New Intersession To Focus On Intensive Courses, Experiential Learning

Maud Rozee (1L)

At the February 10 Faculty Council meeting, Associate Dean Kerry Rittich presented the Standing Curriculum Committee’s initial discussions about introducing an “intersession” to the Faculty’s academic calendar. This is one of Dean Iacobucci’s priorities, which he raised at the first Faculty Council meeting this year. Other law schools, including Western and Harvard, have similar short academic terms in January.

The intersession would be two to three weeks in length, most likely in January. It would allow students to participate in new educational opportunities which are difficult to provide during the regular course schedule, including workshops, field research, or brief internships. It would also allow the law school to offer a wider range of intensive courses, and make the scheduling of them easier.

The committee has considered a number of administrative issues about the proposed intersession. Upper-year participation would likely be mandatory, although many different modes of participation will be offered. The first-year schedule is likely to continue as is, at least for the first few years of the intersession. For upper-year students, the intersession would likely substitute for one course in the winter semester, with the remaining courses having increased weekly class time. Extending the semester by one week (thereby compressing the exam period), and holding more Friday classes were also floated as possible ways to make up for time lost by the new intersession. The committee is aiming to launch this change in the 2017-2018 academic year. Associate Dean Rittich said that the committee would consult widely before committing to a plan.

Associate Dean Rittich also commented on the recent changes to the first-year curriculum. The primary changes are the switch to semesters, the introduction of the Legal Methods course in orientation week, and expansion of the Legal Research and Writing course. According to the Standing Curriculum Committee, the changes have mostly been favourably received by first-year students, faculty members, the administration, and librarians.

Jordana Laporte, Interim Director of the Career Development Office (CDO), provided a brief update on the CDO’s activities so far this year. She reported that 8.5% of the Class of 2016 is still looking for articling positions, which is consistent with prior years. The CDO expects that 95-97% of the class will ultimately secure articling positions before the end of the year, or the same range as recent years. As for second-year students, approximately 65% of the Class of 2017 has found a summer job. Laporte also noted that 17 students are headed to New York for the summer, and that 13 out of 24 U of T Ontario Court of Appeal clerkship applicants were offered interviews.

Associate Dean Rittich also presented the planned sessional dates for 2016-2017 to Faculty Council for approval. The schedule again includes a fair number of “deemed” Fridays—i.e. instead of being a day off, certain Fridays are treated as weekdays for class scheduling. As usual, the deemed Fridays accommodate public holidays such as Labour Day, on-campus interviews (OCIs), and certain Jewish holidays.