Peter Hogg tells the amusing story of Canadian constitutional law

Young lawyers meet the author of their first-year textbook
Peter Hogg and students

Lerners' 12th Annual Extraordinary Women's Extravaganza, April 6, 2017

What: The 5th Annual Toronto Lawyers Association Bench and Bar Young Lawyers Soirée
Where: The TLA Courthouse Library
When: Thursday, May 4, 2017

The keynote speaker at this year’s TLA Bench and Bar Young Lawyers Soirée was a big-time legal celeb. In fact, the youngest lawyers in attendance probably read his book.

That’s because the speaker was Peter Hogg, whose textbook, Constitutional Law of Canada, is a bestseller on law-school campuses every fall. It’s also the most-cited textbook in decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Canada. So when Hogg spoke, the young lawyers listened.

In his remarks, the 78-year-old recounted his move from New Zealand, where he worked as a law professor, to Canada in 1970. He had accepted a teaching position at Osgoode Hall Law School. The dean at the time asked him to teach a course on Canadian constitutional law. Obviously, he didn’t know much about the topic.

“They were short on staff to teach the subject because no one was interested in constitutional law,” Hogg chuckled. He studied the few texts that were out there and, in 1977, turned his research into the now-famous textbook.

Five years later, when the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted, constitutional law became one of the coolest topics in law. Hogg added a whopping 500 pages to his textbook to cover the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Everything changed after that,” he said. “The Canadian courts were absolutely deluged with constitutional cases. And the dean’s problems with staffing ended completely: everyone who applied to academia only wanted to teach constitutional law.”

To learn more about the Toronto Lawyers Association, visit the TLA website.

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 Photography by Sissi Wang