The I-Factor

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Osgoode looks brightly toward the future with compelling, new, innovative courses.

Creating something new and original that positively influences how we teach and learn at Osgoode is part of the process of innovating, and one area where innovation – “The I-Factor” – is very much in play is in new course development.

With the legal profession and legal education undergoing a period of intense change driven largely by technology, the need for innovation that capitalizes on new ways of thinking and prepares the next cohort of lawyers to meet a changing legal world is of paramount importance.

Osgoode’s JD program offers more courses and seminars than any Canadian law school (approximately 125), with a healthy number of brand new courses in that mix. Here’s a sampling of compelling, new credit and non-credit courses at Osgoode that are high on innovation.

Justice Design Project

I-Factor: Brings together a multidisciplinary group of students to tackle access to justice issues, which reinforces the idea that we need to cooperate and collaborate in order to innovate.

Goal: To provide post-secondary students with the opportunity to learn about innovation, its various tools and methods and how these tools are being applied to the justice sector, all in a hands-on environment.

Learning Methods: Hands-on learning assignments, experiential, design-focused. Non-credit course runs annually for one week in late August.

Instructors: Nicole Aylwin, Assistant Director, Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, and invited guests

Beyond Bay St.: Starting up a Small or Solo Practice

I-Factor: Students want to imagine careers in law that make money, do social good and offer autonomy and work-life balance. The market is tight and jobs are scarce. Self employment is a viable option but law school does little to prepare future lawyers for the business, technology and culture of the profession. This course seeks to change that.

Goal: Guide students in how to set up and run a professional, ethical, small or solo legal practice, and develop understanding of the larger changes shaping the landscape in which these practices operate.

Learning Methods: Seminar, discussions, group work and assignments, simulations. Credit course in winter term.

Instructor: Professor Faisal Bhabha

International and Transnational Law Intensive Program

I-Factor: First course of its kind in Canada in its design, integration of theory and practice, focus on international and transnational law, and in its utilization of internet conferencing technology to allow Osgoode-based instructors simultaneously to teach the seminar component of the course to students who have been placed in various international organizations around the world.

Goal: Help students develop specialized knowledge of international and transnational law in a program that integrates scholarly perspectives, skills development, and reflective practice.

Learning Methods: Three-month placement in an international organization, Canadian NGO, community legal clinic or law firm that deals routinely with international law issues; two-hour weekly seminar that runs concurrently with the placement; research paper. Credit course in winter term.

Founder: Professor Obiora Okafor

Instructors: Professor Craig Scott and Adjunct Professor Geri Sadoway

Justice Innovation & Access to Justice Program

Designing the Future of Justice: Introduction to Legal Design

I-Factor: Students learn the skills needed in a changing legal environment to design affordable and effective legal services that respond directly to client needs.

Goal: Teach students to recognize the opportunities for innovation and develop skills to design legal services that directly address the needs of justice users.

Learning Methods: Weekly three-hour seminar; design sessions with community partners; writing a journal containing students’ field notes and reflections on their community-based design sessions; delivery of a final design process document. Credit course in fall term.

Instructor: Nicole Aylwin, Assistant Director, Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution

Access to Justice and Innovation

I-Factor: Students critically explore access to justice challenges facing many Canadians, and explore theories and methods that will help them to become leaders in addressing these complex problems.

Goal: Provide an experiential learning experience that exposes students to current research and thinking on innovation, the various methods of innovation being experimented with in the justice system, and how these methods may be used to improve access to justice.

Learning Methods: Weekly three-hour seminar; course readings; experiential learning assignment in which students work collaboratively with a justice stakeholder group that faces significant access to justice challenges; student report on an access to justice focus area and development of a proposal for a one-day access to justice and innovation forum. Credit course in winter term.

Instructors: Nicole Aylwin, Assistant Director, Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, and Visiting Professor Martha Simmons

Legal Information Technology

I-Factor: Technology has transformed how we shop (Amazon), how we socialize (Facebook), and how we take a cab (Uber), but how is it transforming the law? The Legal Information Technology course takes a look at the cutting edge technologies that are transforming the law, and then puts students in the driver’s seat to imagine and design their own mobile or web app.

Goal: Introduce students to the legal marketplace of the future, and empower them to participate in or lead the transformation of legal service delivery.

Learning Methods: Lectures in person or remotely; ‘flipped’ classroom lectures; experimentation with information communication technologies; participation in a variety of exercises from online dispute resolution to document automation; hands-on learning assignments; two critical writing pieces. Credit course in winter term.

Instructors: Adjunct Professor Monica Goyal; Adjunct Professor Darin Thompson; Nicole Aylwin, Assistant Director, Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution

Learning and Leading Series

Business Fundamentals

I-Factor: Teaches critical financial skills that law students often lack and reviews the ever important need for corporate social responsibility.

Goal: To provide financial skills (reading and analyzing financial information, valuation tools and social responsibility issues relating to international income taxes) that will complement the extensive knowledge of a legal professional. The course also illustrates how the pursuit of financial goals sometimes affects corporate social responsibility.

Learning Methods: Case studies, lectures, hands-on learning assignments, group work, analysis. Non-credit course runs for one week and is offered twice in May and once in August.

Instructor: Beppino Pasquali, a Chartered Professional Accountant and Adjunct Professor at Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Professional Development

Sponsored by the Davies Fund for Business Law at Osgoode

French Legal Terminology Roundtables

I-Factor: Prepares students for the challenges of practising in French in Ontario by bringing in a broad range of guest speakers including judges, lawyers and others to provide perspectives and practical tips.

Goal: To enhance students’ French language capabilities and provide experiential hands-on learning opportunities for students in the French language.

Learning Methods: Hands-on learning assignments, panel discussions, research, legal writing in French. Non-credit course in winter term.

Leaders: Graduate Program students Vivian Garofalo, Isabelle Owston and Melanie Deshaies

*Two more courses in the series –Tech Transformation & Law, and Developing Client & Community Relationships in Legal Practice – will be introduced in 2017.

OsgoodePD – Conducting Effective Corporate Due Diligence (e-Learning edition)

I-Factor: By enabling the selection of relevant modules, any legal professional [or student] – first-year associate or junior law clerk  to senior partner – can select the specific topics of interest, from managing the due diligence process to specific substantive areas such as employment and financial statements, and receive world-class instruction and real-time exercises to apply the [lessons].

Goal:  Developed specifically for the online learner, the program provides legal professionals with the practical tools and strategies they need to effectively manage the due diligence process in corporate transactions.

Learning Methods:  Learners complete online exercises and work through the steps of a typical sales transaction of a private company, including setting up and managing the virtual data room. With online prompts from subject matter experts, learners gain practical skills and obtain substantive resources, checklists and templates. The program is available on demand 24/7.  Registrants have access to program modules and content for one year from date of purchase. Pre-orders start October 2016.

Program Director:  Jason (Jake) Bullen, Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

This article first appeared in the print version of The Osgoode Brief Alumni Newsletter (Fall 2016).