Alumni receive Law Society of Alberta Viscount Bennett Scholarship to support graduate studies

Two members of the Faculty of Law community are starting the next chapter of their academic journeys with a serious financial boost

Priscilla Popp and Carmen Rojas - 08 August 2022

Brandyn Rodgerson, ’17 JD, and Timothy Nessim, ‘14 BA (Hons), are both recipients of the Law Society of Alberta’s (LSA) Viscount Bennett Scholarship, made possible by a trust established by the late Right Honourable Viscount Bennett. According to the LSA’s website, “this prestigious accolade is awarded to individuals with an exceptional academic record and a clear dedication to contribute to their community through the practice of law.”

Brandyn J. Rodgerson 

In addition to receiving the LSA’s Viscount Bennett Scholarship, Rodgerson is also the 2022 recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s Viscount Bennett Fellowship. 

The funding will be used to support his LLM studies when he begins a one-year course-based program at Harvard later this year.

“My hope is to continue to learn about topics I’m passionate about, particularly the intersection between human rights and health care,” he says. 

Rodgerson previously completed clerkships with the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Now an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York, he appreciates the meaningful work he’s able to take part in. 

“Joining the litigation team at S&C has been wonderful. The matters I work on are interesting and complex, and the city is amazing. Most of all, though, I’m lucky to work on some incredibly meaningful pro bono matters such as assisting on name changes for trans clients and representing federal criminal defendants,” he says, also adding that working on one pro bono file in particular has confirmed his desire to continue his legal education.  

“My main pro bono file has been a joint lawsuit with the ACLU, challenging Arkansas’s H.B. 1570, which would ban doctors from providing, and minors from receiving, gender-affirming medical care. To be able to assist on something so consequential to so many young people has been an amazing experience.”

Rodgerson’s desire to merge human rights and health care is unsurprising when reflecting back on his experience at the Faculty of Law. 

As a student, he was a member of the faculty’s Equality and Respect Committee, completed an internship at the Alberta Human Rights Commission, volunteered with Student Legal Services and served as vice-president of OUTlaw Alberta.

With a strong determination to keep challenging himself academically and personally, Rodgerson’s latest achievement signals a continuously promising future – one in which there truly is no limit. 

Timothy Nessim

The focus of Timothy Nessim’s graduate studies has been shaped by an interest in tackling issues that are important to working people. 

“We spend so much of our lives in the workplace and the things that happen in our working lives have a profound effect on our well-being,” says Nessim. 

Nessim says his first job in a unionized environment changed how he thought about work. Completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the U of A prompted him to return to school, enrolling in the BCL/LLB program at McGill University to study labour law. 

Nessim started his career in private practice and applied to the Faculty of Law’s LLM program in order to grow his knowledge of bankruptcy, insolvency and pension law. 

“Those areas are crucially important to working people,” he says. “When your employer becomes insolvent, you may be suddenly out of a job, you may have wages and severance unpaid, and the pension you worked for your whole career may be in jeopardy.”

Partway through his master’s degree, Nessim was excited to have the opportunity to transfer into the PhD program where he is able to continue his research in greater depth. 

Nessim, whose project is supervised by Professor Roderick Wood, is specifically focused on the issue of employee wage protection in Canada. His research explores why it took nearly 40 years for Canadian bankruptcy law to be reformed and why Parliament finally enacted the Wage Earner Protection Program as its solution. 

Outside of academia, Nessim remains directly involved in the rewarding role of helping people solve their workplace problems. Since the start of the pandemic, he has been employed by the United Nurses of Alberta, the union for more than 30,000 nurses and allied healthcare workers across the province. 

“Representing healthcare workers during a public health crisis, I’m working with people who have had so much demanded of them in the past two and a half years,” he says. “It means a lot to be part of those people’s support systems.”