Une breve histoire de la Revue de droit d'Ottawa/A Brief History of the Ottawa Law Review.

AuthorOliver, Peter C.
PositionSpecial Issue: The Challenge of Meeting Change in Legal Education

TABLE DES MATIERES | CONTENTS I. Les origines 33 II. Volume 1 and the Original Aims and Objectives 35 III. The First Decade 39 IV. L'apparition graduelle du bilinguisme au sein de la Revue de droit d'Ottawa | Ottawa Law Review 41 V. 40th Anniversary Celebrations and the Role of Student Editors 47 VI. Des developpements plus recents 49 VII. Conclusion 51 I. LES ORIGINES

Qu'est-ce qui explique la creation de la Revue de droit d'Ottawa (1) [ci-apres >] en 1966 ? S'agissait-il de la contribution de la Faculte de droit de l'Universite d'Ottawa a la premiere vague de celebrations du centenaire du Canada, ou d'une facon de marquer la premiere decennie d'existence de la Section de common law de la Faculte de droit (2); ou encore s'agissait-il plutot d'une facon de rivaliser avec ses voisins (3), puisque neuf Facultes avaient deja fonde des revues de droit (4) et que cinq autres etaient en voie de faire de meme (5) ? En fait, tout porte a croire que les origines de la RDO remontent a une suite de circonstances a la fois ordinaires et inspirantes: l'approbation du doyen, Thomas G. Feeney Q.C., en ce qui concerne les ambitieuses aspirations pedagogiques d'un de ces jeunes professeurs, le professeur Emilio S. Binavince.

Le professeur Binavince a ete nomme professeur adjoint a l'Universite d'Ottawa en 1965, apres avoir suivi la majorite de ses etudes juridiques aux Etats-Unis (6). On ne l'avait pas charge de creer une revue de droit, mais plutot de donner des cours en droit comparatif, en droit international et en recherche et ecriture juridiques. C'est en lien avec cette derniere discipline que la possibilite de creer la RDO est apparue. La formation juridique americaine du professeur Binavince l'a influence a conclure qu'une publication juridique universitaire serait un > [notre traduction] (7). Il etait tellement convaincu de la valeur qu'ajoutent les revues de droit a une formation juridique, qu'il cita a deux reprises l'article de Howard Westwood au titre provocateur: > (8).

Les recherches preliminaires du professeur Binavince en preparation pour le cours en ecriture juridique qu'il allait donner l'ont mene a conclure que ce sujet etait serieusement sous-developpe dans les facultes de droit au Canada, l'ecriture juridique ayant ete traditionnellement consideree comme > [notre traduction] (9). Il a deplore le fait que les tribunaux canadiens consultaient rarement les textes juridiques universitaires et les adoptaient encore moins que les tribunaux americains (10).

Professeur Binavince se rappelle que ses collegues avaient initialement demontre peu d'enthousiasme, ou du moins ils avaient peu confiance en son idee de creer une revue de droit >, qui servirait d'outil educatif pour les etudiants et les etudiantes. Ces collegues voyaient en une publication juridique redigee et publiee par des > [notre traduction], tel le University of Toronto Law Journal, comme le seul moyen qui garantirait de l'encouragement de la part de la Faculte et le succes de la revue de droit (11).

En fin de compte, la vision du professeur Binavince a prevalu malgre les inquietudes de ses collegues et ce, qu'on se le dise, grace a l'appui de son doyen. L'accent mis par le professeur Binavince sur la recherche juridique et la redaction juridique et le soutien du doyen Feeney est apparent dans le > (12) et le > (13) du volume 1, ainsi que dans les editoriaux suivants du professeur Binavince.


    It was in keeping with Professor Binavince's primary focus on legal writing that the "Editor's Page" for the first-ever volume of the Ottawa Law Review (OLR) began, not with a staked claim regarding the new publication's importance to the Canadian legal community, but with that most prosaic of legal writing subject matters: legal citation. The first sentence read: "The style of citation adopted by the board is substantially based on the Uniform System of Citation, amended in some places to suit our needs." (14) The first paragraph then elaborated on citation nuances, in particular the need to adapt the Uniform System of Citation set out in Harvard University's The Bluebook-.A Uniform System of Citation to Canadian needs.

