by Karen Richardson
Cherie Metcalf is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law and currently teaches courses in the area of public law, including constitutional law and international environmental law. She also teaches a course in law and economics, an interdisciplinary perspective that informs her research.
Professor Metcalf completed her PhD in Economics at the University of British Columbia, specializing in Economic History, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. She also recently completed an LL.M. degree at Yale University as a Fulbright Scholar. In her research, Professor Metcalf combines her interest in public law with her training in economics. She has particularly focused on connections between indigenous people's rights and resource and environmental management. In 2005 Professor Metcalf and co-author, Ian Keay, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, were awarded the John Vanderkamp Prize for their paper, "Aboriginal Rights, Customary Law & The Economics of Renewable Resource Exploitation," judged the best paper published in Canadian Public Policy - Analyse Politiques that year.
Her Fulbright grant allowed her to research the role that compensation of indigenous people for interference with their rights might play in government management of natural resources. Her article, "Compensation as Discipline in the Justified Infringement of Aboriginal Rights: The Case of Forest Exploitation," is to be published in the Queen's Law Journal in the spring. Her latest projects involve researching the role of constitutional protection for property rights, as well as research on the private means that public law is put into effect, such as corporate social responsibility.
Professor Metcalf is currently working with the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Graduate Studies to develop a proposed program for a combined M.A. in the Department of Economics and a J.D. in the Faculty of Law at Queen's. "One of the major developments in the legal academy has been the incorporation of interdisciplinary perspectives in legal research and education," she says. "Perspectives from other disciplines can help us ask and answer important questions about the way that law functions."
The existence and commitment to developing combined programs in emerging areas is part of the strategic plan for the Faculty of Law. "We're very open to incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives in legal education, in our J.D. and LL.M. programs and through our existing combined programs (J.D. / M.I.R. and J.D. / M.P.A. offered with the School of Policy Studies)," she says. "And because Queen's is a smaller school with a more intimate and collegial atmosphere, you can access people from other departments more easily than in a larger institution. This I think is a big advantage of Queen's."
There are currently two different types of graduate students within the law faculty: LL.M. students and M.P.A. (Master's of Public Administration) / M.I.R. (Masters in Industrial Relations) students. Graduate students working with Professor Metcalf are currently completing research on a range of topics. One graduate LL.M. student, for instance, is completing a thesis using a law and economics approach to analyze the regulation of insider trading in securities markets and will be working at the Ontario Securities Commission on completion of his program. Another graduate student in the joint J.D./M.P.A. program is currently working as a research assistant on the regulatory regime for patented medicines, by helping to collect and analyze data, as well as writing a joint paper with Professor Metcalf.
The graduate program in law has recently been restructured, she notes. "The program still has a strong research component and it incorporates required courses that provide foundational skills, but it also has more flexibility, so students can tailor their programs to suit and attain their own career goals."
This flexibility comes in the form of new options to a thesis-based LL.M. While it is still possible to have an intensive, research-only graduate experience, there is now a course-oriented option.
One of the unique aspects of studying law at Queen's is that the institution provides a small, intimate setting in which to do graduate studies, she says. "We aim to foster a culture of mentorship and accessibility between faculty and students that is an invaluable part of any graduate program."