All COVID-19 Updates from the Dean's Office

Tuesday, May 26 at 11 AM

Dear upper-year students:

I hope that you are all staying healthy and safe, and are getting the chance to enjoy this more seasonable weather.

I’m writing to provide you with an update about planning for the 2020-21 academic year. As I’m sure you are aware, higher education will look very different this fall than it has in the past. At Western Law, our planning process has taken into consideration the safety of our students and faculty, the ongoing requirements for physical distancing, and the significant limitations this will create for our use of space at the law school. We are also mindful that our incoming first-year students will need special attention so that they can adjust to the study of law and build connections to the law school.

As a result, we have come to the difficult decision that all Fall Term courses for upper-year students will be delivered remotely. You will receive more details about individual courses during our course selection process in July. However, you can rest assured that our professors want to give you the best possible learning experience in the circumstances. Western Law is hiring a team of students to assist faculty with the migration to remote delivery and, while your courses will look different, you can expect the same challenging and engaging educational experience to which you have become accustomed. 

It is likely that physical distancing guidelines will still be in place for the Winter Term. This means that most winter term courses for upper-year students will be delivered remotely as well. At this stage, we anticipate that possible exceptions might be the January Intensive Period for second-year students, and a small number of clinical and skills-based courses that are best delivered in person.

Some of you may also be curious about how external moots will be affected by the pandemic. So far, we have heard of two external moots that have been cancelled outright (Corporate Securities and Environmental Law), and others may be conducted virtually. From the law school’s perspective, we know that we will be using moot team selection procedures other than the usual Lerner’s Cup competition. We will provide more details as we are able.

All of us at Western Law are disappointed that we won’t be seeing our entire student body around the law building this fall. We will miss the energy, intellectual stimulation, and sense of fun that our students provide. Over the coming months, we will be working with the Student Legal Society and other student leaders to develop plans for maintaining the vital sense of community and connectedness that set the student experience at Western Law apart. 

We will be in regular communication with you over the coming weeks as our plans unfold. We are facing uncertainty in so many aspects of our lives, and we wanted to provide at least some clarity to you so that you can plan accordingly. 

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Thursday, April 9 at 8:50 AM

Dear Western Law Students,

I am writing, on this last day of the Winter Term, to say thank you. Thank you for your patience, your flexibility, and your perseverance through these last few challenging weeks. You have completed classes, presentations and other assessments through virtual means, and now you are entering the uncharted territory of completing your final exams remotely. I encourage you to view this unusual exam period as an integral part of your learning process, and I hope that you have a constructive experience. 

Third-year students: I am sorry that your time at Western Law is ending in an impersonal way, and that you are missing out on the collective celebrations that should accompany the completion of your law degree. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations on all that you have achieved. Our faculty and staff look forward to celebrating with you more formally once we are able to gather together again. 

Returning students: I know that some of you are facing an uncertain summer, and may not be able to work in the law placements or other summer jobs you had planned. To provide some measure of financial relief and law-related work experience, Western Law will be creating a number of new summer research assistant positions for returning students. Please watch your email later this month for more information about these positions and the application process. 

We will also be designating more funds for student bursaries this fall, to help you through this difficult time and allow you to focus on your studies.

Finally, I want to let you know that the Ontario Law Deans are speaking with the Law Society of Ontario about how it will adjust its licensing process and its summer and articling recruitment guidelines to account for the present circumstances. The Deans want to ensure that the interests of students and licensing candidates are prioritized.

My best wishes to you and your loved ones over the coming months. I look forward to seeing you again in the next academic year.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Thursday, March 26 at 7 PM

Dear third-year students,

You will now have received the following message from Western’s President, Alan Shepard. Regrettably, this postponement also applies to the Law Awards Ceremony, which was scheduled to be held on June 26.

This will understandably come as disappointing news; graduating from law school is an important personal and professional milestone. I know that this will leave some of you feeling like you have been shortchanged and that your academic career is unfinished. 

