The Past, Present and Future of the Legal Academy: A Truly Special Edition

Having people speak to their passions is often an easy endeavor. Having dozens of Canada’s brightest graduate students speak on their most pressing and fascinating legal research seems similarly easy, but is far from it. Getting these graduate students to fly across the country and across the world to speak at the annual graduate student conference is a tall order, but nonetheless is one that Allard Hall has organized for almost two decades. Publishing a Special Edition of the UBC Law Review with the selected articles flowing from the conference is even more remarkable. The 2015 Conference also marked the 30th anniversary of the protection of equality rights under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. It was a big year for the Conference and for Canadian law, and a reminder of how far we have come to be where we are. It was also a year that reminded us that we, and the law, are never still, and must always look to the future.

As proceeds of the 2015 Conference, a Special Edition of the UBC Law Review was commissioned, covering some of the most fascinating presentations from that year’s event. It links to the “Past, Present, Future” theme of the Conference in its selection of articles. From 55 presentations at the Conference, the Special Edition consists of a curated, five peer reviewed article issue that expands and discusses upon graduate student responses to the conference theme. From Saptarishi Bandopadhyay’s article on the 1720 Marseille Plague, to Malcolm Lavoie’s thought provoking article asking “Why Restrain Alienation of Indigenous Lands?”, the Special Edition considers how we got to where we are and where the lived law will go next. The Special Edition also features articles by Basil S. Alexander, Millie Nickason, and Iryna Ponomarenko. Millie and Iryna are both proud products of the Allard Hall graduate program.

“The Special Edition considers thorny public issues and creates a space for resolving them. The focus of the Conference, and this Special Edition, was how to resolve complexity, not only in the legal community, but in the world at large. It’s trite to say that we live in a complex world; but it’s immensely valuable to consider what that complexity means, and how, as legal scholars, we can deal with complexity and work out the role of the law in amongst it all” says Olivia Adamski, Special Edition Publication Chair.

In the foreword to the Special Edition, Allard Hall alumnus Obiora Chinedu Okafor (and founding partner in the very first Conference) speaks to the core theme of the 2015 Conference: “reflect(ion) on where we have come from, where we are now, and where we are going in terms of how well law has helped or failed to help in making sense of the complexity of modern life”. Conference Chair Magdalena Wojda described the Special Edition as “a really exciting development. The conference organized by Obiora Okafor and his colleague Jaye Ellis, now Associate Professor at McGill University Faculty of Law,  was the first graduate legal conference of its kind in Canada, and really spurred on other law graduate students across the country to share their research with the world. We hope that publishing this Special Edition now will be a galvanizing moment to really connect graduate legal work to the world where we live”.

“This collection of articles from the Conference has greater purpose than simply publishing proceeds from the conference. Alone, publishing these articles is a great achievement for the conference, the authors, and our grad program. But, this Special Edition was imagined to do more. It was imagined to inspire graduate students across disciplines to organize and publish their work to deal with the problems facing Canada and the world” explains Ms. Wojda. “Much like the leading role the very first conference played in the 1990s, we want graduate students across the country to be inspired to bring the remarkable work from their own conferences out into the world, through writing, publishing, and connecting with the communities whose problems we all work to solve.”

Ms. Adamski points out that graduate students sit at a vital intersection between the legal academy, lawyers, and the community at large. Most participants at the Conference are parts of each community, and are great candidates to resolve the unique problems of each.

The 2017 Conference (May 8-9) responds with the theme of “The Role of Law in the 21st Century”, and is ideally placed to further the role that legal graduate students can play across Canada, and around the world.

Further Reading for You

Law in the 21st Century

The Graduate Law Students’ Society at UBC is pleased to announce that the 21st UBC Interdisciplinary Legal Studies Graduate Conference will be held on May 8-9, 2017 at the Peter A. Allard School of Law.

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Professor Obiora Chinedu Okafor

Professor Obiora Chinedu Okafor joined Osgoode Hall Law School after holding faculty positions at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Nigeria, and at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

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Magdalena Wojda, Ph.D. Student

Magda’s research was inspired to some extent by her reflections on how her own legal education has shaped her career path, professional identity and practices. After law school, she articled and practiced labour and employment law for five years in Vancouver before deciding to leave practice in pursuit of an academic career. Her choice to chart a new career path took much deliberation about what impact she wanted to make through her work.

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Lachlan Caunt, Ph.D. Candidate

Lachlin’s doctoral dissertation uses multi-level qualitative and quantitative analysis to attempt to determine if, after an insurer pays out a damage award, they make the wrongdoer ‘pay’ for their negligence in some fashion. This would include tactics such as the insurer refusing to pay for future claims arising from similar negligence, increasing the amount that the insurer charges for coverage, or requiring training to avoid that particular kind of negligence.

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