2018 Convocation Reception & Awards Ceremony


Good afternoon everybody. My name’s Alexis Archbold, and I’m the Assistant
Dean of the J.D. Program here at the law school. And it’s my great pleasure to serve as your master of ceremonies
at our award ceremony. For those of you who
are still in the atrium, we’d like to ask you to join
us now on the back lawn. I’d also like to note that
we are filming the ceremony, so you’ll be able to look
at it online afterwards. The camera is here to my left. Hand in the air. So, we can avoid walking
in front of the camera. That would be terrific. So, to start off our
program I’d like to invite our dean Ed Lacobucci to provide you with some welcoming remarks. (applauding) Thank you. Thank you Alexis. I want to begin by acknowledging this land on which the University
of Toronto operates. For thousands of years, it
has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Senaca and the Mississauga of the Credit River. Today, this meeting
place is still the home to many indigenous people
from across Turtle Island, and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. Graduates it’s an honor for
me to speak to you today. I face a dilemma however, not unlike one that you face
in your law school examS. I have a lot I would like to say, but a limited time to say it. But let me begin by saying
that this is a special class. And I know you’re thinking
I bet he says that to all the classes, and I do. (laughing) But there are a couple of distinct reasons why this class is special. For one, on a personal
note you’re the first class that’s had me as dean for all three years of your law school. And I especially appreciate
that you don’t know any better. But more importantly you are the best graduating law class in the country and given that admission
standards keep going up and up and up, you’re probably the best graduating class in Canadian history. And I’m serious about that. But you’ve been wonderful to have here. (applauding) But you’ve been wonderful to
have here inside the classroom and outside the classroom. As you came up to the stage today I was asking myself questions like, who’s gonna do our interpretive dance at fall these next year? Who’s gonna be professional editing videos for fall these next year? Who’s gonna have encyclopedic knowledge of The Simpsons to share
with his classmates? Who’s gonna lead the
first generation network? Who’s gonna be our
grand mooters next year? Thank you for all the different ways in which you contributed to our community. As you leave keep in
mind the really terrific words of our Chief Justice. I was recently at an event and somebody with the current
Chief Justice in the audience, somebody in a video had a
quote that I think apropos for many of us here which is, “I know she’s the former Chief Justice, but to me she’ll always
be the Chief Justice. Who is that other guy? He’s not the Chief Justice.” I’m not sure how it went
over with the current Chief, but it resonated with me. But as our Chief Justice said, “A legal education prepares you not just for this coming year, but for a lifetime, whether you end up inside
or outside the law.” It’s not a surprise that
our law school has graduates who are leaders in the profession, but also leaders in public
service, leaders in business, leaders in more besides. You’re the latest members
to one of the more interesting clubs to which one can belong, the U of T Faculty of Law Alumni. To give you a sense of possibilities consider our most recent
distinguished alumni award winner. Herb Solway graduated in the class of 1955 at a time when Jewish lawyers were not welcome at
many Toronto law firms, but being a founder and a
leader of Goodmans for decades, he not only built a firm but he changed the legal
profession in Canada forever. And along the way he brought the help bring the Blue Jays to Toronto as well. Melissa Kennedy is the class of 1987. She raised two teenage boys on her own after losing her husband suddenly. Yet, while doing so built
a remarkable career, which has ended up bearing our pinnacle in the in-house counsel Barr. She’s Chief Legal Officer,
Executive Vice President at Sun Life of Canada. She’s also a strong advocate for diversity in the profession, co-founding the influential Legal Leaders for Diversity organization. So equipped with your innate rare gifts and your great education your
are poised to do great things for yourselves, for your
family and for society. Let me close by thanking
other than our graduates, I wanted to say special words
to our guests here today. There’s no question that a
graduate of this law school stood on the shoulders
of many in getting here. Your support came in many forms, including tolerating a
budding lawyers passion for taking the contrary
position to almost any obviously true proposition
that one could advance. So, to friends, to partners, to families, on behalf of our faculty
thank you for everything. I hope you’re proud of
