What a year!

A look back at an eventful 2016-2017 year as we salute our graduating class of 2017.

Ben Freeland - 13 April 2017

Speakers and prizes and moots … the list could go on. Whether doing us proud on the national mooting scene, hamming it up on stage at the annual Law Show, or doing great work in support of peers-all the while meeting all the challenges that come with the law school experience - our students simply shone this year.

Meanwhile, our amazing faculty and distinguished alumni could not have been busier or more accomplished. Several faculty members won major research and teaching awards, while others published new books. In addition, UAlberta Law faculty and alumni were featured prominently in the news as newly appointed justices and thought leaders. All the while, scarcely a week seemed to pass without some high-profile speaker dropping by, including an Olympic champion, an award-winning journalist, and an influential global policymaker.

In case you blinked and missed anything along the way, here's the year that was.

The Gift of Knowledge

The year got off to a great start in September, with Miller Thomson LLP generously endowing $50,000 over five years to establish and support The Hon. Justice Russell Brown Lecture Series. The series will bring at least one high-profile speaker each year for five years to the Law Centre for a public lecture on contemporary legal and public policy issues of interest to Canadians. It is intended to supplement classroom learning for Faculty of Law students and engage alumni, the academic community, and members of the public.

Welcoming the Class of 2019

The Class of 2019, whose members include accountants and animal biologists; civil and computer engineers; scholars of French, gender studies, and Greek and Latin; kinesiologists; philosophers; and physicists, were welcomed by Dean Paton, an Aboriginal Elder, distinguished members of the Edmonton bar and bench, and the president of the Law Students' Association. The Hon. Mr. Justice Russell Brown, a faculty member from 2004 to 2013-both as a professor and as Associate Dean during his final two years, was in town to deliver the keynote address at Orientation on September 6 and a public lecture on September 7. The event also featured the KAIROS Blanket Exercise as an opportunity to impart first-year students with a deeper knowledge of the history of Aboriginal-Canadian relations.

Recognizing Faculty Excellence

Three Faculty of Law professors were honoured on Wednesday, September 21 at the University of Alberta's annual "Celebrate! Teaching, Learning and Research" ceremony: Professor Barbara Billingsley for her Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; Professor Joanna Harrington for her Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair in Policy Studies; and Professor Peter Sankoff for his Brightspace Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning. During the ceremony, award recipients and guests were treated to two musical performances, including one by 3L student and accomplished Inuk throat singer Jenna Joyce Broomfield.

A Timely Speaker

On September 21 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Merv Leitch Memorial Lecture Series by welcoming distinguished guest Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. Ambassador to Canada and current Chair of the Public Policy and Regulation Department at Dentons U.S. LLP. Members of the Leitch family, students, faculty, staff, and members of the legal community gathered for a timely presentation entitled "U.S.-Canada Relations During the 2016 Presidential Election". The memorial lecture series honouring Mr. Mervin Leitch, BA, LLB, QC was established in 1990 by the late Peter Lougheed and a group of Mr. Leitch's friends and colleagues.

Amazing Alums

UAlberta Law alumni were featured prominently among the university's 2016 Alumni Awards winners. On the day of the awards on September 22, Dean Paton welcomed alumni award winners Justice Virgil Moshansky, Bob Aloneissi, QC, Bud Steen, and Koren Lightning-Earle to the Law Centre for a special luncheon held in their honour before the formal award ceremony.

From the Bar to the Bench - Part 1

On October 20, 2016, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced seven judicial appointments to courts in Alberta and three appointments to courts in British Columbia as part of the announcement of 24 judicial appointments across Canada. These included five Alberta appointees (and one in BC) with ties to the University of Alberta Faculty of Law: the Honourable Michelle G. Crighton (LLB '84), Kevin P. Feehan, Q.C. (LLB '78), James T. Eamon, Q.C., George "Jody" Fraser (LLB '96), Bonnie Bokenfohr (LLB with Distinction '01), Joyce M. DeWitt-Van Oosten, Q.C. (LLB '91). Justice Fraser also made headlines as Alberta's first quadriplegic Queen's Bench Justice.

Making The Profession Better

On October 28 and 29 UAlberta Law welcomed lawyers and legal scholars from across the country, as well as provincial and territorial regulators and representatives from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, for the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics (CALE)-for the purpose of discussing ethics and regulation of the legal profession in Canada. The conference, organized by Professor John Law, an early CALE member and the Thomas W Lawlor QC Professor of Law and Ethics at the Faculty, examined these issues from the perspective of teaching, research, and regulation. Financial support for the conference and annual meeting was generously provided by the Law Society of Alberta, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and Field LLP.

