Transnational Legal Ethics in a time of National Interests

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 17:00 to 19:00

5:00pm Lecture   |   6:00pm Reception
Four Seasons Hotel, Park Ballroom

The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics presents:

Transnational Legal Ethics in a time of National Interests

Recent times have seen resurgent assertions of national interest in domestic politics and in foreign relations, even suggestions of a new cold war among the leading global powers. As a result, lawyers and those they represent face strong claims about the primacy of protecting national interest in diverse policy areas such as science and technology, extradition, human rights, and investment and economic transactions. The talk will argue in contrast that legal relations now are fundamentally transnational, necessarily involving multiple and complex connections across national borders, and that they reflect a diverse and complex pluralism within each national tradition. This is especially true in Canada, given the centrality of legal issues involving First Nations and the foundational strengths and consequences of a society built on flows of people from around the world. Effectively representing client interests – and advancing the public interest in the best sense –  entails a corresponding transnational ethics when it comes to the lawyering role, one that involves sophistication, nuance and sometimes opposition in response to assertions about the nature and content of national interest. 

Robert Wai

Robert Wai, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Robert Wai has been a member of the faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto since 1998, where he researches and teaches in various areas of international economic law. He has served in a number of governance roles at the law school including as Associate Dean. He helped to develop and teach the course in Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community at Osgoode. This fall he was a Braudel Senior Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence and a visiting professor at Sciences Po Law School in Paris, and this spring he will visit at number of institutions in Asia including as a visiting professor teaching international economic law at the University of Hong Kong.

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The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics was established in honour of J. Donald Mawhinney, Q.C., to recognize his outstanding contributions to British Columbia’s legal community, his commitment to legal education and his dedication to practising with the very highest standard of professional ethics. The J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics was established in 2006. The holders of this prestigious Lectureship are drawn from the judiciary, practice, or academia each year. This Lecture commemorates Mr. Mawhinney’s dedication to professional ethics and legal education and recognizes those whose contributions enabled the Lectureship in Professional Ethics. A special thank you to family, friends and colleagues whose generous contributions have made this lecture possible. Mr. Mawhinney passed away in September 2010.

This event qualifies for one hour of Continuing Professional Development Credit in Ethics.