the indispensable role that you played in contributing
to your loved ones success. (applauding) In closing, graduates I
hope you stay in touch with each other and I hope
that you stay in touch with us. Congratulations. (applauding) Thank you Ed. So, this year we’re gonna
do things a bit differently. Usually, the Hail and Farewell
speech comes at the end. The farewell part being the hint there. But this year our Hail
and Farewell speaker has a conference he’s presenting at 12:45. So, we’re flipping the order. Most of you wouldn’t know this, but we know this at the law school. We’re flipping the order of this program, and we’re going to do
our student choice awards and our Hail and Farewell first, and we’re gonna close our program with the academic award presentation. So to present the student choice awards, it is my great pleasure
to call on Shaun Parsons, one of our graduating class and a student law society representative. Shaun. (applauding) Good afternoon. The first award I would like to present is the Mewett Teaching Award. This award is named after Alain Mewett. He was a particularly beloved professor who taught at the University
of Toronto for many years. This award is given each
year to a faculty member for excellence and teaching. This year the award goes
to Professor Vincent Chiao. (applauding) Oh. I just have something
really nice to say first. (laughing) Students appreciated the
way that Professor Chiao tackled lofty legal topics excessively. He broke the law school mold
as he encouraged learning in an inventive style,
such as using podcasts, visiting courts, supporting
the Mooting Program, and engaging in mock jury deliberations. There is no better
recipient that represents the spectrum of views of
the students at our school from poking fun at certain judges for never meeting a
criminal they don’t like to always reminding us
that if we are ever accused of a crime to stymie
the pursuit of justice as much as possible. The class of 2018 would like to give the Mewett Teaching Award
to Professor Vincent Chiao. (applauding) It is my further pleasure to announce that Professor Chiao is also selected for all the reasons I have just given to provide us with the
Hail and Farewell speech. (applauding) It’s my great honor and delight to be here to give the Hail and Farewell. I’m pretty confident about that part. I’m a little less confident as to what exactly Hail and Farewell is. I suppose that there’s
supposed to be a hail part, so friends, friends and
family, and now former students from the class of 2018, welcome
back to the Faculty of Law. This place does not work without you, without your spirit, your
dedication, your (mumbles). Thank you for making it work. I also want to say right off the bat that I’m very very grateful
to have been chosen for the Mewett Teaching Award. I sincerely hope that I have merited it, though you will in a
better position to judge whether that’s so particularly
in the coming years. I didn’t have the opportunity
to meet all of you, but I am fortunate to know many of you, and a few of you I know quite well. Engaging with students is one of the most rewarding aspects of this job. It’s always been so energizing
to walk into a classroom and know that you’re
prepared, you’re on point, and you’re willing to debate whatever the topic of the day is. In my opinion, law teaching is built on that willingness to
engage, that back and forth, and I am grateful that you
have been with me on that. Part of what makes this job so gratifying is seeing how quickly you’ve become adapt at the basic skills of a lawyer. That is to understand cases,
to interpret statutes, to know when precedent and
authority are controlling and to know when and how that
authority can be challenged. It is also gratifying because the future of the profession is in your hands. This is not just about
protecting the guilt. Although the rule of law
should not be confused with the rule of lawyers, it does seem to me that lawyers
have an especially close relationship to the ideals
of liberal democracy. It’s the job of lawyers to care even when no one else does, and maybe especially when no one else does about the reasons and arguments
that our institutions give for the things that they do. These reasons and arguments are to be sure often just so must post
talk rationalization. But the vitality of our liberal
and democratic traditions depends on insuring that
what our institutions do can be rationalized in
light of what they say. So, I’ve always found it
reassuring that to know from engaging with you in class that you’re not willing
to just let it slide when an explanation is
a little bit sloppier or an argument is maybe a
little bit less compelling than really it aught to be. So kudos. I understand that conventional parts of these types of speeches is
a little bit of life advice. My main piece of life
advice that you probably should not be taking advice
from me, but that said. More than 100 years
