The Advisory: Volume 9, Issue 3, December 2011

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New Law Dean Shares Vision for University of Calgary Program

By Derek Sankey

When Dr. Ian Holloway decided to take on his new role as the Dean of Law at the University of Calgary, his vision was to help the Canadian legal profession become more “outward-looking” than it is used to being.

After serving as the associate dean at the Australian National University and a visiting professor of law at the National University of Singapore, Holloway spent more than a decade as the dean of law at the University of Western Ontario. He brings a global perspective that should help broaden the scope of discussion around a multitude of legal issues.

“Australian lawyers in particular have been able to secure a place in the global market for legal services,” says Holloway. “I see no reason why Canadian lawyers can’t – and shouldn’t – be able to do the same.” He wants to see the legal community embrace a culture of innovation and professional entrepreneurship and views his role as playing a part in helping to shape the professional culture of lawyers’ futures.

Holloway’s philosophy about his role at the U of C Faculty of Law mirrors what Gandhi once wrote – that we should live as if every day might be our last, but that we should learn as if we will live forever. “If we look at the best lawyers who we all look up to as the exemplars of our craft at its finest, we’d see that what links them all … is a deeply-rooted sense of curiousity,” he says. “To put it another way, they are all people who never stopped trying to become better lawyers.”

Holloway earned his first law degree in 1985 from Dalhousie, his master’s degree from the University of California at Berkley and his PhD from the Australian National University in 1999. He also completed the Advanced Executive Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Leadership 21 Program at the John. F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Last year, the U of C adopted a new strategic plan entitled: “Energy. Skills. Excellence.” In it, the faculty set itself two broad goals: to enhance its international eminence in the area of energy, environment and natural resource law, and to develop a lawyering skills program that becomes the benchmark for other Canadian law schools. “I view my job description as being to put flesh on those bones,” Holloway says. “I want to become as immersed as I can be in the life of the community.”

He seeks to bridge the gap between the academy and the bar. It is the rule of law that makes Canada one of the most desirable countries in the world in which to live, yet the rule of law can’t sustain itself if it is imposed from above, he says. “It can only survive if there is buyin from ordinary people. That’s where access to justice comes in. If the rule of law is not ‘real’ to regular Canadians, then we’re finished,” says Holloway.

Diversity is another area where progress can be made by working with First Nations communities, for example, to get more Aboriginal people going to law school. A lack of practical access to legal education affects many different segments of Canadian society, but in his view it’s not so much a consequence of tuition levels as it is of attitudes that begin to take shape at a young age when horizons begin to shorten.

With respect to what he brings to the board table with his involvement with the Benchers at the Law Society of Alberta over the next few years, Holloway’s time over several years spent in private legal practice prior to going to graduate school means he continues to see himself as a lawyer first and foremost.

“To the extent that I can use that dual identity – lawyer and academic – to contribute to discussions, I hope to do so,” he says. “I think that living and working outside of Canada for a decade or so has helped make me a much better Canadian lawyer.”

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