The Common Law Section class of 2025 has arrived at Fauteux Hall for the beginning of in-person classes after two years of on-line hybrid teaching.
The new cohort was welcomed by Kristen Boon, the Susan & Perry Dellelce Dean of Common Law, accompanied by Claudette Commanda, Elder-in-Residence of the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, who will assume the position of Chancellor of the University of Ottawa on November 9.
In her outdoor welcome to the students, Dean Boon noted that over 3000 people applied to enter their class.
"That means there are many other who wished they could be sitting here with you today. Look around. Together you are going to impact justice here in Canada and throughout the world."
Boon said the class is "rich in size and scope" and reflects the Faculty's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
"You are the future leaders of this country. You will join an illustrious group of alumni, which include Supreme Court judges, cabinet ministers, partners at law firms, entrepreneurs, advocates and other prominent members of Canadian society. You will do many things outside traditional law careers, such as being entrepreneurs, policy makers, and MPs.
"You will work across sectors, for big and small clients. You will work internationally, you will work in rural communities, with clients of all different backgrounds. You will work in French and English, and maybe other languages too.
"We are building a community here while we are studying together. I will work with you to nurture this now. It will be an important network available to you in the future."
She noted that members of the incoming class speak no less than 13 languages and some are entrepreneurs, served in the military, have PhDs in the sciences, and are concert musicians.
"My message to you this morning is to take a wide view. Take risks, be flexible, try new things.
"If you are interested in human rights, take a tax law course. If you excel at oral skills, look into our legal writing academy.
"Here at the University of Ottawa, we will make you great lawyers, but we also want to make you great people. Remember: a good student is one who serves his or her community well.
"Being a good lawyer is more than focussing on your grades."
David Wiseman, Vice-Dean of the English Program, and Alain Roussy, Vice-Dean of the French Program, welcomed the new students in person and conveyed their best wishes for the new academic year 2022-2023.
The day of celebration continued with the Dean’s BBQ on the Morisset terrace, where more than 450 students and staff members enjoyed the lunch offered by the Faculty. The good mood was palpable at the Dean's BBQ - the first since the pandemic began - as faculty and staff joined students for lunch.
Besides the start of classes, a week of orientation included special sessions on Indigenous Legal Traditions (a recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), legal writing, mooting and happiness, wellness and mental health.
The week ended with the resumption of a pre-COVID Common Law tradition - an outdoor reception in a giant tent on the lawn in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.
This year, the 2L and 3L classes joined in as well since they had missed the opportunity during the pandemic.
Justice Andromache Karakatsanis brought greetings on behalf of the Supreme Court and offered students some helpful advice on how to succeed in law school and the legal profession based on her own non-traditional career.
The Supreme Court's newest member - and first Indigenous justice - Michelle O'Bonsowin, a proud Common Law grad, also attended and was heartily cheered by the students.
Ontario Bar Association (OBA) president Karen Perron, LLB '03 also welcomed students - the OBA co-sponsored the event.
And in another resumed tradition, each class posed for a picture on the steps of the Supreme Court.
In her remarks, Dean Boon emphasized the special links between the Faculty and the Supreme Court.
" One of the reasons students come to uOttawa is to be in our nation’s capital, and to be close – literally and figuratively - to our most important national institutions – Parliament, government departments, agencies and tribunals. And here we are – on the front lawn of the Supreme Court."
She noted that over 100 graduates, alumni and Faculty members went on to clerk at the Supreme Court.
"While not everyone here will choose to clerk, I guarantee you will get up and close with the Supreme Court and even one of its justices at least once in your time at Fauteux. This is one of the things that makes uOttawa so special."
And now it is on to classes!