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Recognizing the struggle: IFLS Graduating Student Award 2015

IFLS is delighted to invite nominations for our graduating student award.   These are due FRIDAY MAY 1 2015 by noon.

There is no application form. Your application or nomination should be sent by email to Student Financial Services (financialservices@osgoode.yorku.ca) and should include the following a cover letter that clearly identifies that you are nominating someone for this award and makes your case to the Student Awards Committee as to why you believe  your colleague is an excellent candidate for the award; and (if possible)  a detailed resume.
Make sure you look at the criteria for this award, especially: Since this Award is intended to recognize Osgoode students who have made important contributions, but have not otherwise been recognized, recipients of other graduation awards such as the Dean’s Gold Key, are not eligible.”  

IFLS Graduating Student VANGUARD award

Presented annually to a graduating student who has shown bravery and intelligence in bringing attention to issues of importance for feminism(s), including but not limited to gender, poverty, sexuality, sexual orientation, violence against women, racism, Indigeneity, and equality. The Award winner will have displayed leadership qualities including the ability and willingness to engage in critical &/or constructive difficult conversations.

Up to two awards will be offered in any given year. Recipients will be profiled on the IFLS website and will receive a small financial award.

Since this Award is intended to recognize Osgoode students who have made important contributions, but have not otherwise been recognized, recipients of other graduation awards such as the Dean’s Gold Key, are not eligible.

Nominations of graduating Osgoode students are welcome from Faculty, students and staff.  Self-nominations are also welcome. The Director of the IFLS and three IFLS members will review the nominations and select recipient(s).

Nominations should not exceed 750 words in describing how the candidate meets the purpose of the award as described above. A list of names of all those supporting the nomination and their relationship to Osgoode (student/class year, staff, faculty, other) should be provided with the nomination.

Click here for a word version of this post.

Nominations are due to LGonsalves@osgoode.yorku.ca

Inaugural IFLS Vanguard Award Winner:  Kisha Munroe (class of 2014)

reblogged from Dean Sossin's Blog | Osgoode’s Approach to the “Integrated” Law School LPP

can’t exaggerate the importance of this issue.

Dean Sossin’s Blog | Osgoode’s Approach to the “Integrated” Law School LPP.


April 4, 2014

In November, 2013, Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) voted to approve Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa as the providers of the new, post-JD pathway to licensing, the “Law Practice Program” (LPP). Importantly, the LPP is a three year pilot project (with a possible extension of a further two years). At the same meeting of Convocation an application from Lakehead University’s new law school to deliver an “integrated practice curriculum” that would fully satisfy the new LPP requirements was unanimously approved. As a result, students graduating from Lakehead’s new three year program (its first graduating class will be in 2016) will not be required to article or take the LPP after graduation, but may move directly into the licensing process and write the licensing examinations. Subsequent to the November decisions, LSUC has indicated that it will entertain applications from other law schools wishing to offer an integrated practice curriculum that fully meets the skills and tasks competencies listed in the original Request for Proposals (RFP) for the LPP. 

In February of 2014, Osgoode’s faculty met to discuss the implications of the LPP for the J.D. program. Arising from that meeting, I have worked with a group of Osgoode faculty and senior administrators who volunteered to take a leadership role in gathering more information and broader perspectives on the issue. We hope this project, which is ongoing, will inform a broader discussion at Osgoode (and, potentially, across law schools and with the profession). We feel it important to signal that it is not the intention of Osgoode Hall Law School to make any application to the LSUC at this time. Osgoode’s final decision will have to wait for answers to the questions we raise below and until our discussion with the whole Osgoode community is complete. The considerations informing the conclusion of the working group are described briefly below.


