Mini Law School

Always wanted to know what it's like to go to law school?

Come and find out at a free series of engaging public lectures that will give you a taste of what a legal education is all about. There's no cost to attend - and better still, no tests to write - just come with a curious ear to listen to fascinating lectures from some of the law school's most talented faculty.

Who can come?

Everyone welcome!

What are the lectures about?

Each lecture looks at contemporary issues in law and how they apply to our lives and society.


Wednesdays from 7- 8:30 pm.


Room 104, Weldon Law Building, Schulich School of Law Dalhousie University
6061 University Ave, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2

Need more information?

Contact: Stephanie Hurley, Manger of Communications, Schulich School of Law or 902-494-2618

One important note:  There will be time for questions and answers at the end of each lecture, though the general nature of each topic means the lecture is not the place to look for individual legal advice.






25 Nov 2015

Responding to Cyberbullying: There's No App for That
with Professor Wayne MacKay, CM, QC, LLD, Yogis & Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law

Cyberbullying is a complex social problem with serious human consequences – one that needs a response on many levels: via education, prevention, support, and legal sanctions.

The law can be part of our response to the problem, but it will never be a complete fix to the problem. The law is limited when it comes to addressing some of the core issues that lead to cyberbullying: deteriorating human relationships, lack of respect and empathy for others, and failure to take responsibility for our actions. The law must also balance competing interests and values, such as: support for victims; fair treatment of alleged bullies; and respect for privacy, anonymity, and freedom of speech. In this session, we'll explore the roles the law can play in responding to cyberbullying.

28 Oct 2015

Religion, Conscience, Expression & Political Thought – Your Fundamental Freedoms
with Jodi Lazare, Doctor of Civil Law Candidate

What is freedom of conscience and religion? What about the right to free speech and political thought? How far do these rights go and how can they be limited?

In this lecture, Jodi Lazare will discuss the scope of these constitutional rights and freedoms and how they come up in everyday life. She will explore what sorts of activities and practices are constitutionally protected, which ones are not, and how courts evaluate claims under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

30 Sept 2015

Preparing for Paris – An Update on the UN Climate Negotiations
with Professor Meinhard Doelle

This December, current climate negotiations are set to conclude in Paris, with a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol – one that is expected to keep global average temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, and lead global community away from fossil fuels and toward carbon neutrality well before the end of this century.

In this Mini Law School session, Professor Meinhard Doelle, the director of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute, will bring us up-to-date on some of the key issues in the negotiations, including: emission reductions, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity, long-term vision, and compliance.



24 Sept 2014

The War on Drugs: Is it Time for a Ceasefire?
with Professor Archie Kaiser  

Canadian criminal law has many functions, some of which are well accepted, while others are an obvious overreach. The criminalization of non-prescription drugs is often seen as damaging, futile, heavy-handed, and counterproductive.

In this lecture, we will review the many levels of harm that have been caused by the reflexive deployment of the criminal law. We will present policy alternatives and discuss the possibilities of how a ceasefire could address the risks of production, distribution and use of currently illicit substances.

22 Oct 2014

Legal Regulation of Research on Animals
with Professor Vaughan Black

Every year, millions of animals are killed during the course of scientific and commercial research at Canadian laboratories, hospitals and universities — including Dalhousie.
What are the legal arrangements that structure and regulate this activity? How does Canada’s management of the use of animals in biomedical and market research compare with that of other countries? Is it time for a review of these laws?

26 Nov 2014

The Perils of Online Buying
with Professor Michael Deturbide

Canadians spend over $18 billion annually for online purchase of goods and services. During the upcoming holiday season, it is estimated that over 60 per cent of Canadians will make an online purchase. But before you click "I agree", you may wish to read the terms of your web purchase agreement carefully.

This session will examine how the law of contract has been adapted to the online environment and how consumer protection laws apply to online purchases. It will illustrate that the adage "buyer beware" has an enhanced meaning on the Internet.

28 Jan 2015

A A Conversation About Dying: What the Law Has to Say
with Professor Jocelyn Downie

The Supreme Court of Canada is considering whether to strike down the Criminal Code prohibitions on assisted dying. The Quebec legislature has passed "An Act respecting end-of-life care" to permit medical aid in dying. Draft legislation has been introduced in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

Professor Downie will talk about these major developments in the law on assisted dying, and invite us to think about some of the open questions still to be answered.