Busting Through The Glass

On January 18 to 20, the Women's Law Forum presented "Glass Ceilings: A Women's Law Forum Speaker Series". The group hosted three distinguished panelists, including Alberta's current Minister of Status of Women, the Hon. Stephanie McLean; an Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice, the Hon. Avril Inglis; and Ayla Akgungor, a partner with Field Law, who presented on issues concerning women in law and women's access to justice.

Alice in Wonderlaw

On February 3 and 4 UAlberta Law presented its 21st annual Law Show, which this year followed the adventures of Alice in Wonderlaw! The production was based on Lewi Carroll's 1865 Alice's Adventure in Wonderland and also drawing on his 1872 follow-up Through the Looking-Glass. As with previous years, more than 100 UAlberta Law students volunteered and hundreds attended the two-night theatrical extravaganza, proceeds from which went to the Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS), with whom UAlberta Law has partnered with since 2015.

Cops & Lawyers

On March 3 UAlberta Law welcomed two leading experts on law and policing, Senior Counsel in the City of Chicago Department of Law Jonathan Clark Green, and Brian Beresh, Q.C., senior and founding partner at Liberty Law, for a lecture entitled "Police shootings in the City of Chicago: Litigation issues and challenges". With discussions ranging from the complexities of handling forensic evidence to the impact of social media on investigating police shootings, the event provided a valuable window into a domain of law in which fact is often hard to distinguish from the sensationalized picture presented on TV news and primetime police dramas.

An Uplifting Visit from a Mental Health Champion

On March 8, 2017, multiple Olympic medalist and national spokesperson for Bell's Let's Talk mental health campaign Clara Hughes shared her raw but ultimately life-affirming story about overcoming depression and breaking the stigma around it at an evening event at the Timms Centre entitled Open Heart, Open Mind, presented by Dentons and co-hosted by UAlberta Law, the Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society (Assist), and CPA Assist. Ms. Hughes also made herself available to meet with UAlberta Law students for an afternoon talk that same day.

Moot Points

UAlberta Law was proud to host two prestigious moot competitions in the winter term: the MacIntyre Moot (February 9-11) and the Canadian Qualifying Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (March 2-4). The MacIntyre Moot was a triumph for the faculty, with UAlberta team of Sunny Mann and Calvin Patterson advancing to the Sopinka Cup with a third-place showing. Our students also distinguished themselves in other moots nationwide, with a UAlberta team placing fourth overall and received second place for their factum at the Davies Canadian Corporate Securities Moot in Toronto. Another great year of mooting overall!

Great Professional Development Opportunities

In March 2017 seven UAlberta Law students secured clerkships. Emma Banfield, Dylan Gibbs, and Rachel Weary, were appointed to clerk at the Court of Appeal of Alberta, while Coleman Brinker, Vanessa Fiorillo, Tanis Avery, and Rayleen Nicolajsen were selected for clerkships at the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. All students will remain in Edmonton, with the exception of Gibbs and Avery, who will reside in Calgary.

Constitutional Q&A with a Canadian Journalism Legend

On March 14 the Centre for Constitutional Studies welcomed acclaimed journalist and political pundit Chantal Hébert for a discussion on Canada's still-unsettled constitutional conundrum as part of the centre's 2017 lecture series, entitled "Looking Back, Moving Forward: How the Constitution Shapes Canada". Hébert discussed everything from the Trump victory and Brexit (and its likelihood of affecting Canadian politics) to the government's reluctance to open Canada's constitutional Pandora's Box to the probability of Kevin O'Leary becoming prime minister.

A Winning Team

As the Edmonton Oilers were drawing ever nearer to their first playoff berth in over a decade, UAlberta Law welcomed three special guests from Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) on March 15. The noon-hour event entitled "Insights into Hockey, Business and the Law", presented by the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and the Dean's Office, drew a capacity audience and featured discussions ranging from the experiences with players' agents and the impact of the new Las Vegas team to the rise of "hockey analytics" and, of course, Garth Brooks' nine sold-out shows at Rogers Arena.

An A for Diversity

On March 23 UAlberta Law Dean Paul Paton received a 'Leaders in Diversity Award' from the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers - Western Chapter (FACL Western) at the organization's second annual Diversity in the City gala in Calgary.

From the Bar to the Bench - Part 2

On March 24, 2017, Canada's Attorney General announced four further judicial appointments to the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta, including UAlberta Law alumnus William T. deWit, Q.C. (LLB '94) and longtime sessional instructor Ritu Khullar, Q.C. (BA '85).