1. Osgoode’s Ongoing Leadership in Experiential Learning

Osgoode has been—and continues to be—a leader in the continually evolving thinking about what constitutes a quality legal education that will enable graduates to flourish in a varied and dynamic professional environment. We have had an ongoing discussion about the importance of clinical education and experiential learning for decades. We have had two major curriculum reforms in the recent past and multiple strategic planning processes. The resulting vision we have developed of experiential learning and reflective professionalism at Osgoode seems significantly broader than the view of “tasks,” “skills,” and “competencies” reflected in the LSUC’s Pathways Report and the RFP for the LPP. For example, our understanding of the educational value of “competencies” differs from the use that is made of this concept in the requirements for an Accredited Law Degree—particularly in the context of today’s exciting, complex and pluralistic profession. The Lakehead program has been very intentionally constructed with a particular practice vision in mind, one suited to practice in Ontario’s northern communities. Osgoode’s program, by contrast, seeks to prepare students for a multiplicity of professional roles in a wide array of practice contexts.

2. Uncertainty and Ambiguity

The LPP is itself a pilot project, and we are keenly interested in whether and how well the specified regulatory objectives are met by the project, and what other effects the LPP might have on, for example, articling. We would also need to know more about the plan for evaluation of the Lakehead integrated curriculum and how the graduates of that program are received by the profession upon graduation. 

There are operational uncertainties regarding the LPP. For instance, the LSUC has not indicated how work placements are to be secured or what will happen if there are fewer placements than students. In the event of chronic shortages, questions arise about the viability of sustaining the LPP even over the short term. Serious questions also persist as to the impact of LPP placements on the ongoing availability of clinical placements, and vice-versa. Recently, law students were surprised and concerned by the way that the implementation of the LPP has significantly changed the cost of the LSUC licensing process. No doubt there will be more issues and challenges as the roll out of the LPP continues.

The environment is shifting fast and Osgoode will want to fix on a path only after serious deliberation, consultation and reflection. The LSUC has instituted a significant number of changes—possibly the most significant changes in the last half century—in a very short period of time (without, in our view, an adequate evidentiary basis, sufficient reflection, or consultation with the law schools). The possibility of other changes, including the abolition of articling and the changing nature of the job market for our graduates, also highlights the importance of having as full information as possible prior to any decision.

Osgoode is particularly concerned about the lack of information from the LSUC about what kind of reporting and monitoring regime would be required of any law school offering an “integrated practice curriculum.” The potential of increased monitoring, oversight, reporting and regulation by the LSUC raises critical issues of academic independence and integrity.

3. Cost Consequences

For Osgoode, there are potential costs to modifying our program in response to these recent and still unfolding developments. There are costs to the vision of the JD education and the program we have built (including the very direct impact on our current clinical offerings). There are costs in terms of staff, planning and expenses. For students, there are costs in terms of fees and time invested in new programs with uncertain returns, but also the cost of opportunities for broader legal education foregone. Nonetheless, Osgoode must continue with its established approach to the planning of its degree programs, one that emphasizes being responsive to changing contexts and alert to the costs and benefits associated with change.

4. Responsive Planning for a Dynamic Profession

Although we conclude at this time that the case to immediately modify our JD program is not convincing, Osgoode must approach our future plans with attention to the full scope of our context and with a full understanding of the implications for our students, legal education, and the profession. 

One way to understand the task is to deepen the concept of “practice readiness” beyond its use for the short-term task of licensing. The Osgoode JD aims to prepare students for a multiplicity of professional roles in a wide array of practice contexts by fostering analytical, communication, ethical and professional skills that will be valuable throughout careers that will see significant dynamic change.  In addition to the changes in the “Pathways” to licensing, it is clear that major shifts are underway in the profession and the market for legal services.  As such, there is little doubt that the occasion is upon us to think deeply about the future of legal education in light of such change.

To ensure that the Osgoode JD continues to ready its graduates for excellence throughout their careers, some essential tasks for Osgoode to address now include to:

                     Identify the most important social challenges and opportunities relevant to the design of our JD program, such as regulatory changes, shifts in job markets for JD graduates, changes in the structure of law firms including mergers and failures, retrenchment and expansion in US and other foreign law schools, and increased presence of foreign-trained law graduates in local markets;

                     Review and reflect on our curriculum reform efforts to re-articulate the essential values advanced by the Osgoode JD;

                     Develop a clear articulation of what is meant by “experiential learning” at Osgoode and how Osgoode’s approach relates to the LSUC’s regulatory competencies;

                     Continue Osgoode’s leadership in innovative lifelong professional education and reflect on the benefits and costs associated with new developments such as technology-enhanced learning, new approaches to pedagogy and best practices in professional training, and the comparative experience of professional training in other fields and in other jurisdictions; and

                     Connect to other law schools in Ontario and outside the jurisdiction regarding shared visions about the future of legal education and the legal profession.

