Two more graduates land coveted clerkships at Supreme Court of Canada

Joanne Cave and Leah Strand make it six recent clerks from UAlberta Law

Helen Metella - 14 August 2020

With the most recent selections, six UAlberta Law graduates have been chosen to clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada in the past five years.

In 2021-2022, Joanne Cave, ‘20 JD, will clerk for the Rt. Hon. Richard Wagner, PC, the Chief Justice of Canada, and Leah Strand, ‘19 JD, will clerk for the Hon. Russell Brown, a former Faculty member.

Joanne Cave

“My first year of law school was pretty tough,” says Joanne Cave, a former Rhodes Scholar. “I was used to being a good student, but I couldn’t apply myself. I was focused on other things.”

Just prior to starting law school, Cave lost her mother to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In the last stage of her mother’s life, her father was diagnosed with the disease, too. So, in addition to her studies, Cave spent the equivalent of several days each week at his home, making meals, completing chores, liaising with doctors and a homecare nurse, and fielding calls when her father wandered away from home.

Following first year, while Cave was a summer student for MLT Aikins, her father disappeared for almost 36 hours. It’s believed he walked to downtown Edmonton from his suburban home. He was found on a median of the Yellowhead Highway, dehydrated and dishevelled.

“It was extremely stressful,” says Cave, who subsequently moved her father into extended living before starting second year.

Despite such formidable duties, Cave belonged to the Women’s Law Forum all three years at UAlberta Law and volunteered for all of the projects delivered by Student Legal Services — civil/family law, criminal law, legal education and reform, and the SAGE Wills Clinic through Pro Bono Students Canada. For her dedication to those programs and to other access-to-justice issues, she was awarded the Faculty of Law’s 2020 Cecilia Johnstone Equality Award.

During her upper-years, Cave became engrossed by studies in constitutional, Aboriginal and environmental law, which supported the interests she’d developed while earning a double major in women’s studies and sociology at the University of Toronto, and two, one-year master’s programs in public policy while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.

During summer 2020, Cave is clerking at the Court of Appeal of Alberta in Edmonton. She’ll finish her articles at MLT Aikins and begin her clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada in September 2021.

Leah Strand

Leah Strand was instrumental in bringing success and renown to UAlberta Law long before her clerkship to the Supreme Court of Canada was announced.

In 2019, she was a member of the Gale Cup Moot team that not only won the most prestigious moot competition in Canada but went on to win the Commonwealth Moot, a competition of 10 law schools from the world’s Commonwealth countries, held in Livingstone, Zambia.

At the Gale Cup, Strand was also named Top Oralist, and at the Commonwealth she won Best Mooter of the final round. She made the Dean’s List all three years of law school and at graduation was awarded the George Bligh O’Connor Silver Medal in Law and was class valedictorian.

The opportunity to clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada plays directly to her strengths.

“I’m passionate about persuasive advocacy, and to persuade judges you need to think like a judge,” she says. “I think this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how the law develops, first-hand, and to improve my writing skills.”

During law school, Strand was a member of the Alberta Law Review’s editorial board, a member of the Women’s Law Forum, a volunteer with Student Legal Services, Pro Bono Students Canada and the Edmonton Community Legal Centre, and played on the women’s law hockey team, Swift Justice.

Prior to entering UAlberta Law, Strand earned a bachelor of arts in English and communications from the University of Lethbridge, after transferring from Red Deer College.

After completing a clerkship with the Court of Appeal of Alberta, she moved to Calgary to finish articling with McCarthy Tetrault. She begins her clerkship at the Supreme Court in August 2021.