11 Mar 2015

Religious Freedom & Equality Rights - Finding a Just Balance
with Professor Diana Ginn

How should the law respond when concerns about equality collide with concerns for religious freedom? Both freedom of religion and equality rights are entrenched in the Canadian constitution, and the Supreme Court of Canada has said there is no hierarchy of constitutional rights.

Professor Ginn considers what principles should be applied to find a just balance between equality and religious freedom. Discussion includes a focus on the recent Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decision, Trinity Western University v Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.


Sept 2013

Animals and the Law
with Professor Vaughan Black

Pet or property? Free range or small cage? Cure for disease or cruelty by degrees? When it comes to the treatment and protection of animals and the law, the answers to questions like these are often uncomfortable – and complicated.

In this lecture, we'll talk about how the law regards and treats animals in agriculture, in scientific experimentation, as wildlife (huntin', fishin' 'n trappin'), and as companions, and we'll explore the protection (or lack of it) of their lives, welfare, and interests.

23 Oct 2013

Decisions about health and personal care: What does it take to be legally capable?
with Professor Sheila Wildeman

[Presentation - PDF 947 KB]

The ability to make important life decisions -- eg, about health care or entering residential care -- is something many take for granted. But there are various ways that decision-making capacity may be compromised. At our next session, we'll explore how Nova Scotia law determines whether one is capable of making decisions about health and personal care:

* What safeguards should be in place when one's decision-making capacity is assessed?
* What happens if one is deemed "incapable"?
* What would it mean to shift our focus from decision-making capacity to decision-making supports?

20 Nov 2013

Catastrophe And The Law: Community Recovery After A Disaster
with Schulich Fellow Jamie Baxter

Canadians continue to deal with the recent impacts of devastating natural and human-caused disasters in Calgary, Lac-Mégantic, and elsewhere. How might the law help or hinder people in rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities? Join us in our next session, as we trace disaster recovery law and policy in Canada from its early roots in the Halifax explosion of 1917:

  • Who is (or should be) in charge of rebuilding?
  • Is the aftermath of a disaster a good time for big plans to redesign and rejuvenate neighbourhoods?
  • How should we spread the risks of disaster recovery in the future?

12 Feb 2014  

Invisible Riches: Offshore Tax Evasion and the Global "Crackdown"
with Professor Geoff Loomer

Recent studies of international banking data suggest that a staggering amount of global financial wealth (between $US 10 and 20 trillion) is held in "offshore financial centres" or "tax havens", with over $US 5 trillion of such financial wealth being unreported or unidentified. This is despite the fact that governments and international organizations, including the OECD and G20, have aggressively targeted offshore tax evasion since the 2008 financial crisis, with the G20 declaring in 2009 that "the era of banking secrecy is over".

In this lecture we will explore the following questions:

     * What is the nature of the international tax evasion problem, particularly for Canada?
    * How has the Canadian government enhanced our tax laws and treaty networks to stem the outflow of money?
    * Is the Canada Revenue Agency doing anything to bring tax evaders to justice? (or is that the job of the CBC?)
    * Is the era of banking secrecy really over?


26 Sept 2012

Who's Afraid of Extradition? Maybe you should be...
with Professor Robert Currie

With Canadians travelling out of the country more than ever for business and pleasure, what happens if you get into trouble with the law in another country?
In this lecture, we’ll talk about extradition: What is it? Is it different from deportation and expulsion? What protections will the Canadian government provide (or not provide) you? What rights do you have in the process? And do you have to leave Canada to be targeted for extradition to another country (hint: not always!)?

24 Oct 2012

Understanding Sexual Assault Law
with Professor Elaine Craig

Canada's laws on sexual assault have been significantly reformed in the last 30 years, but these changes don't appear to have changed reporting rates, conviction rates, or the way victims experience the criminal justice system. Why not?

In this lecture, we'll explore changes to the definition of consent and the capacity to consent to sexual touching, rules protecting complainants, and some of the obstacles that need to be cleared before we can see real change on issues of sexual violence in Canada.

