Estate Planning

With the aging Canadian population, incapacity and estate planning is a growth area of legal practice.  This course is intended as a study and application of how to craft a basic incapacity and estate plan.   It will cover, briefly, commonly used incapacity and succession planning tools such as powers of attorney, Wills, trusts, corporations, joint ownership with right of survivorship, gifts to family, domestic contracts and shareholder agreements, life insurance, and tax deferred retirement plans.  We will examine possible strategies, some applicable legal considerations, and potential Canadian income tax impact to a client’s goals for their own situation and plan.    

By registering for this course, students acknowledge that short portions of their submitted assignments (on a no name basis) may be subsequently used in class, for review and education purposes, in compliance with the Fair Dealing Guidelines for York Faculty and Staff.

Dispute Settlement

This Dispute Settlement seminar provides students with an introduction to and overview of appropriate ways to resolving disputes in disparate legal contexts. Students will be introduced to a variety of topics, including: mediation theory & practice, how to build a reflective mediation practice, how to effectively participate as counsel to a civil law mediation; negotiation theory and practice,  how to identify and develop effective mediator and negotiator micro-skills, how to identify high-conflict parties, and how to map out alternative dispute resolution paths in high-conflict settings, such as value-based conflicts. Teaching methods include: lectures (Socratic and otherwise), facilitated class discussions, interactive small and larger group exercises, instructional videos, and panel discussions with relevant guest speakers.

Students are expected to attend all classes (whether online or in person), to actively participate in the class and in the various course exercises, to complete the required readings for each class, and to complete any in-class assignments. In addition, students will be expected to prepare a research-based scholastic paper.

Theory and Practice of Mediation

The mediation seminar offers students an opportunity to develop an understanding of the utility and impact of mediation within the context of dispute resolution in Canada. Students will gain an understanding of mediation through the weekly seminars, simulations, reflections, and, circumstances permitting, co-mediations at Small Claims Courts in Ontario.

The seminar will examine the utility of mediation and alternative dispute resolution, ethical and professional responsibility issues that arise in practice, the role of emotion, gender and culture in the process, and analyze the issues that students encounter in their own mediations and simulations.

The seminar includes i) mediation training, including weekly simulations, and introduction to mediation and mediation-advocacy theory; ii) weekly seminars, guest lectures, and discussions and critiques of the course readings; iii) mediations in small claims courts; and iv) a reflective research paper comprised of issues discussed in the seminar, raised in assigned readings and confronted in students’ mediations.

Administration of Civil Justice: Estate Litigation

This seminar will examine the substantive, procedural, and practical issues surrounding litigating certain claims by and against estates. Topics may include, depending upon available time, a detailed review of will challenges, dependant support claims, appointment and removal of estate trustees, passing of accounts, quantum meruit claims, and solicitor’s negligence in drafting wills. We will also examine the role of mandatory mediation and other negotiation techniques in resolving estate litigation.

For each of these topics, we will explore how a client’s case is developed through the interaction of the case law, the Rules of Civil Procedure, the applicable statutes, the rules of evidence, and the psychology of the family unit.

Lawyer as Negotiator

Given the current conditions and anticipating the University’s facilitation of public health directives, this course will be held via live-streamed sessions. There may be occasional opportunities to attend workshops in person, possibly on Wednesday or Friday afternoons. These additional sessions would be offered on an entirely optional basis and attendance would be voluntary.

Law schools have traditionally prepared lawyers for litigation and the courts, although in practice lawyers spend much of their time resolving disputes through forms of dispute resolution, including negotiation and mediation. Lawyer as Negotiation is designed to familiarize students with representative negotiation theory and practice, and specifically how theory informs the development of bargaining strategy in a legal setting. Students will attend weekly lectures, conduct negotiation simulations, and participate in small group discussions and reflections which will introduce and critique the principles of representative negotiation. Students will be expected to prepare detailed negotiation plans for their weekly negotiations as well as a final negotiation held at the end of the semester. Students will be coached and critiqued by dispute resolution practitioners throughout the year and will be encouraged to reflect on and discuss their weekly negotiations in small working groups of either 14 or 16 students.
The first half of the course will introduce students to distributive and integrative bargaining techniques as well as the importance of developing a negotiation strategy and a detailed plan for each negotiation. The second half of the course will focus on the importance of power, gender, culture, ethics, and emotions, among other issues, in representative negotiations.

