« Je sentais un réel appétit chez la communauté étudiante de voir le droit “dans son contexte”, au-delà des cas d’étude discutés en classe », confie la professeure Rosalie Jukier, organisatrice des semaines d’intégration en 2023-2024.

Pendant la première année du programme BCL/JD, chaque session commence par une semaine d’intégration, réservée à des activités intensives. Celle d’automne ─ la toute première semaine du programme BCL/JD ─ initie la cohorte entrante à des notions fondamentales du droit et des études juridiques.

« Maintenant que les étudiantes et étudiants avaient une session complète de cours de droit derrière eux, le moment semblait opportun pour élargir la perspective et leur montrer le droit en action » dit la professeure Jukier.

À l’horaire :  ateliers de négociation et de médiation. Conférence de l’honorable juge Malcolm Rowe de la Cour suprême. Panel sur le travail avec les clientèles en contexte vulnérable, suivi d’ateliers en petits groupes et de visites de terrain avec des organismes communautaires.

« La réponse de la communauté étudiante a surpassé toutes nos attentes, particulièrement pour les visites de terrain » conclut la professeure Jukier. « J’ai été très impressionnée par l’investissement de nos partenaires qui, en plus de concevoir un programme de visites et de présentations, ont sollicité de la rétroaction des participantes et participants pour améliorer la prochaine édition. »


A lesson in effective advocacy

On 8 January, Justice Rowe offered a captivating lecture on the theme of effective written advocacy to the first-year cohort, in preparation for their upcoming integration workshop assignment. Drawing from more than two decades as an appellate judge, Justice Rowe shared invaluable insights on persuasive advocacy, and graciously devoted half the session to student questions on any topic.

“[It is] always incredible to have the opportunity to hear from someone who we look up to to such an extent, but what really brought it over the top for me was Justice Rowe’s willingness and invitation to interact with us and essentially allow us to steer the conversation according to our specific curiosities,” one law student shared in the feedback survey.


Learning from seasoned practitioners

Building on programming developed in 2023 with the McGill School of Social Work, Integration Week offered law students an immersion in working with clients in vulnerable contexts. The Faculty welcomed seasoned experts Nicholas Dodd, BCL/LLB’09, of Dionne-Schulze, Ann Soden, BCL’81, LLB’82, of the Elder Law Clinic, Rick Goldman, BCL’85, LLB’86, Immigration and Refugee Attorney, Jonathan Gottlieb of Kugler Kandestin, and Nadine Marchi of Marchi, Bellemaire, for an open discussion about their practice.

“I enjoyed listening to their recollections and it was helpful to see how the trauma-informed lawyering material is actually put to use in practice,” one student shared.

“It was informative not only in the sense of learning how lawyers engage with traumatized clients and secondary trauma from the material they deal with daily, but also seeing such a huge variety of practices and roles that can be achieved with a law degree,” another added.

In the afternoon, students broke into small groups to work on case scenarios.

To wrap up the week, site visits and meetings with community organizations allowed students to see these skills in action. This turned out to be the highlight of the week for many.

“The best thing we did all week. I LOVED my experience. I wish we had more opportunities to see work environments that aren’t big law. This was the first time I felt like I was engaging in a field that interested me,” one student raved.

Montreal City Mission, la Ligne d’aide d’abus aîné, Old Brewery Mission, Project Genesis, First Peoples Justice Centre of Montreal and Chez Doris hosted on-site tours with students, and the Desta Black Youth Network and the John Howard Society came to McGill to offer thought-provoking presentations on their area of engagement. “Cela a été une belle opportunité d’observer les conditions de travail sur le terrain et de constater les défis et les opportunités pour les avocats qui œuvrent dans le domaine,” one student highlighted.

“A lot of the elements we had learned about vulnerable people were concretized,” another law student concluded.


Photo credit: Owen Egan and Joni Dufour