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  • Avant Garde



Lincoln Alexander School of Law - Student Newspaper


What's Inside This Issue:

Message from the Editors-in-Chief

A new chapter begins! A new law school, a new mindset, a new precedent. The inaugural editors of 2021 present to you the first edition of Avant Garde. This newspaper is created with the desire to foster the four pillars at Ryerson University, Faculty of Law (Ryerson Law).

With each day passing, the inaugural cohort continues to find innovative ways to uphold the values at Ryerson Law and demonstrate to Ontarians the limitless opportunities that Ryerson Law presents. This year, the pandemic has led to various unexpected challenges, yet we at Ryerson Law we have developed the resilience, compassion, and grit to overcome the unprecedented challenges as a team. Together, we will be making history, becoming the lawyers of tomorrow, and voicing our opinions on the evolving challenges in the Canadian legal economy, through this newspaper.

As the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, I would like to thank the entire team who made this newspaper into a reality. I encourage future writers to use this newspaper as a platform to question the status quo, promote conversations of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and voice their visions of making radical change to eventually ignite a positive difference in the legal system.

It’s time to set a new precedent.

~ Khushi Dave Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to the first edition of Avant Garde. This project has been months in the making; and as Editor-in-Chief, I am very thankful for the support we have gotten from the faculty and our colleagues. Further, we could not be happier with the members of our editorial team who have taken on these roles to represent Ryerson’s pillars and shed light onto current issues in the legal world.

As the first cohort at Ryerson’s Faculty of Law, each one of us is writing a story in history. The Faculty, RLSS and students have been building a strong foundation for our law school. The faculty has created an innovative curriculum and is setting up programs, such as the PODs, to give us the opportunity to get clinic legal experience and give back to our community. Moreover, with the help of RLSS, many cultural, academic and social justice clubs have been found to represent our diversity, raise awareness of social issues and advance our knowledge on niche industries. Most importantly, students have taken the initiative to set up groups that work towards increasing access to justice. As such, the events and projects that have been organized thus far truly show that Ryerson’s law school breeds leaders.

The newspaper team cannot wait to report on the successes each person, club, association, committee and POD are going to make over the next few years. This edition of Avant Garde is only the beginning. Ryerson’s Faculty of Law has more history to make.

We look forward to writing about it.

~ Mira (Mirnalni) Setia, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief


Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

Negotiations Night with the LEC

By: Dena Papaioannou

On Wednesday February 10th, 2021, the Legal Entrepreneurs Club (LEC) at Ryerson held their first ever “Negotiations Night”, and it was a huge success. There was a total of fourteen students present, making for seven concurrent negotiations. LEC set up this event as an opportunity for students to brush up on their soft skills following first semester’s tutorial negotiations.

Upon arriving at the event, the LEC did a brief introduction and broke the students up into their respective groups. In each of the breakout rooms there was a member from Team A and Team B. The students on Team A were representing Dr. Roland, a biological warfare researcher; and those on Team B were representing Dr. Jones, a biological research scientist.

Both teams were seeking a stock of rare Ugli oranges for their respective clients. The groups had thirty minutes to negotiate and were asked to reach a settlement.

Following the thirty minutes, the groups were brought back into the main room and asked to share the strategies they used in coming to their outcome. Every group had a different strategy, but each was able to come to a final agreement.

For some teams, this took the full thirty minutes, but for others it took half the time. The secret of the fact pattern was that each of the teams was looking to acquire a different component of the stock of Ugli oranges for their client. It was interesting to see that some of the groups were able to reach their conclusion sooner by sharing this key fact with their negotiating partners and unlocking the secret. The groups that withheld information were not in for the same easy ride.

The negotiations night was a low-stakes and fun way to practice negotiation skills while allowing students to interact with individuals outside of their sections. Anyone looking to further foster their entrepreneurial skills should keep up to date with the LEC.

In short, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze.


Ready, Set, Tech!

A L&TS Overview with President Nicholas Hill

By: Dena Papaioannou

In the few short months since school started, the Law and Technology Society (L&TS) has begun the process of connecting Ryerson Law students with the networks and tools necessary to be successful at the ever-evolving intersection of law and technology. Since its inception, L&TS has brought the inaugural cohort together for a Trivia Night and an Innovator’s Networking Session with some of Toronto’s Bay Street lawyers that work within the tech sector.

In our interview with Nicholas Hill, the President of L&TS, we learned that his vision is to be able to encourage students to further expand their technological literacy in alignment with Ryerson’s four pillars. To begin to achieve this goal outside of Ryerson Law’s walls, the club has partnered with Mitacs, a non-profit national research organization which operates in the realm of social and industrial innovation. This partnership offers a summer student grant opportunity to those interested in working within the field of Intellectual Property or Business Strategy. This opportunity is also open to students working outside of law firms if they are supporting the business in their capacity as a law student.

