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UM Faculty of Law student recognized for Philanthropy and the Law research

Fourth Manitoban in five years wins Canadian Bar Association essay award

December 15, 2023 — 

For the fourth time in five years, a law student at Robson Hall has won the annual Canadian Bar Association Charities and Not-for-Profit Law Section’s student essay-writing contest. Robert Johnstone is a third-year Juris Doctor student whose winning paper was titled “The Secularization of Philanthropy: Examining the Potential Revocation of the Roman Catholic Church’s Charitable Status.”

Robert Johnstone (3L) won the 2023 Canadian Bar Association Charities and Not-for-Profit Law Section’s student essay-writing contest.

Robert Johnstone (3L) won the 2023 CBA Charities and Not-for-Profit Law Section’s student essay-writing contest.

Johnstone is part of the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic and serves as an assistant editor of the Banking and Finance Law Review. Johnstone worked as a summer law student at MLT Aikins LLP. He wrote the winning essay after taking Professor Michelle Gallant’s course Philanthropy and the Law which examines philanthropy and the origins and regulation of charities. The course considers the ethics of giving, tax governance, the legal meaning of ‘charity,’ fund-raising, terrorism and non-for profits.

“It’s an honor to have my essay selected for this award,” said Johnstone. “Thank you to my family and friends, all of whom have supported me on this academic journey.”

“Dr. Gallant’s course provided the perfect opportunity to draft a piece on something that I see as very important in the future in tax and the way it affects the most vulnerable in society,” he said.

Reflecting on the area of law, Johnstone said, “Philanthropy isn’t just about the allocation of resources, but also includes examining the best method for their delivery. The Catholic Church, and how it impacts Canadian society from a charitable perspective, provided an interesting case study.”

The CBA’s Charities and Not-for-Profit Law section had established its law student essay contest to promote and reward interest in charity and not-for-profit law topics in Canadian law schools and to promote participation by law students in the sector.

The award is presented annually for the best English or French scholarly paper received by the submission date on a subject relating to Canadian charity and not-for-profit law, by a full-time law student.

The deadline for submission each year is May 2 and in addition to a $500 prize, the winning student is invited to attend the annual Charity Law Symposium.

Past University of Manitoba winners and links to their respective winning papers are as follows:



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