The McGill Faculty of Law is a remarkably small institution, remarkable in that it achieves an extraordinary level of success for its size: It ranks consistently among the top 20 best law schools in the world; its graduating students are chosen for the lion’s share of the coveted clerkship positions at the Supreme Court of Canada; its professors garner a large number of McGill’s Teaching Excellence Awards.
The distinctive character of the Faculty—bijural, bilingual, bicultural, or maybe simply cosmopolitan—attracts unique, exceptional students from across Quebec, Canada and abroad. ‘The McGill Program,’ as the undergraduate legal education curriculum is now internationally known, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, has become a model for global law schools seeking to adapt to the changing shape of our world without borders.
Armed with their BCL/LLB degree, McGill Law graduates go on to make an impact both at home in Quebec, throughout Canada, and on a global scale, from London and Paris to Singapore and Beijing, New York and San Francisco, and all points in between. They are recruited by the best law firms, government agencies, NGOs and graduate programs in Canada and abroad, forming what many feel to be a distinct category of jurists, whose professional lives in turn shape the world in which we all live. Distinguished alumni have included Canadian Prime Ministers Sir John Abbott and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, John P. Humphrey, the founder of the UN Human Rights Division, Supreme Court and Superior Court Justices, Cabinet Ministers and Privacy Commissioners, industry leaders and media magnates, with many more prominent figures to come.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the loyal and generous support of the Faculty’s alumni. Philanthropy has also enabled the Faculty of Law to establish several important new research chairs, including the H. Heward Stikeman Chair in the Law of Taxation, Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, the Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism, the Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy, the L. Yves Fortier Chair in International Arbitration and International Commercial Law, and the Norton Rose Faculty Scholars in Arbitration and Commercial Law.
During the recently completed Capital Campaign, alumni contributions to the Faculty of Law totaled $37 million, exceeding our original objective of $35 million. Specifically, this support has empowered us to make significant enhancements in four key areas: promoting human rights and community engagement; advancing cutting-edge legal research; enhancing innovative pedagogy and legal training; and fostering global academic outreach.
While this space does not allow for a full accounting of all the many gifts received during the Campaign, we might mention five examples of commitments that will promote human rights and community engagement at the Faculty: the new Alexandra Dodger Scholarship; the O’Brien Fellowships for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism; the James Hugessen Fund for Disability and the Law; the Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg Fund for Community Engagement; the Wiseman Human Rights Internship and the Echenberg Family Gift for Young Leaders and Global Conferences on Human Rights.
For their part, the McCarthy Tetreault Fund for Innovative Legal Education, along with generous gifts from Peter MacKell, Robinson Sheppard Shapiro, Susan Wells-Tunnelland Stephen Halperin, will help promote innovative pedagogy and legal training at the Faculty, while our international outreach programs will be supported by distinctive Norton Rose, Lederman, Schull-Yang and Arseneault gifts, and our cutting-edge legal research has been given a much-appreciated boost by the Gary Naschen Memorial Fund, the Fasken Martineau Excellence Fund, the Jean Gabriel Castel Fund in Private International Law, and the Aisenstadt Gift, to name just a few examples of the generous support of our alumni during this Campaign.
As Dean, I am immensely proud of the Faculty—its students, its professors, its institutes and its legacy. But I’m even more positive about its future, invigorated by the steadfast support of its loyal alumni, who continue to ensure the future excellence of their Faculty of Law.
Dean and Wainwright Professor of Civil Law