Constance MacIntosh, associate professor

A day in the life

Constance MacIntosh, associate professor

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In contract law, students have to draw upon their judgement and common sense, as well as the law they’ve learned, to come up with plausible analyses.

Mentoring and aboriginal moots

“First-year students are such a delight to work with,” Constance MacIntosh says, referring to her first-year Contract Law course. “They’re working so hard and learning so fast in complex areas that often have nothing to do with what they’ve already been exposed to,” she says. “It’s thrilling to watch them ‘get it.’”

In many ways, Ms. MacIntosh is as much a mentor as an instructor. “I make students take a lot of responsibility for their own learning—I think that’s how people transition into being professionals,” she says. “They’re often quite daunted at first, but they tend to rise to the occasion—like when they’re told to take the lead in guiding course discussions in my upper year Aboriginal Law course.”

Ms. MacIntosh also teaches the aboriginal moot course. “It’s different from other moots,” she says. “It requires students to develop both litigation and negotiation skills. This year’s took up issues raised by the Pickton case. Students had to develop and defend litigation strategies for affected communities before a panel of top litigators, then negotiate Terms of Reference for the Pickton Inquiry.”

Ms. MacIntosh was the gold medalist in her law school graduating course. “Students will ask me, ‘How do you do this?’ I tell them to try to find a way to connect with the course subject,” she says. “If you care about what you’re doing, then in my experience, you’re likely to do better.”

And now, as a teacher, she’s still winning awards. “I’m feeling chuffed!” Ms. MacIntosh smiles. “I’m about to receive a teaching award.” As well, she’s just received a research grant from the Atlantic Metropolis Centre, where she’s director of the Justice, Policing, and Security Domain. “The study will be on managing the health risks in immigration. I’ll be hiring students to help with the research.”

After her training as a medical anthropologist, MacIntosh went to law school because she wanted to work on policy issues. A major and continuing focus has been water quality on aboriginal reserves.

“A disproportionate number of them are on boil-water advisories, which hits health and living standards in a myriad of ways. That’s the kind of stuff that drives me,” Ms. MacIntosh explains. “If we have the political will, the funding, and the knowledge, then why are these problems persisting?”