ago, 137 to be precise, Oliver Wendell Holmes on an
occasion not unlike this one suggested that young lawyers
look not just the history and to legal traditions, but
to statistics and to economics. I think what Holmes meant is that the law is a human creation and
that it will be bent to serve the needs and the
interests of those who create it. Although the practice
of law has for some time been remarkably resistant
to the forces of innovation that has been transforming
so many other professions. The time when lawyers and
judges can credibly claim a special inclusive insight
into the laws mysteries is rapidly coming to an end. You heard about that this morning. I just want to say a
word more about it now. I think new lawyers, young lawyers, are going to have to be less doctrinaire and more flexible in their
mindsets than ever before. I think Holmes was right about that then, and I think he’s right about it now. What does this mean for
the practice of law? Well who knows really,
but I suspect it will mean that it will become more collaborative but less predictable. That the lines between law and policy blurred as they already are
will become more blurred, and that your value as a
lawyer will increasingly come to rest on how
well you can articulate a compelling account
of how our institutions can use law to serve
our interests and needs, rather than on simply providing transactional legal services. This is an opportunity. It’s a time to think
big and to take risks. Technological innovation
brings real dangers to privacy, to suppression of descent, to entrench discrimination, but it also a potential
to make our institutions and our law more accessible, more accurate and more fair than they are now. Scientific and technological innovation will make it possible
for you to achieve things that earlier generations of lawyers could not have even imagined. So, I want to come now I
guess the farewell part. So, this will be the last time at least for a little while, that you are here assembled as a class. Many of you are staying in Toronto, but many of you are not. In any case, please know
that you’re always welcomed back here home to the Faculty of Law. I’ve had the pleasure of catching up with and even for short
while working along side former students of mine. I hope that tradition continues. In the meantime to the class of 2018, best wishes for wherever
your career takes you. (applauding) Last year the graduating
class institute and award to recognize a staff member who has shown an extraordinary commitment
to assisting students. This year the award
goes to Amanda Carling. (applauding) She is a graduate of this law school and the manager of the
indigenous initiatives office. In blunt, Amanda has changed
the culture of this school. In a short time, she is
responsible for opening new avenues for the education and the growth
of non-indigenous students while remaining a pillar of support and a tireless advocate
for indigenous students. All the good that Amanda has
done supporting indigenous. Oh, I’m a little nervous. Initiatives, is rounded
out by her approachability and her sense of humor. You may recognize her
from the Globe and Mail as a President of the
Aboriginal Legal Services Board of Directors or from walking Jake, the best dog in the world. And the class of 2018
is honored to recognize the commitment of a staff member who has bettered the life and
the education of the students. Amanda. (applauding) The final award I’m gonna present today is the John Willis Award. Named in honor of John Willis, a professor at the Faculty
of Law from 1949 to 1972 and the Gina Caldarelli Memorial
Prize for school spirit. Established in memory of Gina Caldarelli who was a member of the class in 1997. This award recognizes a J.D. student who has made substantial
and meaningful contributions to the law school and
best demonstrated interest in the wellbeing of her classmates. The John Willis and the
Gina Cardarelli Awards go to Katie Longo. (applauding) The University of Toronto and
the class of 2018 specifically gets a lot of flack for having intense and single-minded focus on work. If this focus and work
ethic is what unifies us as a graduating
class, then it is fitting to recognize a student
who has worked tirelessly to advocate for the
students of this law school. From early morning meetings
with the administration to teaching herself finance
in order to understand the effects of new financial aid models, to bringing accessibility to the forefront of students events, and
she is still willing to drop everything after receiving a panicked Facebook
message from a student. Katie was the defacto
point person for a majority of student concerns, and she was a person people could come to and know that will be listened to. There is not one person
in this graduating class who has not benefited from
Katie Longo’s leadership in her position. And her contributions to student wellbeing will extend far beyond her graduation. The class of 2018
