Ultra Vires


Online Feature: SLS Presidential Survey

Ultra Vires sent each of the SLS presidential candidates – Matt Brown and Albert Lin – a short questionnaire to get to know them better. Here are their responses.

Disclaimer: Patrick Hartford has been completely in charge of putting
together the content of this feature. Since Matt Brown is running for SLS
President, we agreed that he would abstain from working on this feature to
avoid any potential conflict-of-interest issues.


1. What are the main planks of your platform?


  • Expanded Services
  • Principled Advocacy
  • Inclusive events

Find out more at msdforsls.wordpress.com


My vision is to build a highly functional service delivery team that will innovate and improve SLS services
for students and prioritize long-term student benefits. My concrete action plan comprises the following:

  1. Help students pursue diverse career aspirations by creating a comprehensive “how to manual”
    and career advisory directory.
  2. Improve our law school community by creating a “good idea” fund to bring student proposals to
  3. Expedite students’ requests for information by establishing an accountable SLS Communication
    Liaison Office.
  4. Increase the transparency and accountability of SLS expenses by implementing bi-annual
    financial reports, each report containing a discussion and analysis of any noteworthy changes.

If you are interested in a more detailed breakdown of each initiative, I welcome you to visit my facebook
event page.

2. What differentiates you from your rival?


I’m not in love with this question. I will say, though, that I have more experience in
leadership positions at U of T and that I will bring an outside perspective to the SLS.



  1. As SLS Caucus Representative on the International Advisory Committee, the Financial Aid
    Committee, and the Mooting and Advocacy Committee over the past 2 years, I developed
    working relationships with faculty members and a nuanced understanding of the policy fabric at
    U of T Law.
  2. As Student Ambassador to the Alumni Office over the past 2 years, I have good rapport with
    our Alumni and administration staff, both of whom are also important facilitators of student
  3. From my prior work experience in the private equity investment sector, I can draw on my
    understanding of robust management practices to help SLS improve its operations.
  4. Lastly, working in the biomedical research sector provided me the opportunity to lead
    intellectually and culturally diverse teams on multi-year projects with large operating budgets.
    Many hard-earned lessons from this experience can help me lead SLS more effectively from day

3. How has law school changed you?


It’s humbled me. It’s hard to maintain much of an ego about your accomplishments
when your friends have achieved so much. However, it has also been empowering to
put myself in a position where the people around me motivate and inspire me with their
intelligence and accomplishments.


Most of the subject matter in my first year of law school education was so foreign to me. Upon
reflection of my pedagogical experience, the adage “the beatings will continue until morale improves”
comes to mind. Along the way, a funny thing happened—my morale did improve. Why? My friends and
mentors gave me the immense support I needed to chart and navigate the treacherous waters of law
school. Without them, I would not have made it this far. The experience has fundamentally impressed
upon me the value of mentorship. Because of this experience, I derive intrinsic reward and joy from
being a mentor to others and lending a helping hand. This is one of the best life lessons I have learned at
this institution.

4. What should be done with the $50,000 surplus?


The current plan is to turn the surplus into an endowment, administered by U of T,
which would generate returns to fund student activities. I endorse this plan. The
proposal is a result of a thorough and principled discussion about how best to spend
this money, which is a legacy from previous generations of law students.

Interest from the endowment, which would accrue in perpetuity, would allow us to fill
gaps in the administration’s funding of student clubs. For example, we would be able
to send 2 teams to the Canadian Client Counseling Competition and have the option of
funding student coaches’ attendance at national and international moots.


Each year, students pay fees to the SLS as part of their tuition. These fees are used to provide students
with services such as club and orientation events. A surplus arises when the SLS collects more in student
fees than it spends on student services. Since 2008, the surplus has increased by $40,000 to its current
amount of $50,000. These accumulated fees were intended to improve student life. I propose to use
this surplus in just this way: use it as capital for the “good idea” fund, which will allow students to
submit proposals on how to use this money to improve student life. Each proposal will be comparatively
evaluated based on its value for the money by an independent advisory board. Priority will be placed on
implementing services, initiatives or institutions that provide LONG-TERM benefits—benefits that will be
felt not only by current students, but also by students for years to come.