However, like the university more broadly, Western Law is committed to providing you with a graduation ceremony at a later date, when the restrictions related to the current pandemic are lifted. It is important to all of us that you are able to share your achievements with your classmates, loved ones, and the faculty and staff at Western Law. We all want to celebrate your success.

In the meantime, your degrees will still be conferred this June, allowing you to move forward with the licensing process. Please make sure that you apply to graduate here.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Thursday, March 26 at 10 AM

Dear all,

Thank you again for being patient while we worked out the necessary changes to the final exams. The updated schedule is attached, and can also be found on OWL - Western Law Curriculum & Course Info, in the Examinations tab. 

Please continue to monitor your Western email for important messages from the Faculty of Law.

Take good care of yourselves (wash hands, maintain social/physical distance, etc - you know the drill) and remember that you are not alone. We are all part of the community and will help each other through this challenging time.

All the best,

Tigger Jourard
Student Services Coordinator, Faculty of Law

Tuesday, March 24 at 2 PM

Dear Western Law Students, 

Attached please find a document outlining the new rules relating to grading and the administration of exams this April. I urge you to read the document carefully. It contains much important information and you may be required you to take action in advance of the exam period. The document will be posted on the OWL Course and Curriculum web page for future reference.

An additional document providing information about academic accommodations will be circulated shortly.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Chris Sherrin
Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Law

Monday, March 23 at 4 PM

Dear Western Law students,

Thank you for your patience as the faculty discussed options for final grading in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have heard from many students over the past week, who have shared a wide range of perspectives. Thank you for helping us to understand the varying personal circumstances in which you currently find yourselves. We have done our very best to take these into account in our deliberations. We have also taken into account the systems that are being adopted or contemplated at other law schools in Ontario and across Canada. 

We have considered a number of options, including maintaining the current grading system, implementing a mandatory pass/fail or pass/fail/distinction system, and some kind of elective system. We appreciate that there are good arguments on all sides, and that no solution will be ideal for everyone. It was important to us that our system not place undue weight on final grades, especially in a world where students’ academic performance will likely be affected by many factors that have nothing to do with aptitude and effort.

Ultimately, we have decided that all remaining courses will be evaluated on a grading scheme of Pass/Fail. This grading scheme applies to all winter term courses and full-year courses, unless the deadline for all required assessments was March 23 or earlier. Thus, for example, the following courses will be assessed with regular letter grades:

  • January Intensive Courses (suffix C)
  • External Moots
  • LRWA

Detailed information about this grading scheme and the operation of the final exam period will be communicated tomorrow.

Presently, it is anticipated that final exams will take place in their designated time slots, will be written using Examplify, and will include extra time in order to account for technological difficulties that you may encounter. We have rejected the proposal for across-the-board 24-hour take-home style exams, as we believe this could result in a grueling exam period, particularly for first-year students.

In the meantime, classes will proceed in their online format, and we intend to provide you with the best education possible under the circumstances. You are still required to complete all assessments in your courses, as modified in light of our new virtual format. Students who require accommodation should contact Associate Dean Sherrin in the usual course. 

Thank you again for your patience and understanding throughout this process, and for your thoughtful engagement in the deliberations. I wish you and your loved ones health and resilience during these challenging times.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Friday, March 20 at 5 PM

Dear Western Law students,

I’m writing to provide you with a brief update on the status of planning for final grades this term. I know that this is causing anxiety for many of you.  

I’d like to thank all of you for sending your input to us, whether through SLS surveys or otherwise. You have helped us to get a sense of the range of issues that concern you.

The faculty had a long meeting this morning to assess the various options. I have also had several conversations with law deans in Ontario and across Canada to see how different schools are addressing the situation. We understand that no approach is absolutely perfect, and are doing our best to determine a system that maximizes fairness and academic integrity, while taking into account the varying personal circumstances in which you are having to complete the term.