recognizes Katie’s devotion and selflessness with the John Willis and Gina Cardarelli Awards. (applauding) Sorry to make you walk back down again. It’s my pleasure now for all
the reasons that Shaun outlined to invite Katie Longo
back up to the podium to say a few words as this
class’ elected valedictorian. (applauding) Good afternoon friends and
family, faculty and staff, and most of all my fellow
graduates of the class of 2018. It’s an honor to represent our class and to have this opportunity
to speak on our behalf. I’d like to first thank Professor Chiao and former Chief Justice McLaughlin for agreeing to be the
warm up acts for my speech. Having to follow such great legal minds has added a lot of
pressure to this address. So, like most of my law school papers I wrote this speech the night before. And like many of U of T law
exams most of the content is recycled from previous years. (laughing) From as early as our
pre-law school orientation, our class has heard a single refrain from the students above us about the character of our year. It was stated in our school newspaper at our annual sketch
show and repeated to us by seemingly every upper
year we encounter it. The class of 2018 it was said consists entirely of nerds and key nerds. This like all over generalizations
is completely accurate. Our class approached law
school with an intensity that permeated every
aspect of our time here. Whether it was through fierce advocacy at one of our legal clinics dominating the Bay Street recruit or writing epic choose your own adventure
articles for U.V., each member of our class
pursued their interest with a passion and
commitment that helped shape our law school culture. Over the past three or
for some of us four years, this culture and environment
has changed not only how we think, but also how we act. To illustrate this I would
like you to think back to three years ago when
wide-eyed and innocent half of us were in Professor
Chiao’s criminal law class in Victoria College. Throughout the lecture the
ceiling was inexplicably dripping water on students who were just trying to learn about mens rea. The dripping intensified
until part of the ceiling finally collapsed with a wet
splatter of dry wall, plaster and probably at least a
little bit of asbestos. Tort or no tort. Back then we lacked the legal knowledge to name what had happened. Most of us hadn’t taken torts yet, and if you were like me you still thought it was a very specific area of
law about a type of dessert. But we were also different then. Our law school education
has not only provided us with a strong understanding of the law. It has turned us into
world class complainers. (laughing) Whether it’s the intersession, (mumbles), we have proved time and time again that we will critic any
perceived injustice. Then we will criticize
that critic and so on, until the (mumbles) sketch on the incident has essentially written itself. But of course it wasn’t all divisive. I think 100% of us can
agree that Falkner Phillis was a magical groundhog who was taken from us far too soon. I’m being flippant about
this quality of our class, but I believe it’s born from
something more powerful. Our legal education has trained us to critically analyze arguments, to research and gather
evidence to support our cause and to deliver that position
in a compelling way. These skills have made us better mooters where our class excelled in writing facta and presenting oral arguments. It made us better legal writers and we published articles
and produced log journals that speak highly of
the academic excellence of this institution. It’s also allowed us
to be better advocates for the vulnerable clients we represented at different legal clinics, like advocates for injured
workers, downtown legal services and the international
human rights program. This commitment and
passion that have justified our keener label were an only
reserve for legal pursuits. Our class formed intramural teams, started clubs covering
a range of interests, worked part time jobs
and planned a million different social events, but
usually failed to make it from the pre-drink to the call to the bar. While we all have thrived at
law school in different ways a few of us have passed these years without experiencing set backs, failures or difficult personal circumstances. For some these set backs have been small, missing a deadline or
dealing with a bad grade. Others have completed
this degree while living with mental illness, dealing
with other health programs or coping with grief
after losing a loved one. Especially for our classmates
who are parents or caregivers, the demands of law school
are difficult to juggle. These struggles however do not detract from our accomplishments
and to not be seen as distinct from them. Instead they remind us
that the path to success is rarely linear and the
destination may vary. They speak to the deep reserves