By reflecting carefully in these ways on the convergence of so many major developments in our legal landscape, we will continue, in collaboration with our students and alumni, to build on Osgoode’s longstanding tradition of leadership as a public institution that offers responsive and reflective legal education.

Osgoode Catalyst Fellowship: enhancing the diversity of the profession. Deadline December 13

Please circulate to likely candidates and appropriate list serves.  Osgoode has had the privilege of hosting two great Fellows in the early years of this Fellowship (Amar Bhatia, Pooja Parmar) and we look forward to many more.


Osgoode Catalyst Fellowship 

[link at http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/faculty/osgoode-catalyst-fellowship-application-process ]

The Osgoode Catalyst Fellowship program will serve as a bridge to a legal academic career for one or more scholars each academic year.

The Osgoode Catalyst Fellowships are designed to bring to Osgoode emerging scholars who have a demonstrated interest in a career in law teaching, and to support and mentor scholars who will enhance the diversity of the profession. Fellows will be given the opportunity to present a faculty seminar with the aim of preparing a major article for publication, to pursue an active affiliation with one of our research centers, and to teach a course at the Law School.

Promising candidates should commit to being in residence at the Law School for a full academic year. Fellowships may also be awarded for a semester. Fellows will receive approximately $50,000 in funding for a full academic year.

Fellows should not be degree candidates at Osgoode Hall Law School or any other school during the term of the fellowship.

Osgoode Hall Law School is committed to equality and diversity. We especially welcome applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, and LGBT candidates. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply, and we encourage candidates to self-identify in their initial applications.

Interested individuals should send an application that includes a curriculum vitae, copies of law and graduate transcripts, a detailed statement of a research project, and three signed confidential letters of academic reference to be received as soon as possible, and in any event no later than, Friday December 13, 2013 to:

Nicole Salama
Secretary of the Faculty Recruitment Committee
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3
e-mail: facultyrecruitment@osgoode.yorku.ca
tel: (416) 650-8283

Please note that electronic applications are strongly preferred, and hard copies will not be returned.

Osgoode Feminist Collective (previously known as: Osgoode women's caucus)

Name change: the Osgoode Women’s Caucus is now the Osgoode Feminist Collective (link is to their Facebook page).  Lest you thought that younger women were avoiding the F word en masse, pending rebranding.  Why do people think this?

OFC (love the new acronym almost as much as the new name? i do) announced their name change last week.  If you know or are an alumna of this long lived and fierce organization, what do you think?  Here are a few snippets from the announcement at last week’s feminist tea, with thanks to the current co chairs.

In our efforts to bring a feminist voice to Osgoode and the wider York Campus, Women’s Caucus attempts to work within an anti-oppressive framework. For the past couple of years, we have been discussing the direction of our group and how this relates to our name.  We thought improvements could be made. We would like our name to be more reflective of the anti-oppressive politics and multiple feminisms that the our members embrace, as well as recognizing that feminism is practiced and welcoming to people of all genders.

We narrowed down our choices and recently asked our members to vote. As a result, we are happy to announce that with an overwhelming majority, we have decided to change our name to “Osgoode Feminist Collective.”

The October tradition of the Feminist Tea has celebrated person’s day. Some of you who know me may know that I’ve long had a problem with Person’s Day.  See here for some past rants (i know – the money changed).  The Osgoode Feminist Collective had a set of slides running in the background at the tea to consider the complicated meanings of Person’s Day.  These remind me of my general preference for nuanced critical thought over ranting….

It’s been over 80 years since women in Canada were declared qualified persons, yet as the daughter of immigrant parents, it feels far less distant. The memory of my mother’s pride on her first day as an eligible voter, after 10 years of contributing to her Canadian community, is very close indeed. This memory is one that I reflect on and reminds me why the battle for equality is not yet over.