21 Nov 2012

Why the Promises of Yesterday are the Taxes of Today
with Dean and Weldon Professor Kim Brooks

Taxes matter. In this lecture, we’ll look at why. We promise it won’t hurt (it may even be FUN)! And while we can’t promise that you’ll be better at filing your tax return by the end of class (sorry!), you will come away with a deeper understanding of our tax system and possibly a sudden desire to debate critical tax policy issues with your friends.

23 Jan 2013

Sport: How It Shapes Our Identity – And Our Laws
with Schulich Distinguished Visiting Professor Brent Cotter

Sport plays a powerful role in our society: shaping us as individuals and as citizens, and influencing our identity and even our sense of reality. More than we realize, sport also shapes our laws. Join Professor Cotter and take a fascinating look at the influence of sport on our society and laws, have your questions about sport and the law answered, and offer your thoughts on the ways sport and law mix with society and identity.

20 Feb 2013

Religious Freedom in Canada: The Intersection of Law and Religion
with Professor Diana Ginn

Explore the intersection of law and religion in Canada:
• What does freedom of religion mean?
• What are the legal issues?
• What are the limits on religious freedom in Canada?

6 Mar 2013

Disability, Human Rights & The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Join an esteemed panel of speakers to discuss:

  • How has Canada committed to the equality and full social inclusion of persons with disabilities?
  • Are persons with disabilities enjoying the rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
  • What does the Convention mean for Nova Scotians with disabilities, and how can we ensure an enclusive and accessible Nova Scotia?

Our panelists:

  • David Shannon, Director and CEO, Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission - "Background, History and Significance of the CRPD"
  • Steve Estey, Chair, International Committee, Council of Canadians with Disabilities - "Legal background of the CRPD"
  • Archibald Kaiser, Professor, Schulich School of Law - "Evaluating Domestic Legislation with a CRPD Lens" [Presentation - PDF 318 KB]
  • Christine Ogaranko, Principal Researcher, Mental Health and Human Rights Evaluation Project, Mental Health Commission of Canada - "Focus on CRPD Article 12, Equal Recognition before the Law"
  • Sheila Wildeman, Associate Professor, Schulich School of Law - "Focus on Article 29, Participation in Political and Public Life" [Presentation - PDF 375 KB]
  • Anne MacRae, Executive Director, Disabled Persons Commission - "Community Engagement with the CRPD"
  • Anna MacQuarrie, Human Rights Officer, Inclusion International -
    Discussion [Presentation - 389 KB]
  • Moderator: Ann Divine, Manager, Race Relations, Equity & Inclusion
    Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

17 Apr 2013

Demystifying the Mental Disorder Defence
with Professor Archie Kaiser

People with mental health problems face persistent stigmas; when they come into conflict with the law, they often face minor charges and tend not to fare well in our justice system. Less frequently and only in the most serious cases, some accused persons choose the highly-publicized-but-not-well-understood “mental disorder defence.”

In this lecture, we’ll talk about the difficulties people with mental health problems face in our justice system and take a detailed look at the mental disorder defence. What is it? When can it be used? How does it work? And if successful, what does it mean for the accused?


26 Oct 2011

Law and Religion: Interactions in a Modern Democratic State
with Professor Diana Ginn

9 Nov 2011

The State of the UN Climate Change Negotiations: A Preview of the December 2011 Durban Conference
with Professor Meinhard Doelle

18 Jan 2012

Who the Heck Owns My Health Information?
with Professor Elaine Gibson

We give our health care providers detailed and highly personal information about our health when we seek care and treatment. Once we give this information, how can it be used? Can it be shared? Who owns it? Can it be corrected or deleted if we believe it's inaccurate? What does the Nova Scotia government do to protect personal health information?

1 Feb 2012

Understanding the Law of Negligence
with Professor David Blaikie
View again in iTunes.

15 Feb 2012

The Virtuous Lawyer: A Short Lecture... with a Long Appendix
with Professor Richard Devlin

7 Mar 2012

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
with Professor Jocelyn Downie

21 Mar 2012

Honesty, The Best Policy: Good Faith in Insurance Law
with Professor Lorraine Lafferty

4 Apr 2012

Buried Treasure: The Use and Abuse of Tax Havens
with Professor Geoffrey Loomer


20 Jan 2011

Dilemmas in Canadian Sentencing Law
with Professor Archie Kaiser

In the first lecture of our Mini Law School series, we look at dilemmas in Canadian sentencing law.