The faculty will be meeting again on Monday, and we should have a plan to communicate to you then. Thanks for your patience as we take the time to consider all the implications of the options.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Thursday, March 19 at 12 PM

Dear Western Law students,

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, Western University is taking new measures to protect the health and security of our campus community. This includes minimizing unnecessary traffic in buildings, so that caretaking and security staff can focus their efforts on a few key areas. The perimeter doors to the Law Building will be locked at 4 p.m. today. If you wish to study on campus, you can use the following locations:

  • University College: Rooms 1105, 1225, 2105, 2110, 3220 and 3225
  • University Community Centre: Rooms 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 54, and 67
  • Somerville House: Rooms 2316, 2317, and 2355
  • North Campus Building: Rooms 114, 117, 293, 295, and 296

These locations will be frequented by security staff and cleaned regularly.

All libraries on campus have been closed, on the directive of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Online collections remain available. For more information on library services, click here.

Our faculty and staff remain available by email, and you should feel free to contact them as you normally would. If, for some exceptional reason, you require access to the Law Building, please contact Michele Pegg (

Please note that we will coordinate locker clean-out at a later date.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Wednesday, March 18 at 3 AM

Dear Western Law students,

Our world has changed so much in the last week. We have all experienced disruption in our personal, social, and academic lives, and the ground seems to be constantly shifting under our feet. We have lost so many of the routines and personal interactions that normally give us comfort in stressful times.

Today we are beginning the online portion of our courses. This is a new experience for many of you, and it certainly is a new experience for most of your professors. Over the past few days, we have taken crash courses in rapidly moving our courses online, and have been sharing questions and ideas with each other.

Each of your professors will be providing material in the way they think best, and will probably be making adjustments as they go. If you have questions or feedback, please reach out directly to your professors. They want to make this the best learning experience that they can, but they are learning on the go themselves.

Please be patient with us. Like you, your professors have had to rapidly change their working conditions. They are accustomed to teaching a live class at the front of a classroom, and now they are teaching from their laptops in their home offices or at their kitchen tables, sometimes with children at home. The courses will not be perfect, but we will do our best to lead you through the remainder of the term.

Along with colleagues across Western and at other Ontario law schools, we are still discussing how to best administer final exams. We want to develop solutions that maximize fairness and academic integrity. We know that the uncertainty may cause you some anxiety, especially for those of you in first year. We will do everything we can to ensure that the current crisis does not adversely affect your final grades.

Finally, we understand that the unanticipated closure of the university means that you will not be seeing your classmates, who are often your best sources of support in difficult times. I hope that you will stay in touch with each other through the Western Law Facebook groups and other virtual platforms, but I know it’s not the same as seeing each other every day. Believe me, one of my own biggest disappointments about our current circumstances is that I will not see students on a regular basis. You are what makes Western Law so special.

We will continue to update you as plans are made. I wish you and your loved ones all the best in these uncertain and distressing times.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law

Thursday, March 12 at 10:30 PM

Dear Western Law students,

By now you should have received the President’s message, below, that all classes are cancelled from tomorrow (Friday) until Tuesday, and will be moved to online-only format beginning on Wednesday. I’m writing to confirm that this does apply to all classes at Western Law.

This is an unprecedented situation for all of us. I want to assure you that your safety and education are our top priorities. We will ensure that you are able to complete your term and that those who are scheduled to graduate will do so on time. We ask for your patience and understanding as we sort out the details over the next few days. We will aim to communicate with you regularly as plans progress.

I understand that this will cause some anxiety and disruption for you. I also know that you are a close-knit, resilient community, and that your professors care deeply about your success. We will get through these challenging days together.

Please monitor your email carefully for further information. The university, including the law school and law library, remains open, and faculty and staff will continue to work. You can find up-to-date information about Western’s COVID-19 measures here.

Yours truly,

Erika Chamberlain
Dean, Faculty of Law