Celebrating 115 years of leadership and excellence

On Dec. 7, the Ontario legislature broke from its official business to congratulate York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School on its 115th anniversary. A significant acknowledgment of the role of Osgoode in Canadian legal education and scholarship came when members of each of the legislature’s political parties read statements marking the anniversary. Osgoode’s Associate Dean Janet Walker, Legal & Literary Society president Rich Appiah, and student caucus Chair Antonio Di Domenico were in the public gallery of the legislature to listen to the statements read by the parties. 

Right: Osgoode Hall Law School was originally located at 130 Queen Street West in Toronto

Kathleen Wynne, MPP for Don Valley West, noted in her statement on behalf of the Liberal Party that Osgoode has educated many leaders of the legal profession including Chief Justice of Ontario Roy McMurtry, and Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O’Connor. Wynne observed that a number of former premiers of the province and numerous cabinet ministers, including the current attorney general of Ontario, Michael Bryant, were graduates of Osgoode.

“The Law Society of Upper Canada founded Osgoode Hall Law School in 1889, and today it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the province of Ontario. Until 1957, the only avenue for admission to the bar in Ontario was through study at Osgoode Hall Law School,” said Wynne. “That means virtually every practising lawyer and sitting judge in the province until that time was a graduate of Osgoode. 

osgoode foyer

Left: Osgoode Hall Law School foyer

“When Osgoode Hall Law School became affiliated with York University in 1969, it continued to educate thousands of lawyers and senior members of the judiciary. Today there are about 15,000 graduates of Osgoode Hall Law School practising law in Ontario and elsewhere around the world,” she said. “Osgoode continues to be one of Canada’s leading law schools, committed to excellence in legal education and legal scholarship, and plays an essential role in helping us to achieve a just society.”

Jim Flaherty, MPP for Whitby-Ajax, spoke on behalf of the Conservative Party. He said, “I’m pleased to rise today in recognition of the 115th anniversary of Osgoode Hall Law School, an important institution in the history of Ontario.

“As a graduate of Osgoode, I’m especially honoured to be speaking on this occasion. Osgoode Hall Law School has been home to many of today’s leaders, educating thousands of lawyers and senior members of the judiciary, including former premiers, attorneys general, other members of the executive council and MPPs from all parties in this House,” said Flaherty. “It has been an example for other law schools to follow.

“It is home to the largest graduate program in Canada, home to the largest law library in Canada and home of the only professional development program in Canada. It was the first law school to establish a combined law and business degree; the first law school to develop courses in poverty law; and the first law school to establish a student-staffed community legal services clinic.”

Marilyn Churley, MPP for Toronto-Danforth delivered congratulations to Osgoode on behalf of the New Democratic Party. “Osgoode Hall Law School has achieved excellence in legal education, and has contributed to an increasingly diverse legal profession, reflecting the multicultural and evolving character of Ontario society,” said Churley. “Today, we’d like to celebrate the school’s progressive character and its contributions to this province. Osgoode was the first law school in Canada to establish a combined law and environmental studies degree.

“Osgoode was the first law school in Canada to establish a student-staffed community legal services clinic, the Parkdale Community Legal Services, and Osgoode was the first Canadian law school to develop courses and programs in poverty law.”