"What we see on the news tends to be the 'bottom line' of the judge's sentence," explains Professor Kaiser. "What we don't often have access to are the full reasons given by the court, and this can be really frustrating for members of the public who may perceive a sentence as being 'too lenient'. But sentencing isn't as easy as you might think! You can't just say 'lock them up and throw away the key'—among other things, you have to consider the protection of society and how that is best achieved, the pain of victims, the rehabilitation and reintegration of most offenders, and the messages that the sentence sends. In my lecture, I'll review the context and the basic law on sentencing and then present some fairly typical scenarios to get participants thinking about what would be an appropriate sentence, given the law and our legal system, and we'll work through how a decision must be rationalized before it's handed down."

3 Feb 2011

Your Will and You
with Professor Faye Woodman

17 Feb 2011

Animals and the Law
with Professor Vaughan Black

Pet or property? Free range or small cage? Cure for disease or cruelty by degrees? When it comes to the treatment of animals and the law, the answers to questions like these are often uncomfortable -- and complicated.

In this session, we look comparatively at how the law regards the treatment of animals in agriculture, scientific experimentation, as wildlife, and as companions, exploring the protection (or lack of it) of their lives, welfare, and interests.  

While federal and provincial regulations do address issues such as the protection of endangered species, intensive farming practices, the transportation and slaughter of animals, animal experimentation, and animals used for entertainment (zoos, rodeos, and circuses) -- and do assign criminal penalties for animal cruelty -- the laws in Canada are less robust than we might think.

"We have an image of ourselves as the Boy Scouts of the world," says Vaughan Black, professor with the Schulich School of Law. "But when it comes to animal welfare and regard for the suffering of animals under the law, Canada is not comparable with other leading countries. We are, in fact, out of step with legislation in many industrialized democracies, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, and most of the European Union."

Where other movements demanding social justice have, in the space of a generation, made some remarkable progress -- among them gender, race, sexual orientation, and the environment -- the same can't be said for animal welfare. As Professor Black points out: "Animal welfare simply hasn't achieved the successes of other movements. In fact, the situation is worse now than it was 70 years ago."

"We currently don't recognize animal welfare institutionally with a 'Minister for Animals', for example. In the absence of such, we should at least be asking questions about what justice requires of us when it comes to the treatment and protection of animals and how we are to regard their welfare and suffering," says Black.

3 Mar 2011

What Truth? What Reconciliation?
Understanding the work of the Indian
Residential Schools Truth and
Reconciliation Commission
with Professor Jennifer Llewellyn and Dr Mike DeGagné

In this session, Dr Mike DeGagné and Professor Jennifer Llewellyn outline the history of the residential schools system in Canada and the work of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission in encouraging truth, healing, and reconciliation between former students, their families, communities, religious entities, former school employees, and the government and people of Canada.

17 Mar 2011

The Role of Corporations in Society
with Professor Sarah Bradley

At this session, we look at corporations close-up. How should we look at the role of corporations in society: As an efficient model for financing, making, and selling widgets? As a Leviathan wielding enough power to cripple entire economies? As a "a state within a state" that exerts more political/social/economic influence on our daily lives than even some governments?

"It's tempting to blame or demonize the 'big bad corporations' for the failures of capitalism," says Professor Sarah Bradley of the Schulich School of Law. "And we should certainly look at the problems created with this system, but we shouldn't overlook the very important role that corporations do play in society."

31 Mar 2011

An Introduction to Copyright Law
Graham Reynolds

Rip. Burn. Share. Repeat. Whether it's music or movies, software or images, the digital age opens up a world of opportunity for sharing all kinds of content online -- and a Pandora's Box of issues around copyright law.

At this session, we explore some of the issues and myths around copyright, such as:

  • What is copyright and why does it matter?
  • Is it ever legal to download songs or movies from peer-to-peer file sharing systems? (You might be surprised by the answer!)
  • Are there any defences to copyright infringement?
  • Once content is posted online, is it freely available for anyone to use?
  • Do we have a right to make a copy of a work for personal use?
  • How are "digital locks" being used, and how do they relate to copyright?