of resilience and strength that our class possesses and a different important perspectives they will bring to the legal profession. These experiences also remind us of the importance of community and the support that we
received over the years. I know I’m not alone when I
say that most of what I am and all that I’ve achieved
springs from the endless support and love that I received
from my mom and dad. Our parents, guardians and
family were our first teachers, our main cheerleaders and the foundation on which we built our lives. Love is expressed in many forms and I know it can’t do
justice to the diverse ways in which each of us have
experienced our family support. So instead, I would like to simply say to all the family members who
could be here with us today and also to those who couldn’t,
thank you for everything. (applauding) To the partners and spouses
of members of our class, I first and foremost
like to say we’re sorry. I am sure there have been
times when the only thing we could think or talk about was the law, when we spent too much time in the library and not enough time at home, and times when you had to
care about weird letter grades that don’t seem to correspond
to any normal grading system. Your patience and support over these years has been such an integral
part of our lives and we promise that once the Barr is over we’ll be normal again. Our legal education of course
would not have been possible without the faculty here at U of T. You challenged us to work
harder, think differently and engage with all aspects of the law. Many of you showed a
commitment to teaching that embodies the very
best of your profession. Your classes both encouraged
intellectual communion and instilled in us a fear of cold calls that I still have to this day. Apart from your academic contributions you have also acted as role models in other areas of our lives. We generally are so fortunate to receive such a high quality of
education from people who care so strongly about our personal
and professional growth and for that we thank you. Yeah. (applauding) They’re pretty good guys. Come on. We also have to acknowledge
the staff and administrators who have worked tirelessly to provide us with a well-rounded law school experience. Your efforts to make this
law school a more welcoming and inclusive place have
impacted each of us individually. From helping us to
apply for financial aid, to offering career advice,
to dealing with any crisis of whatever magnitude we experienced, your guidance and care
have meant so much to us. I’d also like to take a
moment to thank T.D. Bank and uncle Scotia. They lent most of us $150,000 each, so that we could attend this law school and for that we’ll never
be able to repay them. (laughing) (applauding) And no discussion of the encouragement we’ve had over the years would be complete without acknowledging the way our class and our friends in the
years above and below us have supported and cared for each other. Even if you started law school like Corey and didn’t come here to make friends, it would be impossible to graduate without having formed the
type of intense friendships that will live on for years. It speaks highly of the
quality of our classmates that chance encounters
like bumping into someone in the basement lockers of (mumbles), being assigned to a
randomized SLS study group, or sitting next to someone
at your orientation table could be all it took to
introduce you to someone who would change your life. Now traditionally, the final
part of a commencement speech is supposed to contain
advice for the future. Carpe diem. Take the road less traveled. When one door closes,
go in through a window. It’s been said that a convocation speech is meant to be a dance
between youth and wisdom. At this point in my life I
have neither of those things. (laughing) So, I won’t presume to offer advice. Instead, I’d like to share my
hopes for the class of 2018 and for the legal profession. We’re entering the profession at a time when it’s grappling
with important questions about who serves and who is able to thrive within its membership. We have the opportunity
to shape the answers. The first question is
about the profession’s relationship to the public. We know that public trust in institutions like the legal system is low. We know that there’s an access to justice crisis in this country, and many vulnerable individuals are unable to assert their rights or receive equal protection of the law. I hope our class can enter this profession with an understanding
that access to justice is not the exclusive concern of lawyers who practice poverty law. We all can commit ourselves
to the project of justice and to serve its
advancement in our own way. The second question concerns
itself with the individuals who are able to become lawyers and the profession’s
willingness to accommodate them once they are here. The Trinity Western Case is one example of that is at stake with this issue. This year Hader Rodrigues
