Two students sit at a table looking at a tablet

Report to Community 2023

Message from the Dean

As we reflect on our accomplishments from the past year, it makes me proud to be dean of UCalgary Law. Our community is stronger than ever after the wild ride that COVID brough to the world. Our students continue to inspire me with their goals to make a positive impact on the legal profession. Our professors are delivering impactful research. Our alumni are true representations of how amazing UCalgary Law is. And our donors are helping us drive innovation in how we provide legal education.  

It has been an honour to lead UCalgary Law for the past 13 years. As my tenure as dean comes to a close in June 2024, I’m proud of all that we have accomplished together. Our law school continues to be a place where we’re not afraid to try new things, to learn from and celebrate our failures, and to be a leader in legal education provincially, nationally, and around the world.  

The Faculty of Law has the Energy for Innovation and Impact, at a university that lives in one of Canada’s most dynamic and enterprising cities. We are facing the future head on and making our mark on the future of legal education. Thank you for your continued support.   

Ian Holloway, PC, KC  
Professor and Dean of Law 

Meet our new faculty members

Professor David Wright

Research project builds cost-benefit analysis in impact assessment

Professor David Wright has received almost $50,000 from the Government of Canada for his project "Building a Janus Perspective of Cost-Benefit Analysis in Impact Assessment." The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Insight Grants support research excellence in the social sciences and humanities for established and emerging scholars.   

There is a pressing need to build a Janus perspective on CBA in this context to provide a sound foundation for IAA implementation. This research project will fill existing knowledge gaps in two important ways. First, it will retrospectively examine how CBA has been used in federal impact assessment decision-making to date by systematically reviewing past use of formal and informal cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in federal IA. No such analysis has been conducted previously in the Canadian context. Second, this research will look forward by examining potential uses and limitations of CBA in Canada's new federal IA regime. It will use provisions in the new IAA as starting points, and canvas legally-tenable alternatives to be used in IAA implementation. More broadly, this research will contribute to implementing the new legal framework in a manner that observed constitutional limits, and brings integrity and transparency to the process for all participants. It also has international relevance as countries update IA laws and practices. 

"I am delighted and honoured to receive this Tri-Council Insight Grant, which will support my next steps researching law and policy dimensions of impact assessment," says Wright. "The present Canadian context of ambitious decarbonization agendas and Indigenous self-determination make this area of research more important than ever. And with the Supreme Court of Canada set to release its landmark ruling on the constitutionality of the federal Impact Assessment Act in the very near future, the timing couldn’t be better for looking deeply into long-standing questions about cost-benefit analysis, decision-making, and the public interest." 

New UCalgary Law course bridges the gap between science and law

A new course in the Faculty of Law aims to encourage knowledge sharing between law students and graduate students in sciences.  

Led by Professor Martin Olszynski, Law, Science and the Regulatory State is meant to ease the tension between law and science when developing policy and legislation.  

“It’s important for both lawyers and scientists to understand the rules of engagement: which level of government is responsible for which environmental issues, or how science is sometimes considered and scrutinized by Canadian courts, and other times not,” explains Olszynski. “My goal is to help bridge the gap and explain what can otherwise get lost in translation between scientists and lawyers.” 

New law course helps future lawyers better understand Indigenous treaties

Aboriginal and Indigenous law are among the fastest-evolving legal fields in Canada, which is why two associate professors from the Faculty of Law have launched a new course to meet this need. 

Modern Treaties and the Law is an intensive two-week course that takes University of Calgary law students to Whitehorse, Yukon, and surrounding communities to focus on the law of modern treaties and Indigenous self-government.  

“The idea is that the students are immersed in the part of Canada where there are the most modern treaties — there are 11 final agreements in the Yukon,” says Professor David Wright, who created the course with fellow professor Dr. Robert Hamilton, PhD. 

“Students meet with First Nations leaders, government leaders, Yukon-based lawyers and judges, and other folks involved in the legal system, and they learn the substance of the law, but also implementation challenges with respect to treaties, all while being situated in the field.” 

