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Come by Coffee House at the Faculty of Law on any given Thursday afternoon and you'll find just about anything — except coffee. The weekly social tradition hasn't served a drop in nearly 20 years, but has served up plenty of beer, wine, soft drinks and merriment.
There was coffee once upon a time, when law students would gather in the evenings in the common room of Old Chancellor Day Hall to socialize over a cup of joe. The event became decidedly more popular (and more raucous) in 1987 when Professor David Lametti — then president of the Law Students Association (LSA) — and his friends moved the venue, added beer and made Coffee House a regular Thursday event.
"It was a way of getting people together," says Lametti, who still makes regular appearances at Coffee House today. "We wanted to get the profs out and to really create a forum for socializing."
Today, the hebdomadal hedonism takes place in the atrium of the law school where students, profs and alumni get together to take a break from the frenetic pace of the legal world. Coffee House is usually hosted and bartended by different student clubs — from the McGill Law Journal to the Black Students' Association — who use the event as a fundraiser for their activities.
In recent years, the LSA has introduced a number of new elements to the weekly shindig. Among them is the occasional sponsored Coffee Houses where leading law firms join in the festivities — and pick up the drinks tab. The LSA also collects an entrance fee from the firms, which it uses to fund a variety of projects, from mooting teams to student bursaries to social justice internships.
"It's a cool way for students, professors and alumni to meet, young and old. Coffee House has really come to reflect the broad scope of what legal education means at McGill," says LSA President Andres Drew.