Law of Leadership Course Descriptions

UPDATE: The Law of Leadership concentration will not be offered during the 2020/2021 academic year as a result of COVID-related reasons.  We very much look forward to welcoming an outstanding cohort in 2021/2022.  If you would like to learn more about the Law of Leadership concentration, or any of the other GPLLM offerings, we’d be delighted to arrange a phone call or Zoom meeting.


Global Professional Master of Laws in the Law of Leadership 

*Please note that not all courses will necessarily be available every year.

Perspectives on Leadership and the Law (required) - Gordon Currie 

This course will canvas a series of topics at the intersection of law and leadership, including: the sources of legal obligation; how laws change and evolve; the type and nature of legal disputes; and how to respond to legal crises. The course will be divided into three main topics.

Sources of Legal Obligation: The course will begin by exploring the many sources from which legal obligations arise as well as the range of people and entities to whom the organization owes or is owed a duty. Sources may include agreements to which the organization or its representatives are a party, statutes and regulation, and the common law.

Influencing the Law: Students will explore the ways in which they or their organization can influence the laws that govern them through policy advocacy and otherwise. In addition, the course will examine how laws change (both through advocacy and as a result of disruption) and the types of tools that are making law more accessible to leaders (and lawyers).

Managing Legal Crises: In the final part of the course, students will examine the types of legal disputes, and best practices for responding to a variety of legal crises, including crisis communications and more. 

The Law of the Workplace - Jennifer Mathers McHenry and Lisa Talbot

This course is intended to provide an overview of the Canadian legal framework that regulates employment, which includes common law, general statutory regulation, and collective bargaining law.

Topics covered will include:

  • the employer-employee relationship;
  • the common law contract of employment;
  • legislation that regulates employment standards;
  • acceptable workplace conduct;
  • termination of employment with or without cause; and
  • other “hot topics,” including the collection and use of big data, social media, and technology in the employment law context.

Harassment, Discrimination & the Duty to Accommodate - Emma Phillips and Pamela Chapman

This course will canvas the obligations of employers under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other relevant legislation, to ensure a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment, and violence; and in which employees are reasonably accommodated pursuant to the Human Rights Code.

Specifically, this course will cover the following major topics:

Harassment and Workplace Violence: The course will review what constitutes harassment and sexual harassment; relevant legislation and the resulting obligations of employers; the duty to address harassment in the workplace, including managerial responsibilities and employer liability for harassment; procedural fairness in harassment investigations; and the obligation to establish policies and procedures that guard against and are responsive to violence in the workplace. Participants will learn how to identify harassment under the Human Rights Code and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA); become familiar with the procedures for dealing with harassment complaints; and be able to identify and articulate options available to employees who report that they have witnessed or experienced workplace harassment.

Discrimination and the Duty to Accommodate: The course will canvas key developments in discrimination law jurisprudence, including human rights in theory and practice, and the duty to accommodate as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code. The course will cover the development of human rights legislation; what constitutes a prima facie case of discrimination; the scope of the prohibition on discrimination under the Code; the prohibited grounds and their role in defining discrimination, the defences of bona fide occupational requirement and reasonable accommodation/undue hardship; exceptions to the right not to be discriminated against; and the remedies available under the Code and other legislation.

Implicit Bias and Cultural Competence: Participants will explore the ways that implicit bias impacts our interactions in the workplace and may interfere with an employer’s obligation to create a workplace free of harassment and discrimination; how to identify bias in oneself and others; and how to implement strategies to deal with subtle and implicit bias in the workplace. Participants will be encouraged to develop and practice cultural competence.  

Procedural Fairness in Decision Making - Richard Stacey 

This course will explore conceptions of justice and the requirement to render decisions with procedural fairness across a range of organizations, including not-for-profit, public and private businesses. All organizations will benefit from a greater understanding of the principles of justice that should inform the design of rules, procedures and policies to govern decisions that affect their employees, members, and customers, as well as how to operationalize procedural fairness in decision making.

Topics covered will include:

  • the duty of fairness and conceptions of justice;
  • case law that has articulated how the courts will assess whether a decision-making body has met the standard expected of them (including the circumstances in which courts are willing to exercise their supervisory jurisdiction in cases of membership based organizations, boards, not-for-profits, etc.);
  • what the duty of fairness requires of people or bodies charged with making decisions that affect the rights of others, including notice, written reasons, an opportunity to be heard, a written set of rules, prior notice that a decision is to be made, and the opportunity to participate;
  • how to balance fairness with decision-making economy;
  • how to write decisions that will withstand scrutiny; and
  • how to conduct administrative investigations. 