The first-ever offering of the course took place May 14 to 28, 2023, during which a cohort of 12 students engaged directly with the treaties, court decisions and legal commentary, as well as with First Nations leaders, Indigenous government officials and organizations, and Yukon government leaders and lawyers. 

Your gifts at work: Law school makes important step to supporting student mental wellness

According to a survey of UCalgary Law students conducted in the fall of 2022, 77 per cent of students have experienced challenges to their mental health since coming to law school, and more students reported dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, sleeplessness, loneliness and negative self-talk.    

"After coming through COVID, students made it clear that their mental health and well-being were a priority for them,” says Joel Tallerico, a third-year student and president of the Society of Law Students. “Students are no longer willing to put their mental health and well-being as a second priority to their studies.”   

The Faculty of Law hopes to change these statistics and is on the path to improving supports and enhancing the mental well-being of law students, thanks to the generous support of Lawson Lundell LLP, one of Western Canada’s leading law firms. The $100,000 gift will support timely and responsive counselling services for students and proactive educational tools to bolster resilience and build the foundation of wellness vital to future success.    

“The reality is that the services and initiatives students need cost money — money that the faculty, student groups, or volunteer organizations just don't have on their own without outside support. I can confidently say that the generous donation by Lawson Lundell will make a meaningful impact in improving student well-being and mental health,” says Tallerico   

“As a people-first law firm, Lawson Lundell takes mental health and wellness seriously, and we take active steps to provide support accordingly,” says Grant Vogeli, KC, a partner at the firm. “We work closely with UCalgary Law on student recruitment, and we are encouraged to see that the University of Calgary is making efforts to ensure their students have the mental health resources they need. 

“As lawyers, we recognize the stress that students experience, and we feel it is important to do our part by supporting UCalgary Law’s student mental health and wellness initiatives,” he adds.   

After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the University of Calgary Faculty of Law’s London Program returned strong this past summer for its second time running.

The program takes students to London to study corporate law abroad for three weeks.

Bryce Tingle, KC, a professor of law and N. Murray Edwards Chair in Business Law, first had the idea for the program during a trip to Oxford over the summer of 2018, when he discovered the venerable university filled with American law students on various summer programs and questioned why Canadian universities didn’t do something similar.

“Canada is not a very big country; most corporations in Canada of any size do a lot of business outside of Canada,” says Tingle. “They raise money in the United States and the United Kingdom; they go public on other exchanges; they acquire businesses elsewhere in the world.

“I think it is very useful to go to one of the world’s legal and financial centres and get the experience of being there, meeting lawyers there, seeing how things are done, and learning the differences between the U.K. and American legal systems when it comes to corporate law and the Canadian system.” 

Professors, alumnus win prize for teaching scholarship

Professors Nickie Nikolaou, LLM'00, and Lisa Silver, LLM'01 (now Court of King’s Bench justice) and Alexander Dingman, JD’22 won the 2023 CALT Prize for Scholarship of Teaching & Learning for their article “Creating the ‘Whole Advocate’ through experiential learning in the law classroom,” which was published in the Canadian Legal Education Annual Review.   

Six years ago, the University of Calgary's Faculty of Law revised its Advocacy course to create a capstone program focused on student-centred experiential learning. The goal is for students to become “Whole Advocates” and “Whole Lawyers” who are ready and able to face the challenges of an evolving legal services market in the 21st century. It is now time to reflect upon and measure the student learning outcomes and objectives of this course. Is student learning occurring as intended, how is it occurring, and what changes might be needed to deepen and facilitate that learning? This article discusses a research project we undertook to answer these questions. It reviews the relevant literature and sets out our main findings. In doing so, the article provides important observations for enriching and enhancing student learning through experiential learning while ensuring alignment with the whole advocate/whole lawyer approach in current legal education. 

The Prize honours exceptional contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by a Canadian law teacher. While SoTL is defined variously, a common understanding is that of investigating questions related to teaching and learning and sharing the answers obtained through peer review, publication, performance or presentation. 