Refugee Law

Refugee protection is in a perpetual state of crisis, both domestically and abroad. Many refugee law practitioners and scholars argue that states are retrenching from their duty to provide refugees with the protection to which they are entitled under international law. At the same time, some government actors, media figures and civil society groups contend that existing refugee determination processes are excessively generous and are subject to widespread “abuse” by economically motivated migrants. Still others suggest that refugee protection regimes either distract from or help reinforce a deeper problematic: control over migration that serves to entrench global disparities in income, wealth and security.

This course offers students an opportunity to engage critically with these and other debates over refugee law at the level of theory, policy and practice. This critical engagement will occur through a collaborative examination of refugee law instruments, institutions and jurisprudence in international and domestic forums, with a heavy emphasis on Canada.  

The course will be offered through live lectures and class discussions. The course will also include several weeks of student-led teaching in the second half of the term. There will be two written assignments. This course requires consistent and active student participation throughout the term, including participation in evaluated group work. There is no final exam or final paper. The course, including all evaluated work, will be complete by April 8.

NOTE: If Covid-related restrictions permit live in-person classes on campus, students will have the option of attending in-person or remotely (in which case we will be using technology from the Refugee Law Laboratory to facilitate hybrid in-person / remote learning). If Covid-related restrictions do not permit in-person classes on campus, all classes will be held remotely via Zoom.

Taxation Law

This course introduces the fundamental principles of the Canadian federal income tax system. We will focus on building the vocabulary of taxation and exploring the social, political, and economic factors that shape the development of the law. By the end of the course, students should understand why societies tax, who and what they tax, and how they do so; be familiar with the general structure and principles of the Canadian federal income tax system; and develop skills in close, critical reading and interpretation of primary and secondary legal sources.
The central focus of the course is on the tax principles for the treatment of revenue, losses, and expenses earned or incurred by individuals. The course also introduces how corporations and related entities are taxed and how the Canadian tax system attempts to integrate, although imperfectly, the corporate and the personal income tax systems to reduce economic double taxation. We will further discuss general tax policy issues and situate the income tax within the broader Canadian tax system. To ensure students obtain a practical understanding of tax law in practice, the course will introduce the tax administration and tax dispute resolution frameworks.
Throughout the course, students will also have the opportunity to build their skills in drafting short tax opinions, interpreting complex statutes, and applying tax rules to facts and making arguments in support of a taxpayer opinion


This course will provide a survey of key issues relating to trusts and trustees. The topics to be covered include: the juridical nature of the trust as a distinctive legal relationship, the reasons for which trusts are established (or come into existence by operation of law), the means by which trusts are established, and the different species of trusts, including express trusts, purpose trusts, constructive trusts and resulting trusts, and issues relating to trustee duties. Some equitable doctrines beyond the trust proper may be covered if time permits.

Children And The Law

This seminar will examine both theoretical and practical aspects of child protection law. The theoretical component will include an analysis of family autonomy in the face of state intervention and the best interests of children in a risk-driven protection environment as opposed to the conventional benefits-driven best interests tests applied in private custody cases. We will explore Charter implications of various aspects of child protection law throughout the seminar, as well as the inter-disciplinary nature of child protection work.
The practical component will provide students with the opportunity to examine child protection issues through case studies and to engage in case preparation for selected fact patterns. Both theoretical and practical components will examine tactical, ethical and policy questions throughout the seminar.  

Health Law

This seminar explores the dynamic and challenging field of health law, with a focus on practical issues.  The course provides a survey of the legal framework and policy considerations underlying the cornerstone areas of health law, including: consent to treatment; mental capacity and substitute decision-making; professional regulation and governance; medical malpractice; emergency management and civil protection; and health information privacy. Practical and topical issues will be explored in the areas of: elder law (issues in long-term care facilities, retirement homes); the law of medical assistance in dying in Canada; human rights in health care; hospitals and health care facilities (including physician privileges, employment issues and tensions between administrators, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders); pandemic and emergency management; reproductive health and surrogacy; and research ethics.  

Typical seminars will cover substantive law including case law and statutes, as well as policy issues and professional responsibility concerns. Students are expected to actively participate via class discussion and a class presentation. Guest speakers will provide unique perspectives on particular topics.  Students will be asked to attend (in person or through electronic means) a hearing in the health law field and to reflect on that proceeding in a midterm written paper.  Through readings, class discussion and assignments, students will gain a foundation for a dedicated health law practice or an analytical framework for addressing health law issues as they arise in other practice areas.