The Future of Law School Conference shaping up as a fitting finale to University of Alberta Faculty of Law's first 100 years

Katherine Thompson - 14 August 2013

The Future of Law School Conference shaping up as a fitting finale to University of Alberta Faculty of Law's first 100 years

The Faculty of Law's Centenary Year will culminate with the two and a half day Centenary Conference, The Future of Law School, which will take place from Thursday evening 26 September through to the end of day Saturday 28 September 2013. The Conference, featuring lawyers and academic leaders from around the world, is ideally timed to raise and address critical questions regarding the future of legal education. What should the law school curriculum and teaching practices of the future look like? What is the purpose and rationale for university-based legal education? What role can and should the legal profession play in legal education? What is the future of articling? Will skills-based training and experiential learning form a greater part of the law school's future? Our Conference is firmly set on making a lasting contribution to the ongoing debates surrounding such issues.

The Future of Law School will be structured around the following four themes:

  • Foundations: Theories of Contemporary Professional Legal Education

  • Circumstances: Law Schools, Regulators, and the Market for Legal Services

  • Challenges: Reflecting Changes in the Practice of Law

  • Practices: Innovating the Content and Delivery of Legal Education

Speakers include:

Gillian K. Hadfield, the Richard L. and Antoinette Kirtland professor of law and professor of economics at the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law. Professor Hadfield studies the design of legal and dispute resolution systems in advanced and developing market economies; the markets for law, lawyers and dispute resolution; contract law and theory; and economic analysis of law; and regulation of legal markets and legal profession. She is the director of the Southern California Innovation Project and co-director of the Center in Law, Economics, and Organization. She teaches Contracts; Advanced Contracts: Strategic Analysis and Advice; and Legal Design.

Richard Susskind O.B.E. is an author, speaker, and independent adviser to international professional firms and national governments. He is the IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, holds professorships at the University of Oxford, Gresham College, and Strathclyde University, and is a past Chair of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information and of the Society for Computers and Law. He has specialised in legal technology since the early 1980s and is a regular columnist at The Times newspaper (U.K.). He is well known throughout the legal world for his concept of 'The Grid'; which is a model that can be used to foresee the future of the legal profession.

Harry Arthurs, University Professor, former Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School (1972-77) and President of York University (1985-92). Professor Arthurs' publications range widely over the areas of legal education and the legal profession, and his academic contributions have been recognized by his election as an Associate of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. Arthurs has been an arbitrator and mediator in labour disputes, has conducted inquiries and reviews at Canadian and American universities, and has provided advice to governments on a number of issues ranging from higher education policy to the constitution to labour and employment law. He has also served as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, member of the Economic Council of Canada and President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

William D. Henderson, Professor of Law and Val Nolan Faculty Fellow at the Indiana University, Maurer School of Law; the Director, Center on the Global Legal Profession ; research associate with the Law School Survey of Student Engagement; a principal in Lawyer Metrics; and recently named by the National Law Journal as one of America's most influential lawyers. In addition to teaching a variety of business law courses at Maurer School of Law, Professor Henderson teaches a course called The Legal Profession, inspired by the 2007 Carnegie Report on Legal Education, which covers the ethics, competencies, and economics of the legal profession. Henderson's scholarship focuses on empirical analysis of the legal profession and legal education. He is a frequent commentator, author, and lecturer on trends in the legal profession, including patterns of lawyer mobility, the relationship between profitability and associate satisfaction, the economic geography of large law firms, and attrition rates of female and minority attorneys.

Hugh Verrier is the Chairman of White & Case LLP and directs the Firm's strategy and operations around the world. With White & Case for nearly 30 years, Hugh became a partner in 1994. He was elected to the Firm's global management in 2004 and has been Chairman of the Firm since 2007. A New York-qualified lawyer, Hugh spent most of his career with White & Case overseas in Indonesia, Turkey and Russia, where his practice was focused on the development of natural resources. A pioneering international law firm with global reach and influence, White & Case has thousands of lawyers working across the globe representing some of the largest and most respected companies in the world.

Peter Sankoff, professor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law. Over the past three years, Professor Sankoff has transformed his class on the Law of Evidence from a standard lecture format into one that focuses on dynamic problem solving and application of evidentiary principle. His experience is that students who work on evidence problems develop a much better understanding of the laws and challenges in this area than ones who merely examine judicial disagreements about evidentiary process and listen to me lecture. "In 2012, drawing upon the inspiration of The Khan Academy , I created evidence "capsules" - video podcasts of 10-20 minutes in duration that I prepare beforehand and post on-line," Professor Peter Sankoff explained. "These capsules now provide the foundational law and explanation of basic concepts that is no longer delivered through lectures. In addition to being available on demand, they free up class time to focus on deeper learning objectives." Professor Sankoff's conference presentation will explain why he uses capsules, how they work, and the advantages they offer for students and faculty alike.

Conference Co-Chair, Eric Adams, stresses that the participation of students, lawyers, judges, and alumni is critical to the success of the event. "We want students and the legal profession to join this conversation," Professor Adams elaborates. "We need a diversity of perspectives on legal education and training in order to fully engage with an issue of concern not only for those of us who teach in law schools, but for all who have a vested interest in the quality of education lawyers receive." "With the array of international speakers and participants already registered," he concludes, "the Future of Law School is shaping up as a fitting finale to the Faculty's first 100 years."