U of C law students (l-r) Mahima Acharya, Meghna Jain, and Riddhi Chattopadhyay with dean Ian Holloway

U of C law students (l-r) Mahima Acharya, Meghna Jain, and Riddhi Chattopadhyay with dean Ian Holloway

New program at University of Calgary lets students from India obtain Canadian and Indian law degrees

A new dual degree program with India’s Jindal Global University is putting the University of Calgary on a global stage, giving students from both India and Canada a chance to expand their horizons and providing a broader perspective on the world.  

“The advantage of the joint program with Jindal Global is that the students will get both the Canadian JD and the Indian LLB,” says dean Ian Holloway, with students getting credit for about one year when they come to the University of Calgary. 

The evolution of money laundering & financial crime: From ‘downright criminal’ to ‘perfectly legal’

From media stories of drug cartels to pop culture hits such as Ozark, money laundering is typically considered a criminal offence. But could there be positive benefits associated with the practice?   

A new course offered at UCalgary's law school and taught by Dr. Sanaa Ahmed, PhD, explores the evolution of money laundering and financial crime over the past century, as well as the laundering behaviours and practices that lie on the spectrum between “downright criminal” and “perfectly legal,” and the political, economic and historical contexts that make them so.    

According to third-year law student Eric Davies, the course far exceeds the common notion of money laundering proceeds from drug trafficking, like the ones we’ve seen in shows like Ozark and Breaking Bad

“This course delves into such topics as the theories around financial crimes, how we regulate or facilitate those crimes and the politics of which financial activity we deem illegal. Everyone is sure to find some interest in one of the topics covered in the course.”   

Sanaa Ahmed

Your gifts at work: Upgrades to the law student lounge

Jennifer Koshan

Professor appointed chair in new UCalgary Research Excellence Chairs program

Professor Jennifer Koshan, LLB'88 is one of 22 faculty members to be appointed as a chair in the prestigious new UCalgary Research Excellence Chairs (UCREC) program, highlighting the university’s commitment to fostering cutting-edge research and innovation across various disciplines.  

Professor Koshan’s research has long focused on human rights, domestic violence, and access to justice. With this new position, she will be expanding her focus from adult survivors to include children who are victims of family violence, with particular attention to children who are members of marginalized groups. Her research will use intersectional, transdisciplinary, and community-based approaches in exploring how the Canadian legal system needs to be transformed to provide a rights-based and trauma-informed approach for children experiencing family violence. Amongst the various strands of her project, Professor Koshan will be partnering with the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in examining and addressing the re-traumatizing impacts of the legal system on children and youth who experience abuse. She will also be continuing her work with colleagues in Nursing and Social Work in developing interprofessional and experiential learning modules on family violence. Her research aims to produce recommendations that lead to concrete changes to law, policy, and educational programming for law students, lawyers, and judges. 

Law professor explores racial bias implications in facial recognition technology

We live in an era marked by rapid technological advancements that promise to make our lives easier and more efficient. Artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and facial recognition have immense potential to positively transform our lives; in fact, they are used daily by millions around the world.   

But these technologies are still in development and many currently operate unchecked and with standardization gaps. It's within those gaps where technology can inflict the most harm. That’s why Faculty of Law assistant professor Dr. Gideon Christian's area of expertise is on how AI and the law intersect.   

“There is this false notion that technology unlike humans is not biased. That’s not accurate,” says Christian, PhD. “Technology has been shown (to) have the capacity to replicate human bias. In some facial recognition technology, there is over 99 per cent accuracy rate in recognizing white male faces. But, unfortunately, when it comes to recognizing faces of colour, especially the faces of Black women, the technology seems to manifest its highest error rate, which is about 35 per cent.”    

Christian’s work was recently awarded a $50,000 Office of the Privacy Commissioner Contributions Program grant for a research project titled Mitigating Race, Gender and Privacy Impacts of AI Facial Recognition Technology to identify the complex issues surrounding private-sector development and deployment of AI-based facial recognition technology in Canada.  Christian was also awarded a Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism from the Ontario Bar Association Foundation. 

Gideon Christian

Court appearances and citations

The Public Interest Law Clinic headed to the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2023 acting as legal counsel for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) in Attorney General of Canada v. Attorney General of Alberta and the extent of federal jurisdiction over GHG emissions and climate considerations in the federal impact assessment process.  

In fall 2022, the clinic was retained by CAPE, a non-profit organization of physicians in Canada who work to secure human health by taking evidence-based action on environmental issues with advocacy, collaboration and education. 

Professor Martin Olszynski also appeared during the proceedings to present oral arguments on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund Canada. 

Professors Sharon Mascher, Shaun Fluker and David Wright appeared during the cproceedings for the intervener the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. 

  • Reference re Impact Assessment Act, 2023 SCC 23: Bowden, Marie-Ann, and Professor Martin Olszynski. “Old Puzzle, New Pieces: Red Chris and Vanadium and the Future of Federal Environmental Assessment” (2010), 89 Can. Bar Rev. 445; Professor Martin Olszynski, “Impact Assessment”, in William A. Tilleman et al., eds., Environmental Law and Policy, 4th ed. Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2020, 453
  • Auer v Auer, 2022 ABCA 375: Professor Martin Olszynski and Mark Mancini, “Reviewing Regulations Post-Vavilov: Ecology Action Centre v Canada (Part II),” ABlawg
  • TransAlta Generation Partnership v Alberta (Minister of Municipal Affairs), 2022 ABCA 381: Professor Martin Olszynski and Mark Mancini, “Reviewing Regulations Post-Vavilov: Ecology Action Centre v Canada (Part II),” ABlawg
  • R v Sharma, 2022 SCC 39: Professor Jennifer Koshan, “Intersections and Roads Untravelled: Sex and Family Status in Fraser v Canada” (2021) 30:2 Const Forum 29; Professor Jennifer Koshan and Professor Emerita Jonnette Watson Hamilton, “Meaningless Mantra: Substantive Equality after Withler” (2011) 16 Rev Const Stud. 31

Your gifts at work: AMANAH Muslim Advocacy and Leadership Scholarship in Law

When Saliha Haq, JD'23, started law school, she was the only hijab-wearing student in her class.  

"While there were a few other Muslim students in my class, I saw a need to increase the diversity of the student body and the number of marginalized groups in the Faculty of Law." 

To achieve her goal, Haq created the AMANAH Muslim Advocacy and Leadership Scholarship in Law, to encourage Muslim applicants and applicants belonging to marginalized groups to apply to law school and to make legal education a little easier for students belonging to these groups. 

Professional attire accessibility, equity and sustainability in spotlight at law school

Steve Jobs was famous for his basic work attire: jeans, sneakers and a black turtleneck. Mark Zukerberg is often seen in a grey t-shirt and jeans. But for many working professionals, basic outfits like these are not an option for day-to-day work wear, and require suits, skirts or dresses, or other more formal attire.  

This type of professional attire, however, comes with a cost. And for many people early in their careers, it’s a cost that can be quite burdensome. For law students, those costs can often start to add up before they step foot in a law firm, when you consider how much care and attention on appearance is required for job interviews, social events or networking opportunities. For students from a lower socioeconomic background, this could add up to a much larger, and usually hidden, disadvantage.   

“We wanted to address the financial barriers associated with professional attire, which also aligns with our club’s belief in sustainability,” says second-year student Emily Zheng, who is the VP communications and academic for the Environmental Law Society in the Faculty of Law. 

To solve these issues of equity and sustainability, the club organized a professional clothing drive in partnership with local law firms.  

“Considering the mental, emotional, and financial stress that many law students face, the message we wanted the firms to support was the idea of paying it forward,” explains second-year student and ELS president Amanda Cha. 

Jo-Anne Henry and UCalgary Law Dean Ian Holloway pose with the new portrait of Violet King Henry.

Jo-Anne Henry and UCalgary Law Dean Ian Holloway pose with the new portrait of Violet King Henry.

Ground-breaking Calgarian earns permanent home at law school

She has become a symbol of resiliency and determination for Black law students across Canada. She was the only woman in her graduating class at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law, the first Black person admitted to the Alberta Bar, and Canada’s first Black female lawyer. Violet King Henry was born and raised in Calgary, and while a student at Crescent Heights High School, declared that she would become a criminal lawyer.   

