April 27, 2020
Dear Allard Law Alumni,
I am writing to connect with all of you in our alumni community to share a brief update on life at the Allard School of Law during these challenging times.
First, I really do hope that you have been able to stay safe and healthy. The pandemic and the efforts to contain it have impacted us all very differently, depending on our circumstances in work and in life. For some, it is a challenge to overcome with minor inconvenience; for others, it has been difficult, stressful, even heartbreaking.
Along with so many other organizations, we remain busy at the law school adapting our activities to the current situation, and planning for an immediate future very different than the pre-pandemic past. Over the past several weeks, with the closure of Allard Hall, this has meant setting up all of our faculty and staff to work remotely, transitioning all of our teaching for the remainder of the term to an online format, moving exams online, and developing policies and procedures to ensure that students are evaluated as fairly as possible under the circumstances—particular those students whose disadvantage means that they are more deeply impacted by the pandemic. We will also be rolling out a fully online summer term. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that our dedicated Student Services team in particular have been working around the clock to help students through this very difficult time. Our Career Services Office has been no less busy, finding ways to support students who have been impacted by the change of their summer employment status. This includes a mini-internship program to make it possible for unemployed law students to share in research and other law related work around the faculty in very small increments to make more options available. We continue to seek ways to support our students financially in other ways as well. Faculty members, along with many of you, have generously helped to replenish the law emergency bursary fund.
We’ve seen many examples of strength, courage and resilience in our community during this time. I’m proud in particular of our clinical instructors and community partners at the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic and the Rise Women’s Legal Centre, who successfully moved their operations to a remote format and continue to provide much-needed legal services in the community while supervising and teaching our students. As this pandemic continues to hit some of the most vulnerable populations hardest, it provides some reassurance to know that we are still able to offer help. And I am pleased, too, to see our research faculty turning to provide important public commentary on the effects of the pandemic in prisons, on immigration and migrant labour, on the opioid crisis, and beyond. The effects of this event will doubtless be felt for some time to come, and what our alumni and faculty have to offer as lawyers and academics will be as sorely needed as ever in making sense of and addressing the many ripple effects.
As many of you will already know, the 75th Anniversary Gala that had been planned for April has been postponed. We look forward to having an in-person celebration when the time is right. It is with greater sadness that we approach our 2020 Convocation unable to celebrate in person. Our Student Services and Communications teams are working on ways to recognize the Class of 2020 and to celebrate their achievements, and I know they will be reaching out to you to help make this a meaningful and uplifting time for our students.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of you for the encouragement so many of you have expressed during this time. We are grateful for the ongoing support you provide for our students and faculty.
Catherine Dauvergne, QC (LLB ’95)
Dean and Professor, Allard School of Law