Osgoode Hall Law School launches FILM: A new visual advocacy initiative

Osgoode Hall Law School photograph of the building interior
Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law School
Interior view of the Kaneff Building, home of Osgoode Hall Law School

Osgoode Hall Law School of York University has established the Fund for Innovation in Law and Media (FILM) to assist its students, visual and digital technology experts, and members of the legal profession and judiciary in developing and delivering new visual advocacy approaches in the justice system. The announcement was made Oct. 22.

The endowed fund, which was established with a $100,000 gift from Kathryn Podrebarac of Podrebarac Barristers Professional Corporation, will create and sustain Osgoode experiential education programs focused on the use of visual advocacy to address social justice issues, educate the public about the law and legal process, and enhance the practice of dispute resolution.

Initial projects under FILM will include the Gladue Documentary Project (integrating short documentary videos as a supplemental aspect of Gladue Reports in the sentencing process for Indigenous offenders in the criminal justice system). Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson, (who was named one of 10 to Watch by Playback Magazine in 2012), is receiving a fellowship from FILM/Osgoode to develop the Gladue Documentary Project.

FILM will also enable the development of the Justice Video Information Project, which features supervised, student-produced videos on legal issues for public audiences, to be developed in partnership with other non-governmental organizations and justice sector providers.

Lorne Sossin
Lorne Sossin

“So many aspects of our world are driven by digital and visual media. The possibilities for visual advocacy to enhance the justice system and enrich the quality of advocacy are tremendous,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin. “A key aspect of this initiative will be exposing our students to the possibilities of visual advocacy as part of experiential legal education. Our goal is to focus on areas where the fairness, accessibility and effectiveness of justice can be improved through visual media, and our hope is that the FILM initiative will open students’ minds to new ways of thinking about the justice system.”

Sossin added that FILM will bring together interdisciplinary expertise from filmmakers and editors to lawyers and jurists in the exploration of the intersection between law and visual media. Lisa Jackson will be joining two other filmmakers – Kami Chisholm and Nadine Valcin – who as Artists in Residence for the 2015-16 academic year are engaged in working with Osgoode students on projects that bring together artistic creativity with the exploration of justice and the law.

Sossin noted that Osgoode’s well-rounded, comprehensive curriculum is focused on law in action. Osgoode was the first law school in Canada to introduce an experiential education requirement into the JD curriculum and is the first to launch a visual advocacy initiative like FILM.

“FILM will allow students to immerse themselves in the theory and practice of visual advocacy and engage with the justice system in a reflective and meaningful way. FILM’s initiatives will also benefit the public, by presenting information about the law and legal rights visually, in a format that is easier to understand, retain and act upon,” he said.