Following discussions with Harvard’s L&TS, Hill felt inspired by some of the ideas and initiatives that the American school had run. Following only two years of operation, the student-run club at Harvard advocated to administration and persuaded them to run Law 2.0, a class which explores the impact of tech on the field of law and focuses on solving community legal issues with their technological innovations. Hill is hopeful that regardless of the path it takes, the club at Ryerson will have a similar ability to make an impact on individuals inside its community.

Although Hill cannot predict exactly what the future of L&TS will look like, he notes that the ambition and diverse backgrounds of the executive team will be drivers of some impressive experiences at the intersection of law and tech for current and incoming Ryerson Law students.


Anti-Black Racism in 2021: R v Morris

By: Bryn Copp

At this pivotal moment in history, systemic racism has made its way into the collective consciousness. A legal conversation is long overdue. The month of February celebrates Black History and approaches one year since the murder of George Floyd. On February 11, 2021, the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) heard the Crown’s appeal to Justice Nakatsuru’s decision in R v Morris, 2018 ONSC 5186 (“Morris”). Morris is a potentially precedent-setting case that considers the function of anti-Black racism in sentencing. The Zoom hearing saw numerous interveners and drew in hundreds of viewers to watch the law develop in real-time. Counsel for the Respondent and friend of The Ryerson Faculty of Law, Faisal Mirza, delivered what is being referred to as a “Master Class” on advocacy. Mr. Mirza featured in the 1L intensive last semester when he discussed anti-Black racism and police brutality.

The appeal of Morris by the Crown examines how the Court should consider systemic and social factors when sentencing a Black individual. The Crown asked for a 4-year sentence and believes that the sentencing judge erred in their treatment of social context evidence of racism. In 2018, Ontario Superior Court Justice Nakatsuru sentenced Mr. Morris to 12-months jail time, a reduction from 15-months after consideration of Charter breaches. The primary reasons for lighter sentencing by Justice Nakatsuru were Mr. Morris’ background and the impact of anti-Black racism on his life, informed by evidence from leading experts on anti-Black racism in Canada. The case before the ONCA analyzes the line of reasoning used by Justice Nakatsuru and the larger implications of systemic racism on sentencing in Ontario.

The Zoom-style hearing was more accessible to a wider variety of audiences than it would have been in traditional court. Though the hearing was not without hiccups, as participants quickly discovered a 500-person limit on the Zoom call, Morris exemplifies a moderate improvement in access to justice. The current pandemic has undoubtedly brought many challenges and emphasized the need for innovation in the law; and the use of communications technology in this case highlights such innovation. While a short intermission was taken to rectify viewer limitations, the case’s online viewing continued to be a challenge throughout the day. Nonetheless, the virtual hearing shared with viewers the voices of many intervenors speaking on racism in Canadian Courts. Fourteen civil society groups intervened in the appeal. The intervenors list includes: the Black Legal Action Centre and Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, Criminal Lawyers’ Association and The Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Faisal Mirza is a strong defender of anti-Black racism and police brutality. Compelling in his advocacy, Mr Mirza responded to the Crown’s opening statements by saying, “The Crown is prepared to acknowledge that systemic racism is a problem in Canada, and to acknowledge systemic bias. But I submit that this is insufficient.” Civil rights lawyer, Frances Mahon, tweeted “Faisal Mirza is giving us a masterclass in appellate advocacy. If you are not watching, stop what you are doing and tune in.”


A Traveler's Path to Criminal Law

By: Ivy Lok

Special thank you to Imran Shaikh!

One inevitable feature that comes with being in the Ryerson Faculty of Law's inaugural class is that we lack alumni to regale us with their personal obstacles and success stories – or do we? In this month's Special Features, I spoke with Imran Shaikh, which some of you will know as your criminal law practitioner. As a Ryerson graduate from the department of criminology, we talk about his journey from learning law to now teaching it.

Have you always had the expectation of becoming a lawyer?

The word 'expectation' in this question stood out to me, because no, I never expected to become a lawyer. Becoming a lawyer is a goal that you put a lot of hard work towards, and I was very determined in getting there. I worked hard, learned a lot during my journey, and was also very fortunate to have the opportunity to get to where I am now. Becoming a lawyer was more of a goal that I focused on, rather than an expectation of mine. With that being said, I always knew I wanted to advocate in the courtroom. Oral advoca