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Faculty of Law makes history with sitting of the court

Court of Appeal of Alberta holds its first sitting outside the courthouse in honour of law school’s 40th anniversary

"Oyez, oyez, oyez! This ceremonial Sitting of the Court of Appeal of Alberta in celebration of the ruby anniversary of the foundation of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary is now in session. All persons having business before this honourable court, draw nigh and you shall be heard. God save the Queen!"

As the Faculty of Law’s 40th, or ruby, anniversary year ends, it seemed fitting to use the occasion to make history. On Feb. 16, the law school hosted the Ceremonial Sitting of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, which was the first time the court had sat outside the law courts in Edmonton and Calgary, and the first time the court had convened a panel of eight judges. There are typically only three on a panel at any one time, and only very occasionally will the court sit in a panel of five.

“Our founders made history when they successfully fought for the creation of our law school more than 40 years ago,” says Ian Holloway, dean of the law school. “To be able make history again as we close out our anniversary celebrations was very serendipitous.”

The room was filled with good cheer and pride as the audience listened to the great institution the law school has become; from a law school drawing the skepticism of law firms for its focus on skills, to one that is recognized as a leader in innovation for the practice of law. Craig Steele, LLB’89 and past-president of the Calgary Bar Association, said about the mooting and debating program, “This law school, with its focus on practical learning, helped me hone my advocacy skills for my career and set me up for continued success.”

Tony Young, president of the Law Society of Alberta, echoed Steele’s comments, saying, “The Faculty of Law is a leader in innovation in the practice of law, giving students a better understanding of the practical realities of the profession before they enter the legal marketplace.”

“Each student enters the law school with a sense of purpose,” said Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, past recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary, who led the sitting. “And these students graduate with a greater sense of the human experience and are voluntarily assuming the role as guardians of the rule of law.”

Chief Justice Fraser implored students to “keep the faith, and pass on the rule of law in at least as good shape as it was given to you.”

Originally published in UToday, February 22, by Ali Abel. 

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