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Moran moves on, but keeps legacy in sight

U of T law dean reflects on personal accomplishments, future of law
|Written By Zachary Pedersen
Moran moves on, but keeps legacy in sight
Outgoing dean Mayo Moran says she’ll be keeping the law school close to hear heart.

Mayo Moran has served as dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto since 2006. She’s set to officially move on in July, but says she’ll keep U of T Law close to her heart — figuratively and literally.

Moran’s new post as provost of Trinity College comes with on-campus housing, and is located adjacent to the Faculty of Law, which is currently undergoing a renovation.

“The construction is right next to the lodge that I’m going to live in, so I’m going to be hearing it day and night,” she says. “It’s actually kind of funny.”

The faculty’s overhaul is one of the projects Moran is most proud to have initiated during her time as dean. It is slated to be completed in the 2015/2016 academic year.

“I felt I needed to renew the physical facilities of the law school because I knew we had had a few external reviews that said this is really going to hamper the school,” she says. “For the first five or six years I was dean, our students identified the physical facilities as by far their most pressing concern — far above tuition, far above financial aid, far above the quality of the program.”

Moran was worried a massive construction project would be disruptive to student life, but she was fortunate to be able to temporarily relocate classes nearby.

“It’s one thing for faculty and staff, but students are only in the school for three years, so you can’t say, ‘Don’t worry, it’s short-term pain for long-term gain,’” she says. “Students are very supportive of the building, but at the same time the ones that are living through the construction aren’t going to be the ultimate recipients in the same way.”

Moran also helped to create the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, which was made possible by the first donation — at $7.5 million — she was able to secure for the faculty. The centre aims to unite constitutional law research, policy, advocacy, and teaching in one location.

“[Students] go to the Supreme Court of Canada, they help draft the argument — it’s very, very exciting,” she says.

Moran also helped to create other programs, including the Internationally Trained Lawyers Program, the Centre for the Legal Profession, and a new masters program called the Global Professional Masters in Law.

“I’m very excited, but I’m also very sad to leave the law school. . . . Any leader only accomplishes things with the incredible dedication, support, and work of others,” she says. “So, I never feel that it’s just ‘The Mayo Show,’ right? I have fantastic staff, an incredible faculty and colleagues, and I’ve worked with a ton with of students, so I think by working together the place is in wonderful shape.”

Moran believes the future of legal education is taking a new shape.

“A lot of law schools have seen their applications decline. We have not, which I think is kind of incredible, but we watch them more than we used to, that’s for sure,” she says. “That is going to be something that I think every law school is going to be keeping an eye on.”

Technology will continue to evolve how law is practised, she says, noting she’s personally seen legal advice being outsourced in the U.K.

“I do think that there will be gradual shifts that will force everyone in every area — in law, in education,” she says. “Technology is a great enabler in many ways, but it also creates many challenges with the quality of the experience, the sense of interaction, and community.”

Moran’s future, though, will continue to include legal education.

“Trinity has a program called the ethics, society and law program and I’m looking forward to being able to bring some additional bench strength to the legal side of that,” she says. “I’m going to be teaching a fourth-year course . . . called 10 cases that changed the world. I’m actually about to poll my law school community about [what they] think the cases are. Who has a community like that like I do to be able to ask that question?”

As Trinity College provost, Moran will oversee the direction of the college, which includes relationship building, fundraising, and strategic planning. Her term begins on July 1. Trinity College is one of three colleges affiliated within the university. It includes an undergraduate program, as well as a postgraduate divinity school that is part of the Toronto School of Theology.

The law school has already announced an interim dean who will take over for Moran. Jutta Brunnée, a professor at the Metcalf Chair in Environmental Law, started the position on April 29.

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