Osgoode unwraps a shiny new building and website

The operative word was “new” as Osgoode Hall Law School welcomed law students yesterday to a new academic year in its new building, and also unveiled the law school’s new website.

“The first day of law school is always exciting, but this one is particularly special because our community is together again under one roof,” Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin said in a message to new and returning Osgoode students. “I love our new home and I am sure you will too.”

 Osgoode revealed its new main atrium yesterday to incoming students. Gowlings Hall forms the east-west spine of the newly renovated building.Left: Osgoode revealed its new main atrium yesterday to incoming students. Gowlings Hall forms the east-west spine of the newly renovated building.

Orientation Week activities for Osgoode’s incoming Class of 2014 kicked off Monday morning with a welcome breakfast and a pep rally on the school’s front lawn for about 300 new students. Orientation activities at the law school will continue all week and include a welcome assembly and a special guest lecture delivered by Ontario Supreme Court Judge Harry Laforme (LLB ’77).

The first day of classes was capped by a Class of 2014 photo shoot outside Osgoode Hall at Queen Street and University Avenue in downtown Toronto. York University Chancellor Roy McMurtry (LLB ’58, LLD ’91) was there to welcome the incoming class and a large number of Osgoode alumni were on hand to give tours of the heritage building that was Osgoode Hall Law School’s original home until 1968 when it became affiliated with York.

There is still some work remaining to be done in the new Osgoode building, but the classrooms are up and running and the Junior Common Room, a light-filled space with floor-to-ceiling windows looking west over Stong Pond, is open. The cafeteria, which will go by the name of the Osgoode Bistro, and the Osgoode Hall Law Library are expected to open later this week.

Meanwhile, large, new video screens in Gowlings Hall, the atrium that forms the east-west spine of the new building, are showing colourful “before” and “after” shots of the Osgoode building, which was under construction for the past two years.

Sossin, who thanked people for their patience and cooperation as construction workers complete the finishing touches to the building, also unveiled the law school’s new website on Monday.

“Every department in the law school had a hand in the design of the new website, which I encourage you to visit often,” Sossin told the students. He noted that the new website has “attractive student-focused pages, more dynamic content (videos, blogs, tweets etc.) and enhanced search capabilities for such things as faculty publications and e-resources.”

The website’s newsroom page, in particular, will carry good news stories about the Osgoode community and will feature an interactive poll. The first poll question asks: Do you like our new building?

The design of the new website was informed by the Distinctly Osgoode Research Project in which the law school asked a number of Osgoode students, faculty and alumni in the fall of 2010 to describe what is distinctive about Osgoode that sets it apart fromother law schools and is unique about the Osgoode experience.

“Our goal in conducting this qualitative research was to bring together the voices of our community, particularly our students’ voices, and use them to craft a narrative by and for Osgoode,” Sossin said.

The research results, which helped to inform the design of the new website, will provide input into the development of the law school’s communications messages as it moves ahead with its next five-year strategic plan and the initiatives built around those priorities.