published an important and forceful reminder
that many black lawyers still force barriers of
access within our profession. She challenged us to reminder us that fit is not a neutral evaluation. Multiple groups are
coming forward and saying that the legal profession is not a place where they can thrive. This is not an easy problem to address, especially when there are seemingly conflicting interest at play. I know there’s more than one
vision of how the profession should adapt and accommodate its increasingly diverse membership. I don’t presume to know the right answer, but I do know that our
class has demonstrated how keen and invested we
are in our chosen careers. If we direct our considerable energies to these issues instead of agonizing over the precise
definition of the boonies. I have no doubt we’ll make a
difference in this profession. I’m reminded of a quote
from Judge Learned Hand, which by the way is
actually his real name, and not just an antiquated title, like I thought for most of law school. Judge Hand was speaking about the spirit which animates the best
aspects of the law. The spirit is one which is
not too sure that it’s right and so seeks to understand the
minds of other men and women and to weigh the interest of others alongside its own without bias. This spirit strives for a
community where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. While as lawyers it’s tempting
to always think we know best, this spirit is something I
hope we do our best to embody. At U of T Law we showed up on day one keen and ready to make our mark. We shaped the law school
culture in the best way that we knew how. For the future, I ask
only that we join together in that project once more. Thank you and good luck. (applauding) Thank you so much Katie. Okay. It is my pleasure to
announce several awards recognizing the top academic achievement in our graduating class. At this time I’ll ask our award recipients to join us on the stage and Dean Lacobucci will present the awards with
the help of Vannessa Sears our assistant registrar. (applauding) The Angus MacMurchy Gold
Medal and Gallant Ho Prize are awarded to the student
in the graduating year with the highest cumulative
average while at law school. This year we have a tie. And the gold medals go to Misha
Boutilier and Aaron Haight. (applauding) The W.P.M. Kennedy Silver
Medal is awarded to the student in the graduating class
with the second highest accumulative average while at law school. This years silver medal goes to Kerry Sun. (applauding) The James B. Milner Bronze
Medal is awarded to the student in the graduating class with
the third highest accumulative average while at law school. This year the bronze medal
goes to Stephanie Lewis. (applauding)
(cheering) The Gerald W. Schwartz
Gold Medals are awarded to the students in the graduating class achieving the highest
accumulative averages over four years in the
combined J.D., M.B.A. program. This years gold medal for
the student with the highest accumulative average in
the J.D., M.B.A. program is awarded to David Stiles. (applauding) The silver medal for the
student with the second highest accumulative average in
the J.D., M.B.A. program goes to Paras Patel. (applauding) This year’s bronze medal for the student with the third highest
accumulative average in the J.D., M.B.A program
is awarded to Ronald Saveris. (applauding) The Justice Michael J. Moldaver
Prize is awarded annually to the student standing first
in the third year class. This years Moldaver Prize
is awarded to Kerry Sun. (applauding) The Class of 1967 Prize
is awarded to the student standing second in the third year class. The prize for standing
second in third year goes to Stephanie Lewis. (applauding) The Class of 1967 Prize is also awarded to the student standing
third in the third year class and this year that’s
Chantelle Van Wiltenburg. (applauding) The Stephanie Fleur Couzin
Medal for Mooting is awarded to a student who has
demonstrated outstanding performance in the mooting program and a strong commitment as
both a participant and a coach. This year the medal for
Mooting goes to two students, Stephanie Lewis and Diane Schnier. (applauding) The Dean Cecil A Wright Key
is presented to the student who has displayed the greatest interest in extracurricular work
of an academic nature. This year’s Dean Key is
awarded to Misha Boutilier for his academic excellence
and significant contributions to the school, including
among many other things as a top mooter and editor
and chief of the law review. (applauding) Congratulations to our
academic award winners. (applauding)
(cheering) With that I am very pleased to
bring our program to a close. On behalf of the law school
I’d like to thank you all for joining us and to extend
one more warm congratulations to our fabulous graduates. (applauding)
(cheering) Thank you very much for sharing
this wonderful day with us.

Michael Martin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment