Dean Robert Leckey - photo by Nicolas Morin

Dear McGill Law alumni,

The COVID-19 pandemic has swiftly changed your life, as it has ours at your Faculty of Law. Shortly after we cancelled Skit Nite, all remaining coffeehouses, and gatherings in the Maxwell Cohen Moot Court, the premier of Quebec closed schools and universities for two weeks. It remains unclear when workers or students will return to campus.

Adapting the complex, internationally oriented operations of McGill and the Faculty of Law to a new reality involved many Zoom meetings and compressed versions of the extensive consultations that characterize decision-making in the university.

Instructors relied on a wide array of tools to complete their winter courses through remote teaching, helped by workshops we organized and colleagues’ good will. Our adjunct professors and sessional lecturers navigated this transition on top of their regular jobs, where they are also managing the fallout from the pandemic. With some hiccups, the experience was largely successful. Although they were anxious, students showed remarkable patience and understanding as their modes of learning shifted late in the term.

The exceptional circumstances in which students will finish their course work required a range of measures. We will offer all exams in a take-home format and offer two deferred periods for exams, available to students without the usual medical documentation. We are following McGill’s flexible approach to grading. After they get their marks in May, students may elect Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading for any of their winter-term courses. Robust, but respectful discussions among students and faculty highlighted the many factors at play, including equity, when adjusting grading in an emergency.

Je suis profondément impressionné par la créativité et l’esprit de corps dont ont fait preuve nos étudiantes et étudiants relativement à une telle adversité. Leurs élus ont travaillé de près avec l’administration afin de recueillir des informations essentielles et d’aider plus de 100 personnes à vider leurs casiers. Les élections pour l’année prochaine ont eu lieu, trois éditions numériques du Quid Novi ont vu le jour et les nombreux clubs ont mené à terme leurs activités.

Le travail de fond de la Faculté de droit se poursuit à distance. Le personnel du secrétariat aux affaires étudiantes et celui du centre de développement professionnel travaillent sans relâche pour continuer à servir la communauté étudiante. Nos équipes d’avancement universitaire et des communications s’efforcent de maintenir notre sentiment d’appartenance. J’ai présidé à deux réunions du Conseil facultaire par vidéoconférence, permettant aux collègues et aux élus du corps étudiant de partager quelques moments ensemble. Comme on vous relate ici, nos professeurs commencent déjà à cibler leur expertise sur la pandémie, notamment en décrochant des subventions de recherche et en publiant leurs analyses.

While life has changed for all of us, I want to acknowledge those who have experienced especially intense difficulties and loss. Students and staff have lost loved ones; I imagine many of you may have too. Many are experiencing financial hardship or juggling radically increased caregiving responsibilities. As I wrote recently to our professors, not everyone is able to “work from home” serenely and productively. Our graduating students will not enjoy the usual spring convocation ceremony under the big tent on lower campus.

We’re looking beyond the exigencies of winter 2020. In partial response to the needs of students whose summer jobs or internships have evaporated, we have more than doubled the number of spots in classes offered in May and June. We are finalizing next year’s incoming cohort of top students. We’re working to ensure that, whatever the circumstances, we keep delivering an education that inspires legal leadership for global challenges.

Comme j’ai récemment écrit à notre corps étudiant, je n’aurais jamais imaginé que l’année scolaire s’achèverait ainsi. Or, je suis reconnaissant envers lui, ainsi qu’à vous, notre communauté diplômée, pour tout ce que nous avons appris, expérimenté et réalisé ensemble. Et c’est ensemble que nous composerons avec les défis à venir.

Best wishes,

Signature: Robert


Looking to support McGill Law students?

Many students have lost summer positions due to the pandemic or have seen their articling placements cancelled or suspended.

If your organization is able to remotely hire a law student for a part-time or full-time summer job, internship, or articling placement, email McGill Law’s Career Development Office at