Osgoode Hall Law School

Dean Sossin's Blog

Osgoode’s Approach to the “Integrated” Law School LPP

April 4, 2014

In November, 2013, Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) voted to approve Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa as the providers of the new, post-JD pathway to licensing, the “Law Practice Program” (LPP). Importantly, the LPP is a three year pilot project (with a possible extension of a further two years). At the same meeting of Convocation an application from Lakehead University’s new law school to deliver an “integrated practice curriculum” that would fully satisfy the new LPP requirements was unanimously approved. As a result, students graduating from Lakehead’s new three year program (its first graduating class will be in 2016) will not be required to article or take the LPP after graduation, but may move directly into the licensing process and write the licensing examinations. Subsequent to the November decisions, LSUC has indicated that it will entertain applications from other law schools wishing to offer an integrated practice curriculum that fully meets the skills and tasks competencies listed in the original Request for Proposals (RFP) for the LPP. 

In February of 2014, Osgoode’s faculty met to discuss the implications of the LPP for the J.D. program. Arising from that meeting, I have worked with a group of Osgoode faculty and senior administrators who volunteered to take a leadership role in gathering more information and broader perspectives on the issue. We hope this project, which is ongoing, will inform a broader discussion at Osgoode (and, potentially, across law schools and with the profession). We feel it important to signal that it is not the intention of Osgoode Hall Law School to make any application to the LSUC at this time. Osgoode’s final decision will have to wait for answers to the questions we raise below and until our discussion with the whole Osgoode community is complete. The considerations informing the conclusion of the working group are described briefly below. Read the rest of this entry →

In Praise of Osgoode’s Library and the Perils of Profiling

March 20, 2014


Recently, the Obiter Dicta featured an exchange about an alleged incident which occurred last November in the Osgoode library. My goal (and my challenge) is to address concerns about racial profiling while also reinforcing and reaffirming support for our staff and community. The library, in particular, has long been a space viewed by students as supportive and safe – and I recall the palpable sense when I was a student at Osgoode (just a few years ago…) that the library was “our” place. Read the rest of this entry →

Dean for a Day 2014!

March 17, 2014

Every Spring, following a long Osgoode tradition, I hand over the keys to the Deans Office to the student who submitted a compelling essay or video on how the Law School could be improved. Previous winning submissions have focused on Osgoode’s engagement with indigenous communities, improving feedback on exams, and enhancing Osgoode’s mental health supports for students. This year, I was pleased to see the theme of the winning submission from Clifford McCarten involved the opportunities for enhancing the student experience through better digital resources. In particular, Clifford suggested digital or pdf course packs could accompany each course rather than expensive hard copies or a jumble of links and incompatible electronic resources.

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Choosing Law School

February 25, 2014

Welcome Day 2014 was this past Thursday at Osgoode. This is the time when prospective students visit the Law School to check out the building, hear about the curriculum, meet faculty and staff, and generally kick the tires of their legal education to come. We know most of those admitted to Osgoode will have choices to go elsewhere, so this is also a time to highlight differentiation and those areas where Osgoode shines (our commitment to experiential education, our leadership in research, our passion for pedagogy, our pride in community).  When all is said and done, however, the far bigger choice these students are making is choosing to take the plunge on law school in the first place. Read the rest of this entry →


February 3, 2014

It has been quite a “victory lap” for retired Chief Justice of Ontario Warren Winkler. I had occasion to attend several events honouring Chief Justice Winkler since his retirement in early December 2013, and Osgoode Hall Law School has the privilege to now be home to the newly launched Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution (with the former Chief himself joining Osgoode this January as a Distinguished Visiting Professor) at the start of 2014. Having heard the speeches, sipped the wine and tucked into a variety of chicken breasts and lamb racks, I have come away with the following insights about “the Chief”-  and our judicial system more broadly. Read the rest of this entry →

Why the Time is Right for a Part-Time JD Program

January 27, 2014

One of the most challenging issues at Osgoode Hall Law School, as I suspect it is at virtually every law school in Canada, is financial accessibility for our JD program. Even with a significant financial aid program disbursing more than $3 million annually, tuition of approximately $23,000 at Osgoode (while not the most expensive law school in town) is a significant if not insurmountable barrier for many. Perhaps it’s time we consider whether an innovative part-time JD program can be part of overcoming this accessibility barrier. Read the rest of this entry →

The Elusive Search for Accountability

December 30, 2013


I am writing this just back from the University of Haifa, in Israel, where I taught an intensive course this December on “The Search for Accountability in the Public Sphere: Public Law in Comparative Perspective.” The course considers the topic from the vantage of four countries: Canada, Israel, the U.K. and Germany. As usual, I have ended up learning more than I’ve imparted from the course. Read the rest of this entry →

In Praise of the CCLD!

November 16, 2013


The CCLD is an organization that few know about but is having a meaningful and positive impact on legal education in Canada. The Canadian Council of Law Deans is a body comprised of all the Deans of all the Law Schools throughout Canada (currently there are 23). The organization rarely had much business to conduct in the past and served as a kind of roundtable for Deans to share anecdotes, catch up on developments and wring hands about common concerns. All this has now changed. Read the rest of this entry →

Reflections on Michael Mandel

November 3, 2013

On October 27, 2013, Professor Michael Mandel died and a singular voice went silent. Not really, though, since Michael’s ideas and convictions live on both in his many writings, speeches and lectures, and in the many students, scholars, advocates and activists whose work has been enriched by his influence and inspiration. Read the rest of this entry →

The Future of Law School (the Conference!)

September 28, 2013

As I get ready to fly back to Toronto from the lively and provocative “The Future of Law School” Conference, hosted by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law as part of its 100th Anniversary celebrations, I thought I would share some highlights. Panellists and keynote addresses spanned diverse themes, but there are 10 insights which will stay with me (in no particular order): Read the rest of this entry →

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