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Dean Erika Chamberlain LLB'01 Building on our momentum

As I sat down to write my first alumni message as Dean of Western Law, I found myself reflecting on the past at the same time as I looked with excitement to the future. My somewhat nostalgic mood was likely a product of both my appointment as Dean and my turning 40 earlier this spring. I had the good fortune this year to reconnect with my small group classmate, Michael Rubinoff LLB’01, during Founders’ Day celebrations in New York City, and to watch his smash Broadway hit, Come From Away. It was such a pleasure to recall our time at Western Law (including our mutual terror in learning that Professor Rande “Hostile” Kostal would teach our small group), and to marvel at the very different and unconventional directions our careers had taken.

In addition to Michael’s extraordinary career, this issueprofiles several oustanding alumni, who have excelled in the fields of legal technology, professional sports, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. In April, Western Law bid a fond farewell to Dean W. Iain Scott. I was privileged to have worked closely with Iain during my five years as Associate Dean, and was consistently inspired by his desire to improve the educational experience for Western Law students. He was responsible for substantial renovations at the law school, including the creation of a new student lounge, a learning commons, a new Chambers café, a smart classroom, and a modern, centralized office that houses all of our legal clinics. With your generous support, Iain also left us in a strong financial position, allowing us to continue developing innovative programs and supporting our students. Iain will be missed at Western Law and, I am sure, by our alumni.

As the incoming Dean, I hope to build on the momentum of Iain’s term, solidifying our position as Canada’s leading business law school and maintaining our unrivalled student experience.

This spring also marked the retirement of three of our longest-serving faculty colleagues: Professors Ben Hovius, Robert Solomon, and Bruce Welling. They have taught literally generations of law students and made important scholarly contributions in their respective fields. I’m personally grateful for their mentorship, wisdom, good humour, and service to the faculty, and wish them all the best in their retirement.

At the same time, I’m delighted to be welcoming two new faculty members, Professors Roxana Banu and Alfonso Nocilla, and I’m excited at the prospect of hiring several more faculty members over the coming years. It’s a rare privilege for a Dean to have the opportunity to shape the future of the Faculty in this way. I was also pleased to appoint two new academic leaders, Professor Chris Sherrin as Associate Dean (Academic) and Professor Michael Coyle as Assistant Dean (Graduate Studies).

To further our goal of providing engaging and relevant legal education, we rolled out a series of “capstone” courses this year, which are meant to help third-year students consolidate and apply their knowledge and skills, and bridge the gap between law school and practice. We’ve also grown our experiential programs and international opportunities, including an international negotiation course delivered in partnership with Ghent University in Belgium.

Like all Canadian law schools, we are working to implement the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In February, we were honoured to host a symposium on economic justice for Indigenous Peoples, and we offered a range of events as part of Indigenous Awareness Week at Western. This culminated in a four-day Indigenous Law Camp, facilitated by Professor John Borrows of UVic and hosted by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. We are looking to enhance our students’ knowledge and intercultural competency as our profession and our nation enter this new phase of reconciliation.

In all of this, I’m grateful to our alumni for the many ways that you generously support Western Law. I’m eager to meet you, to learn your views for Western Law’s future, and to continue strengthening our vibrant alumni community.

Ericka Chamberlain, LLB'01

This article appeared in the Western Law 2017 Alumni Magazine.
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