Queen’s University law students gained an insider’s perspective on law reform October 29 when Executive Director Patricia Hughes visited the Kingston, Ontario campus on behalf of the LCO. Hughes addressed more than 100 students over a two-day guest lectureship that included presentations on the work of the Law Commission of Ontario to students in public law and to combined mental health law and gender law classes.
Hughes shared insights into the LCO’s six-year history — its mandate, processes and projects. She discussed policy-making with the public law class and offered Queen’s gender law and mental health law students an in-depth look at the LCO’s framework for law, policy and practices affecting persons with disabilities, scheduled for release on December 10.
“I wanted our students to gain a strong sense of the significance of law reform and an understanding of a key institution in this province,” says constitutional law professor Beverley Baines, whose class on gender law benefited from Hughes’s leadership in both law reform and feminist theory. “Those who think of themselves as litigators should also think of themselves as activists who can use their law experience to effect change.”
Baines cited the work of Queen’s law graduate Pamela Cross, who helped the LCO develop a series of Ontario-wide law school curriculum modules on violence against women. Launched by Hughes during her Queen’s visit, the modules serve as a roadmap to help professors set the context for violence against women within every law course and explore key issues in courses such as ethics, property law, family law and criminal law.
“I want to see more students use their law training to get people talking about important issues,” says Baines. “It’s great to get info like this out in the public realm and to law schools and students.”
The LCO’s long-term challenge, she reflects, is to also capture the attention of policymakers and politicians.