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Faculty of Law moves forward with plans for the future of the Desautels Centre

Advisory Committee launches initiatives to grow private enterprise and the law research & learning opportunities

August 27, 2021 — 

Exciting news is on the horizon at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law for students and scholars of private enterprise law. The Faculty of Law is home to the Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law, the focus of which is to develop a multi-faceted and clinical approach to understanding private businesses, with law and business being the two pillars of the practice and area of study.

Fostering Clinics and Aiding Research

The Desautels Center will stimulate and foster clinical work for law students and research in private enterprise and the law by legal and business scholars. Dean of Law, Dr. Richard Jochelson has announced that the newly-created Desautels Centre Advisory Committee (led by Associate Dean (Academic) Dr. Virginia Torrie) will be instrumental in developing the immediate intellectual and academic infrastructure of the Centres’ future endeavours. 

Over the next several months, the Centre will begin to unfurl a critical list of goals and projects, to help foster training for law students interested in family-owned business and start-up business clinical practice, and to make these pursuits a cornerstone of the UM Faculty of Law experience. Plans include the development of a business clinic as a critical experiential training ground for future lawyers, the development of mooting and debating opportunities, and new course development under the auspices of the Centre.

Future steps include the development of an innovation hub to house the clinical activities of the Centre, as well as the recruitment of a permanent Faculty position to provide stewardship over the clinical and academic side of the Centre. “The Centre seeks to develop synergies between law and private enterprise to give future lawyers and their clients a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing privately-held businesses,” Torrie noted.

The Centre has also issued a call for applications for a new seed fund, which like each of the initiatives of the Centre, is funded by a generous endowment established in 2003 by alumnus Marcel A. Desautels [BA/1955; LLB/1959; LLM/1965; LLD/1999]. Successful applicants will have funds in place for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

Increasing impact for the Desautels Centre

“The Committee is in the process of developing a website and social media presence that will share news of the work it is doing this year,” said Jochelson. “So far, the work includes developing a Desautels open access journal for law and business, which will seek interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary contributions.”

Further, Jochelson explained, an online business case blog will be created where business and law students can discuss case studies or recent developments in this area of law. Finally, a private enterprise consolidated cases reporter will be set up as a tool to assist laypersons as well as the professional legal practicing community.

Supporting and Building Community

Connections and advancements already underway by the Committee are manifold, including sponsoring four delegates from the law or business student body to attend the upcoming Conflict Resolution Day Conference taking place October 20, 2021 online. The Desautels Centre is also supporting another online conference this fall – the 5th Annual Commercial Law Symposium, which is being co-organized with Dr. Anna Lund (Faculty of Law, University of Alberta).

The Centre will be connecting with the Canadian Business History Association to support early-career researchers working on private enterprise and law. A collaboration with the Banking and Finance Law Review will involve the Centre hosting a Desautels Centre Fintech student writing competition.  Each of these will help develop a constellation of private enterprise links nationally.

A Desautels Lecture Series is being planned for this year, and will be open to the public, but especially made available to law and business students. On January 25th at 12:00 p.m., there will be a Zoom lecture featuring Prof. Matthew Bellamy (Carleton University, Department of History) speaking on part of his book, Brewed in the North: A History of Labatt’s (Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019). His talk will look at the family business origins of Labatt’s brewing and the company’s operations through the prohibition era. This talk will thus draw together private enterprise, law, and history – in keeping with the vision of the Desautels Centre – and show the power of multidisciplinary approaches to understanding businesses.

Finally, the Faculty will develop new Desautels courses including accounting for start-up business ventures, lawyers in the sector, and family owned start-ups, and will offer workshops to law and business students and the general public on: family-owned businesses, start-up ventures in Manitoba, rural business planning and operations in Manitoba, and more.

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