Edmonton prosecutor Shaina Leonard successfully defends LLM thesis with flying colours

    By Katherine Thompson on June 26, 2014

    (l-r) Professor Joanna Harrington and Ms. Shaina Leonard

    Congratulations to Ms. Shaina Leonard on the successful examination of her LL.M. thesis, entitled “Jus Post Bellum: The Case for a Light Footprint “Plus” Approach to Post-Conflict Peacebuilding,” and which earned a pass with no revisions. Due to the specialized nature of the area of law involved, namely the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law, Ms. Leonard’s examination committee included an external examiner, and recognized expert in the field, Dr. Kristen Boon, Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey (via Skype), as well as Professor Linda Reif as the internal arm’s length examiner, and her thesis supervisor Dr. Joanna Harrington. Hearty thanks are due to all members of the examination committee for stimulating an engaging examination and discussion.

    This will be Ms. Leonard’s second degree from the University of Alberta, as she completed her LL.B. with distinction in 2002 at the Faculty of Law, and then clerked for Justice Neil Wittmann, then of the Alberta Court of Appeal. Following this she worked as a litigation lawyer with Borden Ladner Gervais in Calgary for three years, before joining the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces as a legal officer. She commenced her graduate studies on a part-time basis in Fall 2010, with the focus of her thesis having been inspired by her tour of duty in Afghanistan where she acted as a mentor to the Afghan National Army’s military lawyers, and for which she received a United States Meritorious Service Medal. Ms Leonard is now a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the President of the Edmonton Bar Association.

    Asked for comment, Professor Harrington said that:

    “It has been an absolute delight to supervise Shaina’s work, and I hope that we can attract more lawyers from practice to pursue graduate studies, whether on a full-time or part-time basis, as the research and writing of a master’s thesis allows lawyers to delve deeper into issues that they have come across in practice.”
    “I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to complete my LLM at the University of Alberta,” Shaina Leonard said when asked for comment after the successful examination of her LL.M. thesis. “Completing my thesis under the direction of Professor Harrington, an expert in her field, was particularly rewarding.”

    Ms. Leonard’s thesis examines the application of three legal frameworks in states emerging from conflict with a view to determining which framework has the greatest potential for future success. The three frameworks considered within the thesis are: the law of occupation as applied recently in Iraq, the United Nations-led interim administrations as applied in Kosovo and East Timor, and the light footprint approach that was applied in Afghanistan. It is the third framework, with its focus on the importance of local ownership over the peacebuilding process, that Ms. Leonard argues should be considered for future post-conflict states, but with enhanced attention to matters of security and coordination. She therefore advocates for a light footprint “plus” approach that includes increased international support and mentorship as the clearest route to lasting peace and security.

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    To learn more about the areas of expertise among our faculty members for thesis supervision, click here.