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Smyth and Jacobs join leadership team

Windsor Law is pleased to announce the appointments of Professor Gemma Smyth as associate dean (academic) and of Professor Laverne Jacobs as the inaugural associate dean of research and graduate studies.

“We are thrilled to be adding Professors Smyth and Jacobs to our leadership team,” said Dean of Law, Christopher Waters. “We are grateful for the outstanding support to students provided by former Associate Dean Jasminka Kalajdzic and Acting Associate Dean Maggie Liddle.”

Starting July 1, 2018, Smyth will begin a three-year term as associate dean (academic) and Jacobs will begin a two-year term as the inaugural associate dean of research and graduate studies.

Professor Gemma SmythProfessor Smyth, a graduate of Windsor Law ‘02, joined the faculty in 2009. She holds an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School and served as interim associate dean from July 2016 to June 2017. She has served as professor and academic clinic director for Windsor Law’s two largest clinics, Legal Assistance of Windsor and Community Legal Aid. She has also served as executive director of University of Windsor Mediation Services and as mediator for the Ontario government and recently created an Externship Program at Windsor Law, which will be launching in the fall of this year.

Smyth has taught in the clinical, graduate, and doctrinal streams at Windsor Law. She researches and writes in the areas of clinic law, dispute resolution, lawyering skills, and legal education, publishing the first book in Canada on clinical legal education with Professors Sarah Buhler and Sarah Marsden. She is president of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education (ACCLE), a national body advocating for and researching clinical and experiential forms of legal education. She also has a YouTube channel focusing on clinical legal education. In her research, Smyth is interested in the intersection of clients' and communities' experiences of law and lawyering, and the skills, behaviours and attitudes that result in higher quality relationships. She was the recipient of teaching awards in 2009, 2011 and 2015, and received the University of Windsor Faculty Recognition Award for Scholarship and Research in 2017. 

She is an active member of the Windsor-Essex community, working with several local Boards and community groups.


Professor Jacobs will begin a two-year term as the inaugural associate dean (research and graduate studies). In this role, Jacobs will lead the development and implementation of the Faculty of Law’s strategic research goals and champion research excellence at the faculty.

Jacobs joined Windsor Law in 2007 and brings significant research leadership experience to the faculty. As associate dean, she will also continue to direct and develop graduate studies at the faculty. She led the creation of Windsor Law’s first graduate program, the Windsor Law LLM Program which started in 2016.

Jacobs is a recognized administrative law scholar who teaches in the area of public law. Her scholarship is published in leading journals and has been cited by Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She is frequently asked to speak at conferences domestically and internationally and is regularly invited by government to consult on policy development, advise NGOs and to contribute to public debates in the media.

Jacobs takes an interdisciplinary approach to research, using qualitative research methods from the social sciences to engage with the complexities of administrative law and its impact. She is currently interested in the ways in which marginalized individuals, especially people with disabilities, interact with government bodies and in developing law and policy frameworks to address contemporary issues that emerge on the ground.

Jacobs has been the recipient of a number of research awards. In 2014, she held the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has been successful in obtaining several competitive research grants from major funding agencies including SSHRC, CIHR and the Foundation for Legal Research. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Cornell University Law School and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at Berkeley Law. She received University of Windsor Faculty Recognition Awards for Excellence in Scholarship and Research in 2010 and 2014.

In the wider community, Jacobs has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, the Income Security Advocacy Centre and Beyond Disability of Windsor-Essex. She has chaired or served on numerous committees within these organizations. She has held public appointments as a member of the Advisory Council to the Ontario Minister responsible for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and as a part-time member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In 2018, she received the University of Windsor’s Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award.

Please join us in welcoming Professor Smyth and Professor Jacobs to the leadership team!