Persons Day reminds me that we are all complex beings, with complicated relationships to feminism and history. It reminds me of the importance of being able to talk about and through those complicated relationships in order for us to respectfully commemorate the hard work of the five women in Edwards. But also so that we recognize the many other racialized women who had been organizing around their rights as women and racialized persons then, and who continue to organize and advocate for their communities today.

Edwards is an example of how only 5 determined women were able to make such momentous changes, despite the great resistance they faced. Such examples of strength remain an encouragement for current battles.

My gratitude to the women of Women’s Caucus’ past and Osgoode Feminist Collective’s present and future and all the inspiration, knowledge and support they have given.

Osgoode: Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship (Deadline Monday April 15)

2013 Call for Applications

Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

APPLICATION DEADLINE:         Monday, April 15, 2013


This scholarship honours the life and work of Helena Orton, whose tragic death in 1997 cut short a distinguished career dedicated to using law as a tool to pursue equality for women, most latterly for women in the workplace.  Helena’s many friends, colleagues and family members have established a graduate scholarship in her name to continue her path breaking work for women through her contributions to legal scholarship and practice.



The scholarship is available to a student undertaking either full-time or part-time thesis graduate studies, at Osgoode Hall or in the York University School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, whose graduate work will explore relationships between law and social equality.  Preference will be given to candidates committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women.  Candidates will be evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, and demonstrated commitment to equality issues.


Value Up to $5,000.00


One scholarship may be awarded annually; the amount may vary but will be in the vicinity of $5,000.00.


To Apply


The following items must be included in the application:



a)   A cover letter addressing the applicant’s eligibility and qualifications, with reference to the Terms of Award and Interpretive Note

b)   A copy of the student’s thesis or dissertation proposal (for incoming students, taken from the application *; for in-program students, this should be the thesis/dissertation proposal submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies)

c)   An updated CV (for entering students, the CV on file for the admissions application will suffice*)

d)   Two references (taken from the admissions application*)

e)   For in-stream students, a letter from the supervisor describing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the program.

f) Submit all hardcopy applications to the Graduate Program in Law, 4044 IKB – Osgoode by deadline. Monday, April 15, 2013



The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship

Helena Orton was a LL.B. student at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1980 to 1982.  While completing her undergraduate law degree, Helena was active in local and national women’s organizations working for social and economic justice.  She graduated in 1982 from Osgoode Hall and was called to the Ontario bar in 1984.

Helena’s search for a feminist law practice took her first to Ottawa to Join Aitken, Greenberg, a respected all-woman family law firm.  As a volunteer with the community-based women’s group Justice for Women, Helena was asked to act as counsel in the first equality rights case championed by LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.  Helena successfully challenged the provincial government’s discriminatory spouse-in-the-house rule which was amended following an out of court settlement with then Ontario Attorney-General Ian Scott.

The position of Litigation Director with LEAF brought Helena and her husband Fred Bever back to Toronto in 1987.  During Helena’s six-year tenure at LEAF, the real world of women’s lives was firmly established as the framework for the analysis of legal equality issues.  She was LEAF’s lead counsel in the landmark Moge case at the Supreme Court of Canada, a case which firmly entrenched the principle that spousal support awards in divorce cases must take into account the real economic burdens which divorce imposes upon women in our society.  Helena’s two daughters, Andrea and Gillian, were born during her time at LEAF.

Helena left LEAF to join the Toronto labour law firm of Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish in 1993.  As a labour lawyer, Helena continued to champion women’s rights with a focus on workplace equality issues.  Helena made unique contributions in this area of law through her special ability to weave equality rights analysis into the resolution of collective bargaining and employment problems for trade unions and employees.  As always, Helena brought to this work a relentless determination to make the law examine, analyse and address the issues women actually confront in their working and professional lives.

Helena’s life and work were marked by her commitment to finding ways to make the law understand the lived realities of women’s inequality and thereby find remedies to redress these inequalities.


The Helena Orton Memorial Scholarship was established by Helen’s many colleagues, friends, and family members, to support a graduate scholarship, which will both honour and continue Helena’s path-breaking legal work for women in the area of workplace equality rights.


