Lorne Sossin, dean of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, announced Monday the establishment of the McMurtry Visiting Clinical Fellowship – the first program of its kind in Canada – to honour Osgoode alumnus R. Roy McMurtry (LLB ’58, LLD ’91), former attorney general and chief justice of Ontario, and current chancellor of York University.
The McMurtry Visiting Clinical Fellowship will bring leading lawyers and related practitioners to Osgoode for a term or part of a term to provide mentorship to students and lawyers engaged in experiential education initiatives. Fellowship holders may also teach and get involved with Osgoode’s mooting and lawyering programs, participate in research projects, deliver public and faculty lectures, and assist with institutional projects in their areas of expertise and interest.
The McMurtry Fellowship, together with the law school’s announcement last week that it would be the first Canadian law school to introduce an experiential education requirement – a “praxicum” – into its Juris Doctor (JD) curriculum and to open an Office of Experiential Education, are key components of a larger, five-year strategic plan – Experience Osgoode. The goal is to advance experiential education, as well as to build partnerships and collaborations. The Office of Experiential Education will help develop and support experiential learning initiatives.
“McMurtry Fellowships will play a vital role in creating bridges between the academic, policy and practice communities and provide Osgoode students, staff and faculty with the opportunity to connect with broader practice networks and expertise,” said Sossin, adding that the Fellowship holders will be chosen in the spring of each year by an ad hoc selection committee of the law school consisting of faculty, student and staff representatives. The Fellowship holders will receive an office, administrative support and a stipend with the expectation that they will spend a semester in residence at Osgoode.
Sossin said it is truly fitting that the new Fellowship should bear McMurtry’s name as he “has long championed building bridges between the academy, Bar and Bench.” He described McMurtry as “a driving force” behind numerous endeavours including the creation of Ontario’s legal aid system, and particularly the expansion of the community legal clinic model in the 1970s, as well as the founding of the Ontario Justice Education Network and the Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism.
“Roy McMurtry’s roots at Osgoode are broad and deep,” Sossin said. “He was given an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1991. He is a featured graduate in Osgoode’s Catalysts initiative and the Honourary Chair of the Osgoode History & Archives Project, which showcases the law school’s illustrious past in dynamic displays throughout our new building.”
Sossin added that the law school is privileged to welcome a number of Visiting Professors every year who contribute enormously to the school’s academic programs, and the McMurtry Fellowship holders will augment that rich tradition.
As an example of the goals of the McMurtry Fellowship program, this September, renowned human rights litigator Joseph Arvay, Q.C. of Arvay Finlay Barristers is visiting Osgoode to provide mentorship to Osgoode’s Clinical Education Program and will deliver the James Lewtas Lecture – Is there a Constitutional Right to Die? Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 1pm at 1001 Ignat Kaneff Building, Osgoode Hall Law School, Keele campus.