Michael Deturbide, professor of law and technology

A day in the life

Michael Deturbide, professor of law and technology

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You never know where you’ll end up. It’s not uncommon to see first-year students who aren’t sure they want to become lawyers. But studying law is very useful, both personally and in terms of the market place.

Keeping up with changes in technology


Busy only begins to describe a typical semester in Michael Deturbide’s life. On top of teaching and serving his second three-year term as Associate Dean, he’s the Associate Director of Dal’s Law and Technology Institute. He’s also on the credentials committee for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.

And he’s working on a book with his colleague, Teresa Scassa, at the University of Ottawa. “It’s the second edition of Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada. But it’s almost a rewrite,” he says. “This area of law has changed so much.”

That’s because technology has changed so quickly. “The privacy protocols we’d established aren’t sufficient anymore,” Mr. Deturbide adds. “But for this generation of students, technology is their modus operandi—many of them are pondering the consequences of their use of the Internet, especially social media. Privacy issues have become very significant.”

Students aren’t, however, always so enthusiastic about taking Mr. Deturbide’s basic corporate law course—at least, not at first. “They often feel they have to take it. So it’s gratifying to hear later that they’re thrilled with it because they’ve come to understand how corporate law infiltrates everything.”

Aside from inspiring students in his courses, Mr. Deturbide also encourages them to be socially conscious. “We try to instil in them the Weldon tradition of public service. We look for it in applicants and see it in students when they’re here—they’re involved in anything from organizing a charity drive to advising a non-profit organization. Unselfish public service is part of what we are.”

Mr. Deturbide himself has made contributions to the community. “I’ve been on the boards of various arts organizations, including the Neptune Theatre, giving advice on law and technology issues.”

And he supports the Dalhousie community by providing employment opportunities for law students. “This summer, a student will help research the book,” he says. “And I and my co-editor at the Canadian Journal of Law and Technology have hired students to proofread. Students get a summer job that lets them apply their knowledge.”