Osgoode Hall Law School

Dean Sossin's Blog


Is Art a Fad or the Future of Legal Education?

April 12, 2015

This post was first published on the Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) blog on April 7, 2015 at http://www.acpd-calt.org/?page_id=2357

As this term and academic year draw to a close, the thoughts of several Deans will turn to broader trends and lessons learned. I wanted to share one such development based on my experience at Osgoode Hall Law School. This year more than any other, it is becoming apparent that art in legal education is no fad but. Art no longer seems like an interesting distraction or peripheral gloss in legal education, but is becoming central to our mission and how we can best fulfill it. Read the rest of this entry →

C51 and the Unbearable Lightness of Oversight

March 19, 2015

Bill C-51 has emerged as a showdown between those who are fearful and want more security in an insecure world and those who are fearful and want more freedom from the things the first group might have in mind to make us more secure.

While a version of the Bill will almost certainly pass (the Tories have a majority government with, arguably, a pretty clear mandate for exactly the policy approach they are adopting), its reverberations into the election campaign to come brings additional heat and intensity to the debate. While the opposition parties differ on whether this should happen before or after the aforementioned election, they are united in the desire for more oversight. It is hard to argue against more oversight, but also, as I suggest below, perhaps too easy simply to argue for it.

I suspect few – and perhaps remarkably few – of those who argue for more oversight have a clear sense of what it would involve, its possibilities, and perhaps most importantly, its limits.

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Racialized Licensees, the LSUC and Catalysts for Change

March 4, 2015

I offer the thoughts below in response to the call for input by the “Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group” and specifically to their consultation paper “Developing Strategies for Change.” [and please note this submission was submitted March 1, 2015 and will be cross posted by the Law Society in due course]

I wish to begin by applauding the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) for this initiative and for highlighting the voices of racialized licensees, and more broadly the value of diversity, in our community. Having demonstrated that change is needed, however, the LSUC must now do all it can to deliver on that change, and be seen to have done all it could in that regard!

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Dying with Dignity – Now Comes the Hard Part

February 9, 2015

[this commentary originally published by Canadian Lawyer at http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/5460/Carter-dying-with-dignity-now-comes-the-hard-part.html]

I have not run into anyone yet without strong views to share on the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday in Carter to strike down the assisted suicide prohibition in the Criminal Code. In my circles, those views have been mostly positive but I respect the depth of feeling on this issue and those for whom assisted suicide is antithetical to their beliefs, whether religious or based on policy concerns in the desire to protect the welfare of vulnerable people. Many will be writing on the leadership demonstrated by the Court, or the impact of Carter on Charter jurisprudence, or how this represents yet another setback for the Harper Tories from the McLachlin Court. My interest is more in where we go from here.

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Why I’m Flipping my Wig!

January 19, 2015

I have the pleasure this year to be one of the Flip Your Wig Ambassadors. If you haven’t heard, Flip Your Wig is a campaign now underway to raise awareness and resources about access to justice. At the launch of the campaign held earlier in January at the Law Society of Upper Canada, I mentioned the story of Zahra Abdille, the public health nurse killed with her two children in November 2014 in an instance of suspected domestic violence. Abdille was reported to have sought but been unable to obtain legal assistance – an all too common experience for women caught up in domestic disputes.

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Top Ten Canadian Legal Stories of 2014

December 28, 2014

2014 was a remarkable year in Canadian legal news. These are, in my view, the top 10 stories (in no particular order):

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A Year of Inspiring Student Leadership

December 26, 2014

I am continually inspired by our students – their energy, leadership, ideas and passion. While this has been mentioned from time to time in my blog, it struck me as an oversight not to have devoted a post to this topic. And the timing has never been more right. Just this term, law students at Osgoode have called the Canadian Judicial Council to account for its prosecution of Justice Lori Douglas, undertaken an unprecedented campaign to raise funds for debt relief, led a campaign to oppose the law program at Trinity Western University and engaged in public education around race and police violence. And, in each case, students have influential, difference-makers not just at the Law School and in the University, but within broader communities and on some of the most important issues of our time.

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Visiting Hong Kong at the Crossroads

November 5, 2014

What a remarkable time to have scheduled a visit to Hong Kong. Long before the pepper spray and vast protesting crowds of the “Umbrella Revolution,” a group of Canadian law schools decided to continue a tradition of pan-Canadian alumni events abroad (building on successful events in New York and London last year) by deciding to come together in Hong Kong in early November. The visit proved memorable both from the perspective of connecting with Osgoode graduates and from the perspective of witnessing a pivotal moment in Hong Kong’s history.

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Partnerships and Collaboration – The Future of Experiential Learning

September 19, 2014

We have made much at Osgoode of our embrace of experiential education. Our curriculum change (commencing with the Class of 2015 graduating this June) is the first in Osgoode history and the first in Canadian legal history to have an experiential education requirement. In 2012, Osgoode launched the first Office of Experiential Education to support the new clinics, intensive programs and courses that have accompanied this experiential turn. This is enhanced by our vibrant mooting and lawyering program, and the OPIR, Osgoode’s Public Interest program. What is crucial to this development, but deserves greater profile, is the fact that Osgoode could not reach this ambitious goal on our own. Rather, it is attainable only through new and innovative partnerships and collaborations. A great example is the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot, a joint initiative of Osgoode and the law firm Willms & Shier. Read the rest of this entry →

New Approaches to Financial Accessibility and Law School

September 14, 2014

Commencing with the JD class beginning their studies in 2015, Osgoode will begin offering some students admission to Law School on an income contingent loan basis. Eligible students who self-select for this program will not pay any tuition while they are law students, but will agree to repay the entirety of their tuition commencing when their income reaches a point where they can afford to do so. And, if their income never reaches that point, the loan will be forgiven incrementally over a period of years. This program would provide an entirely new way to access legal education, and when combined with existing bursaries, scholarships and graduation awards, advances the goal that every qualified student should be able to obtain legal education regardless of financial means. Read the rest of this entry →



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