Call for Submissions - “Law Actually” : Intimacy and Trust - 13th annual McGill Graduate Law Conference

Published: 29 January 2020

This year's conference has been rescheduled and will now be taking place online in September

The Graduate Law Students Association (GLSA) of McGill University’s Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that its annual Graduate Law Conference will now be held online 24-26 September 2020.

We welcome submissions in English and French from current masters and doctoral students, recent graduates and early-career academics specializing in law and related disciplines.

The conference is intended to build community among graduate students from different institutions, to provide participants with a stimulating environment to discuss their work, and an opportunity to learn and develop skills necessary to communicate and animate their research.

Deadline for submissions was 10 March 2020.

Conference Theme: “Law Actually” : Intimacy and Trust

Law invokes seriousness. One tends to see it to be objective, and even impersonal. It “must be public, universal, and reasonable. Emotion, understood as mere inclination and based in a self-interest, individual perspective, or self-reference that cannot apply to all alike, is irrelevant and distracting to the obligation to do one's duty.” (Meyer, The Justice of Mercy, 11). To think like a lawyer is to maintain a safe distance from the issue at hand.

Yet, law permeates our relationships. Law regulates intimate issues in personal relationships (such as those with our parents and our spouses) and also professional relationships. Legal norms tend to operate on the basis that we may or may not trust each other to carry out our respective duties. This element of trust also applies to many relationships that are deemed to be of a “legal” nature, such as contracts, commercial transactions, and international relations.

This conference is an invitation to approach ‘law’ as a more intimate discipline and to engage in legal scholarship as an exercise in intimacy and trust.

When law crosses paths with intimacy and trust, how does it react? How do jurists react when they are confronted with problems of intimacy and trust? To what extent are legal scholars intimate with the law? How does trust appear within legal relations? What is the level of objectivity and reasonableness that we need when law handles relationships based on intimacy and trust? What tensions within law can intimacy and trust help us to explore? These are only some of the questions that highlight how law, intimacy and trust can be connected, and by no means do they exhaust the possible relations between these topics.

We welcome submissions that are inspired by these questions, as well as those that interpret this year’s theme differently. We particularly invite new theoretical, practical and/or interdisciplinary perspectives. In the hope of facilitating a multi-perspectival environment, we also welcome submissions from researchers in disciplines other than law, and encourage forms of expression other than papers (e.g. short films, artwork, etc.).

We also encourage applicants to submit proposals as a pair who will engage with each other’s presentations in the form of a debate. These submissions should offer two different perspectives on the same issue. There will be a special session dedicated to these presentations.

Dean Maxwell and Isle Cohen Doctoral Seminar Series in International Law

The conference will be held in collaboration with the Dean Maxwell and Isle Cohen Doctoral Seminar Series in International Law, which is held in honour of the late Maxwell Cohen and his wife Isle. As Dean of McGill University’s Faculty of Law (from 1964 to 1969), Maxwell Cohen was pivotal in establishing McGill as an institution at the forefront of legal education in Canada. He remains renowned for his international law scholarship.

In 2020, this seminar will take the form of a half-day panel discussion on international law topics inspired by the conference theme. The seminar will be led by up to eight doctoral students: up to four authors of papers, and four discussants. The papers will be circulated to the discussants and the attendees of the seminar in advance. Each discussant will commence the discussion of each paper, to which the author will have an opportunity to respond, before opening up to the rest of the panel for a general discussion.

Please indicate in your submission whether you would like to be considered for this seminar, either as a paper presenter or a discussant.

You may make a submission to be a discussant whether or not you also submit to present a paper during the rest of the conference.

Submission Details

To apply, please send an email to [at] with subject line “2020 GradLawConference – [Your Name]” by 10 March 2020 which includes:
(a) if you wish to present a paper:

  •  the title of the work;
  •  a 300-word (maximum) abstract;
  •  up to 5 keywords;
  •  your name, full institutional affiliation, and contact information.

(b) if you wish to apply only to be a discussant during the Dean Maxwell and Isle Cohen Doctoral Seminar:

  •  your name, full institutional affiliation, and contact information;
  •  the areas and/or questions of research which you would feel comfortable discussing.

Selected participants will be notified by 15 March 2020.

Enquiries and Information

For all enquiries, please contact the organizing committee at: [at]

All relevant information about the conference can be found on the conference website:

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