Gail Cohen named to Osgoode Hall Law Journalist in Residence position

The former editor-in-chief of Canadian Lawyer magazine, InHouse magazine and Law Times has been named one of two journalists appointed to Osgoode Hall Law School’s inaugural Journalist in Residence Program for the fall of 2017.

Gail J. Cohen and Roxana Olivera, a Canadian investigative journalist of Peruvian heritage, will each spend time during the 2017-18 academic year pursuing journalistic projects that will engage the Osgoode community, involve law students and “enrich our understanding of law and its impact,” according to a statement from the law school.

“We received stellar applications from talented journalists for these two positions,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin in a press release today. “We’re delighted that Gail Cohen and Roxana Olivera will be joining us to explore stories about justice and the impact of law in our society and in our world.”

Osgoode announced in February that it was seeking applications for the position.

The Journalist in Residence will receive a stipend of up to $25,000 for a term or part of a term (or on a more part-time basis spread over an academic year) (plus approximately $5,000 in disbursements), in addition to an office and full access to the academic resources and intellectual community at Osgoode. While the Journalist in Residence may hold other positions, the Journalist in Residence will be expected to spend a significant portion of his/her period of residence at Osgoode.

The program is designed to encourage journalistic projects focused on interpreting legal history, examining law’s realities today and imagining law’s future. The Journalist in Residence Program is funded in part from Osgoode's Fund for Innovation in Law & Media, made possible by a gift from alumna Kathryn Podrebarac, and the Art Vertlieb Q.C. Fund. Both funds are dedicated to exploring the intersection of law, media and journalism.

Cohen was editor-in-chief of Canadian Lawyer, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, Law Times, Canadian Lawyer InHouse and Legal Feeds blog from 2006 to 2016 as well as from 2012 to 2016. She is currently a media and communications consultant working with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as its director, media and communications.

Among the projects she plans to pursue while at Osgoode, Cohen will examine the impact of landmark rights and equality cases involving the LGBTQ community from the litigant’s perspective as well as on the legal landscape in Canada.

“I'm looking forward to having the time and resources to focus on a project that I am passionate about as well as being able to take my years of experience running the largest group of legal periodicals in Canada to help amplify to the public the great work happening at Osgoode,” Cohen said.

She also looks forward to working with students, staff and faculty on the role media can play in legal advocacy.

Cohen has received a number of awards over the past 20 years, including a Canadian Association of Journalists/Canadian International Development Agency fellowship in 2003 to cover the International War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda.

Olivera’s passion for the rule of law, human rights and social justice informs her work, which has been published in English, Spanish and German. At Osgoode, she will be working on a project that will explore the boundaries of the law concerning child abuse and exploitation and the proliferation of offending material online in the digital age.

“This appointment is for me a great opportunity to work alongside internationally renowned scholars on a project that aims to stir debate about change in national and global legislation regarding online child exploitation and how to better support and protect survivors,” Olivera said.

Olivera’s reporting has appeared in digital, broadcast and print media. Her radio documentary, The Good Italian?, which she produced with Steve Wadhams, won a bronze medal at the New York Festival’s International Radio Program Awards for the World’s Best Radio Programs in 2014. Her feature, Standing Up to Big Gold, which was published in the United Church Observer, received an award of excellence from the Associated Church Press in Chicago in 2014.

More recently, Olivera formed part of the investigative team of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that carried out an investigation — Evicted and Abandoned: The World Bank’s Broken Promise to the Poor — which received several awards, including the prestigious Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award.

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