    If the first readers of the OLR felt somewhat intellectually undernourished by this opening statement of intention, the balance of the "Editor's Page" provided more sustenance. The first volume was divided into five sections: Articles, Recent Developments in Canadian Law, Comment, Notes, and Book Reviews. The first, third, fourth, and fifth of these were self-explanatory. Regarding the second, Recent Developments, Professor Binavince explained that it was offered as "a service...to busy practitioners and judges." The original intention was to feature annually two or so areas of law, with the expectation that key areas of law would reappear on roughly a four-year cycle. In keeping with the intention to serve the legal public, the Editor encouraged reader suggestions regarding areas that might be deserving of attention.

    Another feature of the Recent Developments section was that each of the contributions was co-authored by the Editor, Professor Binavince, and one of the student editors. (15) This was effectively a compromise between the Canadian law journal tendency to include little or no student writing and the American tendency to feature students as sole authors. Student editors also contributed sole-authored case comments to the Notes section. (16) These comments were a product of the legal writing course, in which Professor Binavince played such a leading teaching and supervisory role.

    The third and final paragraph of the "Editor's Page" returned to the theme of the legal research writing skills acquired through law review experience, concluding: "We hope that with the establishment of the Review, law students, practitioners, judges and scholars will recognize that a student who has served on the board has learned skills and techniques of disciplined research and writing that may determine success in any branch of the legal profession." (17)

    It is fairly easy to detect here a plea not just for the value and relevance of law reviews but for the vital place of university-based legal education. That theme was picked up in the opening sentences of Thomas G. Feeney's "Dean's Foreword" to volume 1 of the OLR:

    The increasing importance of universities is witnessed not only by widespread expansion of facilities for higher education but also by greater recognition of the role of universities in actively shaping society. Rather than the mere hope of being heard, there is now the reasonable expectation of being heeded. Law schools by developing the opportunities afforded to them by their special attributes can make meaningful contributions to the important role of universities as active participants in directing the course of society. (18) Dean Feeney's vision of the "meaningful contribution" of universities and law schools informed his understanding of the significance of a new law review. As noted earlier, it was not to be understood as a desperate attempt to "keep up" with other law schools who had already set up law reviews; instead, it was worth doing because "a law review is well within the grasp of the opportunities afforded a university law school to contribute to the betterment of society." (19) In Dean Feeney's estimation, "[a] good law review participates in a practical way in the work of the legal profession and the courts at every level of social control by law." (20) Bringing together the key themes developed by Professor Binavince and himself, Dean Feeney summarized the aims of the new publication in the eyes of the law school administration: "The Review was established, then, to serve a two-fold purpose: as an instrument of education through student participation in its preparation, and as a means of contributing directly to the work of the legal community in its constant search for a fair and workable legal system." (21)

    The emphasis thus far has been on the Editor and the Dean. What of the students who were at once the working core and the main beneficiaries of the law review experience?

    As noted above, Professor Binavince had been assigned the task of teaching a legal research and writing seminar, offered in the second and third years of the LL.B. degree. (22) A certain amount of self-selection seems to have occurred, in that Professor Binavince describes how (by good fortune, as he saw it) "the best, hard working and high achieving students" enrolled in the course. (23) The student editors were selected from amongst these students. (24) Professor Binavince subsequently described these individuals as "the true heroes and 'Founding Fathers' of the Ottawa Law Review." (25) On his count, the student editors and Legal Research and Writing Seminar participants contributed 105 of the 253 published pages of volume 1. (26) This was no small achievement and one that deserved to be underlined.

    The remaining 148 published pages contained contributions by law professors from the University of Ottawa and beyond. According to Dean Feeney in his Foreword, such contributions transcended the aim of teaching legal research and writing. As he saw matters, there existed "a very large field of unsettled problems yet to be touched" and which required "the breadth of view and attention to sound legal theory and social values necessary for the acceptable solution of all legal problems." (27) Ignoring or at least accepting the risk of offending practising lawyers, he pursued the point further:

    [T]here is always a danger that busy practitioners may be misled by facile solution through new legislation or novel decision. Law school scholarship, expressed in a law journal, and going beyond the point of classroom analysis, can by clear and systemic presentation not only disentangle apparently settled law, but also greatly help in finding "true" solutions to unsettled problems. The inclusion of faculty...

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