Executive Compensation - Michael Thompson and John Tuzyk

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, employers that are able to attract, retain, and motivate key personnel by offering generous and thoughtful compensation packages have a tremendous advantage over their competitors. This course will provide participants with an understanding of the fundamentals of compensation design and pay and performance alignment, including base pay, performance based compensation, stock options and deferred compensation. It will also explore the tax, legal and regulatory frameworks that govern executive compensation. The course will focus on both employees and directors and will address publicly listed, private sector and not-for-profit issues, along with the reporting requirements in each sector.

The course is intended to provide participants with the information, best practices and strategies required to participate in the compensation governance process within their organizations. Specifically, participants will:

  • develop an understanding of the fundamentals of total executive compensation design, including the principle of pay and performance alignment;
  • be introduced to key concepts in executive compensation;
  • understand the various aspects of the executive compensation governance process;
  • develop best practices and strategies for participating in or conducting executive compensation reviews; and
  • understand the regulatory environment as it relates to executive compensation and disclosure.

Dispute Resolution and Negotiations - Kileen Dagg Centurione

Every manager negotiates countless times every day, but few are afforded the opportunity to reflect on their skills and provided the opportunity to improve their dispute resolution and negotiation techniques.  Like all skills, negotiation can be learned and improved through study and practice.  This course is intended to provide participants with the opportunity to do just that.  Students will negotiate a number of hypothetical fact scenarios, and will analyze the results and techniques used. We will also have a number of classroom "exercises" designed to help improve negotiating skills. By the end of the course, we hope that students will be able to go into any negotiation confident that they have learned techniques that will consistently produce a satisfactory result.

Cannabis Law and Regulation - Chris Nyberg

The legalization of cannabis has had a profound impact on Canada. While legalization has sparked a multi-billion dollar industry seemingly overnight, it has also led to a number of novel issues that need to be reconciled with existing legislation and policy objectives, many of which are inconsistent. This introductory course will provide a foundation for understanding Canada’s complex cannabis framework by exploring its evolution and the current regulations in a holistic manner. We will cover a wide range of relevant topics, including criminal justice reform, consumption rules, securities regulation, financing and insolvency issues, cannabis promotion, intellectual property considerations, international obligations and opportunities, employment considerations as well as other timely issues. Interested students will also be afforded the opportunity to participate in a cannabis deal maker’s seminar with various members of the Canadian cannabis industry.

Freedom of Speech and Cyberbullying in the Age of the Internet

The proliferation of technology and social media has caused a marked rise in cyberbullying, which is no longer experienced by the young alone. Instances of workplace bullying, and cyberbullying generally, are on the rise. Unfortunately, despite the increase in cyber-assaults, written and verbal assaults, and other forms of cyberbullying, few organizations are equipped to respond appropriately. This is largely because the legal framework has not evolved in a comprehensive or sufficient manner despite the fact that legislators, educators, social policy and youth advocacy experts have been struggling with the issue for years.

This course will explore:

  • the law as it relates to cyberbullying, including the legislation that governs cyberbullying in schools, the legal framework for sexualized cyberbullying and “revenge porn,” and examples of the way the law is evolving globally;
  • the areas of law pursuant to which cyberbullying can be prosecuted, including civil claims and criminal charges;
  • the competing interests in freedom of expression and privacy and when the former becomes cyberbullying;
  • global responses to the issue;
  • the duty to prevent and report cyberbullying; and
  • precedent setting cases.   

Management and Resolution of Legal Disputes 

Conflict is often approached and managed in a piecemeal, ad hoc, fashion, with lawyers (in-house and external) being engaged reluctantly as required.  Increasingly, however, the management of legal disputes is thought of as an integrated business mandate, which sees organizational leaders and business people working effectively with counsel to strategically identify and assess legal risks, and to reform their legal policy and devise processes that enable them to identify and abate risk and manage disputes effectively when they arise.

This course will provide participants with an introduction to, and understanding of, the following topics:

  • 1.      Analysis of legal risk (private vs. public, internal vs. external, domestic vs. international)
  • 2.      Canadian and international legal structures (federal, provincial, and municipal, court structures, public international law/private international law)
  • 3.      Overview of risk management (external and internal, contractual, corporate structure, limitation of liability)
  • 4.      Types of dispute resolution mechanisms (negotiation, mediation, conciliation, etc.)
  • 5.      Conflict management strategies
  • 6.      Litigation and arbitration management 

Privacy and Expression in the Digital Age- Jennifer Saville and Alexi Wood

Organizations and individuals face privacy issues daily. The law, on the other hand, is just beginning to grasp the nuances of privacy concerns in an ever-evolving digital age. Now more than ever, a careful balance is needed between a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy and freedom of expression. This course aims to address the intersection - and tension - between law, privacy and expression. Using case studies, we will survey a wide range of topics that affect professionals on a day to day basis, including:

  • the blurring of private and public spheres in the digital age; 
  • emerging privacy law torts;
  • the role of the media;
  • privacy rights in the health context;
  • policy violations and data breaches; and
  • government action and Charter rights.