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Building New Legal Research Traditions: The Halifax Environmental Law Research-a-Thon

Friday, February 2, 2018

ECELAW partnered with the Marine and Environmental Law Program and the Environmental Law Students’ Society at the Schulich School of Law to host an Environmental Law Research-a-Thon at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.

Inspired by a similar event being held at the University of Victoria, Schulich law professor Sara Seck and ECELAW’s Lisa Mitchell worked with local law students and the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) Wilderness Team to develop legal questions to shape the day.

Gathered together around a large table in the room that EAC staff call their “EcoDanceHall,” law students, law professors, a Schulich Fellow, and ECELAW’s articled clerk worked side-by-side throughout the morning and early afternoon to determine whether and how Canadian and international jurisdictions beyond Nova Scotia regulate clear-cutting in their forests.

With the goal of discovering whether proposed clear-cutting restrictions in Nova Scotia have parallels in other Canadian and international jurisdictions, participants divvied up the map and dove online to find relevant law and policy, surfacing periodically to pose questions, share insights, and crack jokes about the difficulty of finding clear answers and straightforward language in the law. After a few hours of concentrated research, participants put together dozens of pages of information that were later compiled and given to the EAC.

Time-limited team processes like this one may not provide all of the answers at the end of the day, but they offer exceptional opportunities for collaboration and community-building. For the law students who participated in the event, a break away from the theoretical learning of the classroom and a chance to provide practical benefits to community organizations like ECELAW and the EAC were attractive reasons to roll up their sleeves and take part.

As the Government of Nova Scotia awaits the results of William Lahey’s independent review of forestry practices in this province, ECELAW and its student volunteers are proud to have taken part in a collaborative legal research event that we hope will become a tradition for years to come.

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