The following is a report on the 2018 National Student Conference, written by Bethany Schatz and Jisoo Vis, Co-Presidents of the CLF Student Chapter at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law (Class of 2018).
From March 1st to 4th, 2018, the University of Alberta (“U of A”) CLF Chapter hosted the 13th annual CLF National Law Student Conference at our Faculty of Law in Edmonton, Alberta. The very first student conference was held in Edmonton in 2005, and we were blessed to host the conference again after all these years.
Christian legal professionals and students from across the country gathered at the Faculty of Law for an intensive two-day conference under the theme Quaecumque vera (“Whatsoever things are true”), the U of A’s motto which was taken from Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think on these things.
Early Friday morning, the conference attendees reflected on this verse as the Dean of Law welcomed them to the U of A Faculty of Law and briefly explored the history of the verse and the relevance of religion in the practice of law from his point of view as a scholar on legal ethics and professional responsibility.
Friday at lunch, all of the U of A Faculty of Law was invited to a lunch session that explored the TWU, Wall, and Ktunaxa cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Three panelists gave summaries of these cases and offered their perspectives on freedom of religion as counsel to intervenors: Derek Ross, CLF’s Executive Director; Avnish Nanda, who acted for the intervenors the World Sikh Organization of Canada and Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council; and Gerald Chipeur, QC, who acted for the intervenors Seventh Day Adventist Church in Canada and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Canada. The session was well attended by students and faculty, including the Dean of Law.
The rest of the conference program balanced theoretical and practical sessions, featuring an outstanding array of speakers who spoke not only on their substantive work, but also offered their personal insight about what it means to walk as a Christian lawyer. The schedule offered many opportunities for students to ask questions, get to know one another, and discuss the common issues that we work through as Christian law students.
Many of the speakers stayed after their sessions to participate in the ongoing dialogue and fellowship. Their genuine concern and support for the next generation of Christian lawyers was part of what made this conference so special. Some of the wisdom that was shared in the space between sessions challenged and encouraged just as much as the formal presentations themselves.
Saturday ended with a banquet for students, local CLF members, and speakers, who were welcomed by the Dean of Law. The Honourable Clifton D. O’Brien, Q.C., who had served as a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut from 2005 - 2014, gave a keynote address on the theme “Maintaining Faith in a Secular World”. We learned about the importance of maintaining our Christian identity in a pluralistic society with a diverse range of opinions and beliefs. The banquet ended with local members of the bar praying over the student attendees.
The conference was such a wonderful testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We thank God for His provision throughout the year leading up to the conference, and thank our conference committee members who devoted many hours of their time towards making this conference possible: Matt Kaup, Deanna Froese, Elizabeth Chen, Nate Gartke, and Chad Graham.
A heartfelt thank you from the CLF Team to Bethany (left) and Jisoo (right) and the rest of the University of Alberta Student Chapter for your incredible efforts in orchestrating this successful conference. We cannot wait to see what God will do at the 2019 Student Conference (March 7-10, jointly held at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Osgoode Hall Law School).