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York opens new centre for business and law

|Written By Jeffrey H. Waugh

Osgoode Hall Law School, in partnership with the Schulich School of Business at York University, has launched a new centre to promote joint business and law scholarship, education, and outreach in Canada.

The Jay and Barbara Hennick Centre for Business and Law was officially announced on Friday at the Osgoode and Schulich LLB/MBA Students' Association annual conference, following the keynote speech by federal finance minister Jim Flaherty.

“This is the first Canadian centre to promote and develop joint business and law scholarship and education,” said Flaherty. “It is a reality thanks to the generous $3-million donation by Jay and Barbara Hennick, backed up by the combined efforts of the Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business."

“Here Canadians will have the opportunity to pursue an expanded LLB/MBA program,” said Flaherty. “I understand there are also plans in the works for academic programs that combine business and law training, and a new business certificate for practising professionals.”

Jay Hennick has managed to successfully combine the two fields, having spent 13 years practising law before moving into the business world.

Hennick is the founder and CEO of one of North America’s largest globally diversified real estate service companies, FirstService Corp., which operates in 36 countries with more than 17,000 employees. He graduated with his LLB in 1981 from the University of Ottawa, after which he practised corporate law with Fogler Rubinoff LLP. He founded FirstService Corp. in 1989.

 “The experience of moving successfully from one discipline to another really gave me the unique understanding of the power and the importance of integrating the education of law and business together,” he said.

“It’s my belief that by bringing together the scholars, the students, and the practitioners from both of these disciplines, we will create a new and higher level of insight and knowledge that will significantly benefit the practise of each.”

Mamdouh Shoukri, president of York University, noted the way the world does business and the foundations of the global economy are changing, and the way students and future business leaders are educated must change too.

“Globalization, stiffer regulations, and a growing focus on governance and accountability means that today’s lawyers and business leaders must have the ability to better navigate the intersection between business and law with understanding and with confidence, and the Hennick Centre will help them to do just that,” he said.

Hennick said he also believes the integration will help to create a number of new job opportunities, especially for lawyers.

“Business people must have the complete picture, beginning with a solid grounding in law, to be competitive on a world scale. Lawyers must really appreciate basic business principles if they hope to advise their clients, particularly in business-related matters,” he said.

“And academics must bring the perspectives of both of these to the table when educating their students.”

The centre will have a number of goals and initiatives aimed at increasing the scholarship of business and law.

“One purpose of the program will be to increase the profile and the attractiveness of a joint degree in business and law, through enhanced scholarships and other programs that will encourage our youth to pursue a joint education,” said Hennick.

The centre will also be offering a new certificate program for business and law, designed for practitioners, “to help them gain a better education in business — effectively an executive MBA for practising lawyers,” said Hennick.

A new investment protection seminar has also been established to arm participants with a better understanding of rights and remedies for investors.

This is not Hennick’s first experience with enhancing legal scholarship in Canada; he also founded the Jay Hennick LLB/MBA program offered by the University of Ottawa Law School and the Telfer School of Management.

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