As Osgoode students conclude their first week of classes, the law school’s award-winning professors are looking to the academic year ahead with the same sense of excitement and anticipation.
“I believe that as an institution and a group, we have a deep respect for students’ learning and well-being,” said tax law Professor Ivan Ozai. “Faculty members at Osgoode are urged to pursue their particular research interests but are also incentivized and inspired to devote time, interest and effort to understand and accommodate every student’s needs.”
Earlier this year, Ozai, Professor Jennifer Nadler and adjunct faculty member Aubrey Kauffman received 2023 Osgoode Faculty Teaching & Service Awards, which are based on nominations from students. The 2023 service award went to Professor Janet Mosher. Ozai won in the category of full-time faculty with less than 10 years of experience, Nadler for full-time faculty with more than 10 years of service and Kauffman for adjunct faculty.
The Osgoode Professional Development Professional LLM Award was presented to Professor Poonam Puri, while OsgoodePD’s CLE Contribution Award went to Lauren Bernardi, the founder and managing partner with Toronto-based Bernardi Human Resource Law LLP. Bernardi is co-director of OsgoodePD’s certificate programs in workplace mental health law and workplace investigations. Puri, the director of OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Business Law program, is an internationally recognized scholar in corporate law, corporate governance and capital markets regulation.
Ozai, a former tax court judge and senior government official in Brazil who joined Osgoode in 2021, called the recognition from students “an unparalleled honour.”
“I couldn’t feel more blessed!” he said. “Teaching, for me, is a calling, and tax law is my passion. Every new academic year is a fresh start and allows us to reconsider some teaching methods and course materials.”
“What I am most passionate about teaching tax law,” he added, “is that it allows us to reflect with students on fundamental questions about what kind of society we want to – and can – have. Teaching tax law raises these questions and motivates us to think hard about how to practically achieve any desired social policy goals.”
Nadler, who was appointed a full-time faculty member in July 2017, said she feels privileged to teach 1L students and to be recognized for her teaching efforts.
“First-year students are so engaged and enthusiastic and eager to learn and it’s such a joy to be part of that,” she said. “It’s nice when they see the effort and attention you put into it and your desire to see them succeed.”
Nadler will be on sabbatical during the 2023-24 academic year and, among other things, hopes to attend law workshops in the U.K. and Berkeley, Calif. She is working with another professor on developing a course for September 2024 on the historical origins of equity law.
Kauffman, who teaches bankruptcy and insolvency law, said he likes to tell the story in his first class each year of how he met his future wife on the first day of law school. Both fared well in their studies because of their prodigious ability to memorize facts.
“But I never understood why any of this was,” confessed the Toronto-based partner with Fasken. “When I got into practice and learned more about why cases are what they are, I thought, I’d love to teach law school from the perspective of a practitioner and explain what’s really happening in a case from a business standpoint – why are people having this fight and why is a judge helping one side or the other?
“So that’s the lens through which I teach my course,” he added, “and winning this award, I feel validated in that the students like this approach and they get a lot out of it.”
Kauffman said that teaching has made him a better practicing lawyer. “Busy lawyers don’t have time to read the body of law that they practice in,” he explained. “You focus on fact-specific issues. But being able to go back each year and read and re-read the seminal Supreme Court cases has been so valuable. Every time I teach the course, I learn more of the nuance that I wasn’t aware of.”