To honour her courage and her contributions to the community and the legal profession, and to continue to inspire all law students who see it, a portrait of King Henry was unveiled in UCalgary Law's largest classroom on Thursday, March 30.   

For second-year law student Senait Yohannes, who attended the same high school as King Henry, finding a way to honour her legacy has been important. Along with fellow members of UCalgary Law’s Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA), Yohannes began working with Heritage Calgary in 2021 to recognize King Henry’s home in Sunnyside, and a plaque was installed in February 2022 formally recognizing the home as a cultural and historically significant site.   

The BLSA commissioned Edmonton-born Black artist Keon Courtney to create the rendition of King Henry, and the group was very intentional in how they wanted her portrayed: standing in front of a regal purple curtain, wearing her barristers’ gown, and smiling from ear to ear.

First-ever Ramadan Iftar held at law school

When Saliha Haq started law school in 2020, she was the only student in her year who wore a hijab. Today, the third-year student is excited at how the Muslim community within Murray Fraser Hall has grown.   

That community was on full display on March 27 when the University of Calgary Faculty of Law hosted its first-ever Ramadan Iftar, the evening meal to break the fast during the 30 days of the holy month.   

With Mayor Jyoti Gondek on hand to bring greetings from the City, along with members of the Muslim Bar Association and the larger Muslim community, the event likely made a bit of history, as well.   

“As far as I know, this was the first legally themed Iftar in Western Canada, and perhaps the whole country,” says Dean Ian Holloway.   

As attendees watched the sun set, lanterns and candles on each table brought a warm glow to the room, a radiance and enthusiasm that could be felt throughout the evening. The fast was broken with the traditional call to prayer, the Athaan, recited by Amanallah Abbas, representing the Muslim Council of Calgary, and concluded with each guest eating dates and drinking water, as is tradition during Iftar.   

“The commands to act equitably, to be steadfast in upholding justice, and to treat others with compassion are common threads in both Islamic belief and Western legal systems,” says Haq, BSc'19, JD’23. “And these fundamental values are exemplified in our Muslim law students at the faculty.   

From left: Mayor Jyoti Gondek, Law Dean Ian Holloway, Imam AbdulRahman Khattab, and Rob Bassett of the Canadian Bar Association.

From left: Mayor Jyoti Gondek, Law Dean Ian Holloway, Imam AbdulRahman Khattab, and Rob Bassett of the Canadian Bar Association.

Sohail Shakeel

Student awards in law 2022-2023

  • 135 Different Awards 

  • 356 Total Law Students supported 

  • $1,468,030 Total funding disbursed to law students at UCalgary 

Your gifts at work: New entrance scholarship created for law students changing careers

Finding the courage to go back to school after some time away, or pursuing a career change, can be challenging. Financial worries, re-learning how to learn and study, and taking on the unknown can be barriers to pursuing a dream.   

For Harold Lemieux’s family, finding a way to support students returning to the classroom, particularly to pursue a career in law, was important as they figured out how to make good on his final wishes.   

“The idea for the scholarship was inspired by my experience,” explains his daughter, Michelle Lemieux, BSc’97. “I have a degree in engineering and worked in that field for a number of years before returning to school to pursue a Master of Library and Information Studies. The scholarship honours my dad’s background as a lawyer and my personal experience.” 

The Harold W. Lemieux Memorial Scholarship in Law is a renewable entrance scholarship awarded to an outstanding student with at least three years of work experience between their undergraduate degree and law school, with preference given to a student with a BSc in engineering or another degree in a science field.

Drawings of Aaron Renert (top) and Moshe Renert

Aaron Renert, LLB'98, and Dr. Moshe Renert, BSc'85: Arch Award Recipient - Career Achievement Award

There is indeed an invaluable skill in the passing on of knowledge to another. From the early philosophers and elders to the modern-day virtual classroom, society has always placed value in learning. Standardized exams are a measuring stick that, by their very nature, break down a person’s knowledge into a single number or score. 

