Faculty Council on March 8, 2017 delivered the usual delicious sandwiches and some intriguing reports about PBSC, mooting, diversity surveys, and the collection of professor citation metrics.
A report from PBSC’s national coordinator summarized the many opportunities the program provides for law students. 123 U of T Law students participated in thirty-six PBSC projects this year. The national organization is putting together a national board; Dean Ed Iacobucci will be its Chair and Assistant Dean Alexis Archbold will represent U of T.
PBSC is also working on developing a pro bono guide to firms, which will outline pro bono policies and opportunities for students and give each firm an objective ranking on a “national report card.”
Clinical & Experiential/Mooting and Advocacy Committee Report
Professor Hamish Stewart, Chair of the Clinical & Experiential/Mooting and Advocacy Committee, presented four recommendations to the Dean:
- The committee should be divided into two: one focused on mooting, the other on clinical and experiential education. According to Prof. Stewart, the committee focused much more on mooting, and did not have enough time to cover clinical and experiential education in depth. The Dean expressed concern that there are already too many committees.
- The description of the Commonwealth Moot in the law school’s curriculum should state that the school will support our Gale mooters “in the event that they are selected” to compete at the Commonwealth Moot, i.e. that the Faculty will support the team even if they do not win first place at the Gale.
The Dean responded by saying that this issue has budgetary implications and involves two policies: that only the winners of the Gale are supported to go to the Commonwealth Moot, and that the Faculty does not allow mooters to self-fund. The Dean said that the “right question is not ‘should we do more things’—the answer would always be ‘yes’—but ‘what do we give up when we do this thing?’” The Dean stressed the budgetary consequences of supporting a Gale team to go to the Commonwealth Moot in every case. He stated that if the Gale team won and went to the Commonwealth Moot every year, the school would have to reconsider its policy of supporting this.
- There should be discretion to accept invitations to moots when a shorter timeframe dictates that the usual procedure can’t be followed, and written policy should reflect that.
- The policy on students’ self-funding to go to moots should be written down. Professor Stewart also emphasized the difference between situations where students are invited to moots as representatives of their schools, and situations where students are invited to moots as individuals. Professor Stewart volunteered to draft the self-funding policy. The Dean said that not all policies need to be written down, citing the CDO’s unwritten policy on not posting unpaid internships on the online job board. [Editor’s Note: The CDO does post unpaid internships, but adds a note about potential funding sources.]
Gender, Accessibility & Diversity Committee
The Gender, Accessibility & Diversity Committee will be administering a survey to measure students’ experience of the climate at the law school.
The committee’s report is also accompanied by an appendix: a vision statement written by Professor Anver Emon. The statement takes a more systemic view of concerns about equity and diversity, and focusses on the experiences of faculty and staff as well as students. The statement is not endorsed by all members of the committee, but has “generated many questions” for them.
Library & Technology Committee
The Library & Technology Committee mainly discussed efforts to more effectively track citation metrics to see how often faculty members’ work is being cited. Head Librarian Gian Medves discussed the Committee’s efforts to determine why these metrics are important, querying whether they will be used to back up the intellectual reputation of the Faculty, or for promotions. Medves raised concerns that these metrics could generate long-term pressures on scholars to change the areas they write on. The Committee wants to spend more time thinking about what data to gather, and why, before it begins.