Osgoode graduate law students’ conference deemed a success

The reviews are in and this year’s Osgoode Hall Law School conference, hosted by York’s Graduate Law Students’ Association at the Osgoode Hall Professional Development Centre, was a hit with the 90 delegates who attended. The conference, held May 6-7, looked at Law’s Future Progress and Change.

Harry Arthurs

Right: Professor Harry Arthurs addresses delegates to the Osgoode Graduate Law Students’ Association conference

Continuing the Osgoode tradition of showcasing and advancing the careers of Canada’s finest young scholars, future academics and teachers, the conference attracted many participants, including leading scholars, high profile lawyers, law and graduate students, law clerks, government officials, and attendees from several countries. With 90 delegates, the conference was at maximum capacity due to the overwhelming response and interest from presenters, speakers and attendees.

Most notably, Osgoode Professor Harry Arthurs gave an inspirational keynote address on the opening day of the conference. One of Canada’s foremost legal thinkers, Arthurs is a graduate of Harvard Law School, York president emeritus, dean emeritus of Osgoode and holder of eight honorary doctorates. In addition to being an officer of the Order of Canada (1988) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (1982), he has also won the Killam Prize in the social sciences and the Bora Laskin Prize for his contributions to labour law and is the author of numerous books and articles. Conference delegates were inspired by Arthurs’ presentation, titled, “The Spider, The Bee, The Snail and The Camel: Legal knowledge, practice, culture, institutions and power in a changing world.”

In his address, Arthurs noted the increasing debate over the role of law as a discipline and the influential role that graduate law students have, as aspiring academics and teachers, in improving the world. The speech was broadcast online live and the text is available for download on the conference Web site. The final version of his paper is expected to be published as part of the Comparative Research in Law and Political Economy series for the Social Science Research Network’s Legal Scholarship Network led by Osgoode Professor Peer Zumbansen.

Conference participants, representing 14 countries and 20 law schools, presented papers on a variety of topics related to the conference theme. The range of subjects covered by the panels included corporate governance, national security, business law, globalization and international trade, labour, immigration, human rights and social responsibility, constitutional law, biotechnology, e-commerce, and taxation law.

Sponsored by one of Canada’s leading law firms, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, as well as York’s Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organised Crime and Corruption and Osgoode’s Office of the Dean, the conference featured 10 panels over two days. One highlight was a discussion by a group of law deans on the future of legal education. The panel consisted of Dean Hannah R. Arterian of Syracuse University, Dean Bruce Feldthusen of the University of Ottawa, Dean Philip Bryden from the University of New Brunswick and Associate Dean Lorne Sossin from the University of Toronto.

The conference produced a variety of perspectives on increasingly critical issues. The GLSA expects to produce an equally provocative and international experience for next year’s GLSA Osgoode Hall Law School Conference with plans for hosting and inviting NYU Law School graduate law students and holding some of the plenary sessions at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto.

This article was submitted to YFile by Daniel Tsai, Chair of Osgoode’s Graduate Law Students’ Association.