards my master’s degree. I learned from Arnie to stay in the real world, against which I test esoteric submissions in commercial disputes.

John Fogarty, LLM 1975


U of T's Faculty of Law features many an excellent teacher, now and in the past.  During my years there, Arnie Weinrib was, simply, top flight. By what measure?  His teaching on property law was just so engaging that your hand shot up to respond to a provocative question before your inner voice even had a chance to clamp your enthusiasm.  Professor Weinrib just made things intellectually fun.  Pretty soon, it was hard not to read the cases for his class first, just to have more time to mull them over.  My only regret is that I never took another class with him. 

All the best wishes for a wonderful tribute to an outstanding teacher.

Gail Sinclair, LLB 1982


You would think a teacher of this calibre would know the art of encouragement.  But alas, when I swished a hookshot from the foul line (what would now be a three-point shot), Coach Arnie tersely welcomed me back to the bench with the words: "Nice shot...don't ever try that again."

Frank de Walle, LLB 1980


No details, no stories. But if Arnie hadn’t taught me property, I would not have got into property theory. Which has sort of dominated my intellectual life ever since. Big, big thank you.

James Ernest Penner, LLB 1988


Thank you for teaching me tax law in my second year.  Your broad perspective and engaging style left an indelible impression on my world-view and made me realize how important and interconnected are the policy considerations and black-letter, legal aspects of taxation. You transformed what could otherwise have been a deadly dull subject into one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking and enlightening courses I ever took at the law school.

Neville Austin, LLB 1988


Allow me to recall just one out of the numerous moments in which you brought me happiness and/or amusement.  After a few weeks of hearing you refer to us only by our surnames (with, I think, a preceding "Ms." for the women among us "baby tax" students), one day right after class you addressed me as "Mark"—there in front of everyone. I felt I'd finally found my proper place at the Faculty of Law.

Arnie, I shall always regret that financial exigencies prevented me from working for you during the summer after second year.  Please get in touch if you ever make it to Tokyo!

Fondly, Mark Halpern, JD 1986


Thank you for your enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity. You taught me property in first year and engaged the entire class with your humour and quirky perspective on legal issues. You challenged me to move from rote learning to thinking more creatively and rigorously. Also, thank you for your kindness in providing me with a reference that helped me obtain an articling position, which was my first step in what proved to be a satisfying career.

All the best,

Judith Killoran, LLB 1986


"This course is about money." And so began Arnie's course on expropriation. However, it was about much more. Even though Arnie insisted that ours was a school of law, not justice, you wouldn't know that from the way he taught, discussed and argued. It was one of very few courses in law in which I could pose philosophical questions and have them understood. Thanks, Arnie.

Bill Harvey, LLB 1977


Back in the good old days (1976) before Orientation weeks and staff counsellors, all we had was Professor Weinrib and a few hardy souls like him to help us navigate the stresses of first year at law school. That’s when I discovered the real meaning of the word ‘mensch.’

Joseph Groia, LLB 1979


Professor Arnie Weinrib's talent as an educator is well-known.  What may not be so obvious is Arnie's passion for and knowledge of basketball.

Arnie was our coach during my law school tenure from 1970–1973.  We played in the very competitive Division 1 Interfaculty League. Under Arnie's stewardship, we won the championship for two of these three seasons. In the midst of one of our championship playoff series, a two out of three affair, we had barely scraped out a victory in Game 1 from a talented St. Mike's team. We were blown out in Game 2, largely because of our inability to break St. Mike's stifling full-court press which was very effective in the small confines of the Hart House gym. Understandably, the team's prospects of winning Game 3 and the championship were not looking good.

On the afternoon before the evening game, the team assembled in one of the lecture rooms. Coach Weinrib outlined a strategy to break the press.  We in-bounded the ball to a forward (not the traditional guard) who, after drawing in the pressing St. Mike's players, passed to a guard waiting behind the press at centre court. We now had a three on two which we used to our considerable advantage and defeated a stunned St. Mike's team and its raucous fans. I played ball for 30 years and had many coaches during that period.  However, the best coaching I ever received was Coach Arnie's breakdown of that smothering St. Mike's press.

Happy Anniversary Coach

Allan Sternberg, LLB 1973


Many thanks for your generous and expert feedback in the review of my thesis under Professor Janisch. I always felt very fortunate to benefit from your extensive knowledge. You brought energy, curiosity and open-mindedness to any situation. And you still do! I enjoy seeing you from time to time as I live close to U of T.  You are an outstanding faculty member.  50 years calls for celebration. 

Best regards and wishes going forward,

Maud Gagné, LLM 1997


I appreciate the time and effort that Arnie gave to the law school basketball team. I was happy to have him as my coach for three years from 1981-84. Sorry that we could not beat Scarborough College in the final four.

Bruce Arnott, LLB 1984


I owe two debts of gratitude to “Arnie” – one personal and one professional.  Late in my last year in graduate school in Minnesota, I was persuaded by a friend to apply to the Faculty of Law.  I was right up against the deadline, if not a bit past it.  Nevertheless, Arnie invited me to an interview, despite my non-Canadian background and an academic concentration in a field that could be considered furthest from skills needed as a law student: abstract mathematics.  His openness changed my life and I have been a Toronto resident ever since. 

On the professional side, his seminar in land use—which, by name, must sound like the most tedious law possible (I’m sure we all have our favorites for that award!)—may have been the most deeply philosophical course I took during my three years.  Arnie focused on the elusive dividing line between the legal and the political: what are the proper limits on political decision-making and when is it appropriate for political considerations to override private rights? In my work, I have benefitted from that discussion often.

Philip Siller, LLB 1975


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