A copy of work done with the support of this scholarship, whether published or unpublished, will be provided to Helena’s family members.  The support of this scholarship will be acknowledged in any published version of work done in connection with the completion of the graduate degree for which it was awarded.





1)         Eligibility: “full-time or part-time thesis”


The award is limited to students pursuing a “full-time or part-time thesis” degree in either Law or Women’s Studies.


With respect to the reference to a “thesis”, the award is intended to be limited to the research-stream (i.e. thesis-based) LL.M. and M.A., as well as the Ph.D. (formally D.Jur.) in either discipline.


“Part-time” refers to the status a student may have within York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies after the mandatory period of three full-time terms for a Masters and six full-time terms for a Doctorate.


2)            Substantive eligibility threshold and primary evaluation criterion: “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality”


This thematic criterion is meant to play two roles: (i) a substantive eligibility threshold and (ii) an ordinal role in terms of scoring/evaluation weight.  With respect to (i), the applicant’s proposed or continuing thesis/dissertation topic must clearly qualify as “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality” before the application can be considered.  With respect to (ii), this theme is the primary, or overarching, criterion in terms of substantive fit between the award and the applicant’s thesis/dissertation work.


Whereas (i) operates in an either/or way, (ii) is a question of degree.  The greater the extent to which the thesis/dissertation satisfies this thematic criterion, the greater is the scoring/evaluation weight to be assigned to the applicant.


In terms of the meaning of the thematic criterion, (a) “law” includes not only formal law and legal institutions but also legal policy and social policy connections to legal issues; (b) “social equality” is to be interpreted broadly; and (c) applicants are asked to address, in their application, how they see their thesis/dissertation addressing “relationships” between law and social equality.


3)            Secondary evaluation criterion: “preference…committed to studying workplace issues of benefit to women”


As to the ordinality of this criterion, “[p]reference will be given” means that additional weight will be given to applications fulfilling this subject-matter criterion, and candidates are invited to address this criterion if they feel their thesis/dissertation meets this preference.  It is not, however, a threshold requirement for eligibility.


In terms of the meaning of this criterion, “workplace: and, within that focus, “work” is to be interpreted broadly.


4)            Merit criteria: “academic achievement” and “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”


These two merit criteria are to be assessed and given appropriate weight by selection committee members.


As to “academic achievement”, this includes an assessment of the quality of the application itself in the context of the applicant’s stage of academic work.  Also, whereas entering students need only rely on the application on file for their references, in-stream students must, in addition, arrange for their supervisor to provide a letter assessing the extent and quality of the student’s progress in the year or years since their admission to the relevant York graduate program.


As to “demonstrated commitment to equality issues”, this is different from the subject-matter criterion of “explor[ation] [of] relationships between law and social equality.”  Evidence can include:



  •             Relevant work experience
  •             Involvements in voluntary activity
  •             Writing and research
  •             Participation in social equality movements or related political activity
    • In addressing this criterion, applicants are invited to provide any relevant information on how their involvements in any of the above have influenced their choice of thesis/dissertation work and/or impeded their academic progress.



5)         “Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student”


The Orton Award is not simply an entrance award: in-program students are eligible.  The question arises, however, of what the conditions of renewal are for an in-program student who has already received the award.


“Renewable” means “awarded again.”  The fact of being the current holder of the Orton does not give the holder either a right to automatic renewal or any right to a priority consideration for a second award automatic renewal.  Current award-holders must apply again and be considered on equal terms in comparison with the other applicants.


“Renewable for a second year for a doctoral student” means that a student may not be again awarded the Orton for a second or subsequent year of the LL.M. or M.A..


The situation may arise in which an applicant has received the award for the LL.M. or M.A. and then applies again with respect to the PhD.  “[F]or a second year” must be interpreted in the spirit of the award. No one may receive the award more than twice.  Thus, a student who receives the award for the LL.M or M.A. is eligible to receive the award for a second time for a Ph.D. year, but may not receive it for a third time.


An applicant who currently holds or who has held the award previously does not have to meet a higher standard than other applicants.  As with all in-stream applicants, the academic achievement of the current or past holder of the award includes a contextualized assessment of the progress achieved since the first award.