5. What was the SLS’s biggest fuck-up this year?


This is a difficult question since the current SLS is, by all accounts, one of the most
effective in recent memory. One issue I wish had been handled better was the U of T
– Osgoode charity basketball game. In previous years, the game was a great school
event, held at the ACC, that involved students as well as faculty. Watching Ben Alarie
crossover coach Roach must have been a sight to behold.

Unfortunately, the event has disappeared from our social calendar. This year, SLS
agreed to market a men’s UT-Osgoode basketball game as a charity game, meaning
the event wasn’t co-ed and women were excluded. The mistake was not intentional, but
feelings were seriously hurt and our community was negatively impacted.

Next year I will endeavor to bring back our traditional charity basketball game in which
everyone can participate.


Having seen how hard Aaron and Justin worked in their respective positions with the utmost diligence,
I think calling any shortcomings of the SLS under their guidance a “fuck-up” is unfair to them. However,
there are definitely large structural issues that can be improved upon. Namely, SLS can do a better job
innovating and improving SLS services that add value to student life. The creation of the career advisory
directories so that 1Ls and 2Ls going through their job search process can connect with upper year
students—whom have worked at the same organization or firm—for advice is immensely practical and
adds value to student life. This can be greatly improved upon by adding a companion set of “how to
manual” and career advisory directory to help students pursue career aspirations in public interest or
international law. This is just one of many ideas that I have worked on with the International Advisory
Committee this year. One of our Faculty members has drafted a grant requesting for a full time student
position this coming summer for this initiative.

6. Favourite movie?


Mean Gir–-ahhh Apocalypse Now


The Pursuit of Happyness. It is based on the true story of Chris Gardner’s struggle with homelessness
and demonstrates the strength of character and conviction that can overcome seemingly monumental
barriers in the pursuit of one’s passion. If you haven’t seen the flick or read Gardner’s memoir I would
encourage you to.

7. What is one weakness you have?


I have not served on SLS. Thankfully I will have a committed and experienced team
behind me (regardless of who is elected) who can help me navigate what will be an
unfamiliar dynamic.

While some may view this as a weakness, I also believe it is an advantage. I have also
had leadership roles at DLS and UV both of which required hard work and, above all,
organization – two crucial attributes of an effective SLS president. SLS and UV serve a
similar role: advocacy with the administration and communication with students.

I also think that, as an informed outsider, I may be able to bring a fresh perspective to
some of the old issues perennially before SLS and faculty council.


There are so many to choose from. One thing that I constantly strive to improve upon is my ability to
communicate my reasoning in a more complete yet concise manner, whether in writing or orally. In part
due to my educational background and work experience, my learning style is visually biased, meaning
I prefer to receive and send information in the forms of graphs, charts and diagrams. As a result of my
learning bias, miscommunication can arise when I make assumptions that others “see” what I “see” and
neglect to explain a couple intermediate steps before arriving at my conclusion.


8. What is your vision for the SLS?


I want an open, relevant, and approachable SLS that builds the social and academic
fabric of our school. I want principled advocacy on winnable issues and a focus on
effective service delivery. I want the SLS to be part of a better student experience for


My vision is to build a highly functional service delivery team that will innovate and improve SLS services
for students and prioritize long-term student benefits.

9. Closing words? (keep it brief)


When I ball, it’s out of control. When I chair a meeting, its not.


Over the past couple of days, I was delighted to see how many of our colleagues have taken the steps to
be informed voters. I would like to end with an open invitation to everyone to come and chat with me
about your ideas of how SLS can do a better job and to provide any comments and feedback. Also feel
free to email me privately. It is precisely this dialogue which allows ideas to transition from being good
to great and the SLS to provide services that our student body wants.

Recent Stories