But what does this truly measure in a student’s learning? What if we took the standard curriculum and not only gave it to students, but provided them with the tools with which to understand it, process it and synthesize it along with the teacher’s and student’s own experiences and thoughts? These kinds of ideals would only begin to scratch the surface of the techniques and innovations of Career Achievement Arch Award recipients, Aaron Renert, BSc'92, MSc'93, LLB'98, BEd'03, and Dr. Moshe (Moses) Renert, BSc'85, PhD. 

Since the inception of the Renert Tutorials at the University of Calgary in 1990, Moshe, Aaron and their staff have brought thousands of students to campus for high school diploma reviews and college admission and graduate school test prep sessions. Years of Renert Tutorials would lead to the opening of the Renert Tutoring Centre, the Bright Minds program and, ultimately, Renert School, an accredited kindergarten to Grade 12 private school, founded by Moshe and Aaron in September 2013.  

“Renert School's unique and innovative educational model provides students and teachers with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge, advance academically without bounds and discover their unique passions, all in the context of a safe and caring school community,” says nominator Dr. Bob Schulz, PhD. “At every stage over the past 30 years, Aaron and Moshe Renert used entrepreneurial thinking and innovative leadership to pivot, improve, enhance, and extend product offerings to extended target markets, to the betterment of the Calgary and Alberta communities.” 

Calgary Awards honours community-building law alumna

The efforts of a tireless community champion — and University of Calgary Law alumna — were recently recognized at the 2023 Calgary Awards. 

Meenu Ahluwalia, BSc’95, LLB’99, received the 2023 Calgary Community Achievement Award for Community Advocate at the annual honours ceremony hosted by The City of Calgary. 

Aside from her work as a lawyer, Ahluwalia is a community volunteer and mentor who embodies UCalgary’s entrepreneurial spirit: taking action and using her dedication to law to be an advocate for underserved communities in Calgary.  

Ahluwalia is passionate about reducing barriers marginalized communities often experience. Her involvement in Calgary organizations such as Momentum, YMCA Calgary and Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) Calgary Society showcases her commitment to community building, which extends to volunteer initiatives in Colombia, solidifying her role as a catalyst for positive change. 

Meenu was also named one of Canada’s most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer.

Meenu Ahluwalia

Alumni appointments

  • Indra L. Maharaj, LLM’19 - Alberta Court of Justice, Calgary criminal division and Calgary regional division  

  • M. Jennifer Shaften, KC, JD’93 - Alberta Court of Justice, Family & Youth Division 

  • Lisa Silver, LLM’01 - Court of King's Bench of Alberta, Calgary  

  • Melanie Gaston, LLB’01 - Court of King's Bench of Alberta, Calgary  

  • D. Blair Nixon, LLB’87 - Associate Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, Calgary 

  • Chidinma Thompson, PhD’14 - Court of King's Bench of Alberta, Calgary 

More alumni awards

2023 WILL Awards

  • Janice Buckingham, LLB'95 - Leadership in the Profession Private Practice
  • Khatera Haidery, JD'09 - Leadership in the Community

Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40

  • Andrea Urquhart, LLB'10

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards

  • Donna Purcell, KC, JD'88 - Business Leader of the Year

Scholarship renewal supports law students for years to come

Established in 2013, the Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP Entrance Scholarship is a renewable entrance scholarship valued at $20,000 per year, one of the largest scholarships of its kind in Canada. 

It is awarded to students with high academic standing in their undergraduate studies, and who demonstrate leadership in their communities. It is renewable for each year of the JD program based on maintained academic success throughout law school.  

"BD&P is thrilled to be supporting the next generation of big dreamers and leaders that will help shape Calgary in the coming years,” says Robyn Bews, chief business development officer for the law firm. 

“We hope our contribution helps make it easier for these bright young minds to pursue their passion for the law — and our city.” 

The Faculty of Law and Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP are pleased to announce the renewal of the scholarship for an additional three years —until 2026 — providing an opportunity for more exceptional students to pursue their legal education without having to worry about costs.    
“I am excited by the continuing partnership with BD&P to identify and support exceptional law students,” says Catherine Valestuk, assistant dean of recruiting and admissions for the law school. 

“BD&P’s commitment to innovation, excellence and community mirrors our own priorities and compliments our shared commitment to the Calgary legal market.”