Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Intellectual property specialist expands Queen’s Business Law Clinic’s mandate

(August 10, 2017)

Morgan Jarvis, Law'10, Director, QBLC
Morgan Jarvis, Law’10, Director of the Queen’s Business Law Clinic

Since managing the Queen’s Business Law Clinic as a student eight years ago, Morgan Jarvis, Law’10 (Artsci’05, MSc’08), has developed an expertise for legal matters involving IP, technology innovation and business law. He’s been an associate with Gowlings (now Gowling WLG), VP of Marketing and Innovation Strategy with pro bono legal service provider AdviceScene Enterprises Inc., a Technology Transfer Officer with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, a review counsel with the QBLC – and also an Olympic rower. On August 1, he returned to his alma mater as the clinic’s full-time director, ready to steer his crew of student caseworkers in delivering legal services to a broader client base of Kingston-area entrepreneurs, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

After his first day on the job, he talked to Queen’s Law Reports about how his career has come full circle with the QBLC and revealed his plans for the clinic’s future.

What interests you most about business law and in providing legal services to small businesses and non-profit organizations?

MJ: I’ve always been interested in the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s fascinating to work with people who have the drive and dream to build their own business, and it’s really rewarding to see them succeed in doing so. The clinic has a meaningful impact on the local Queen’s and Kingston start-up community, and it’s great to be a part of that.

To illustrate, the clinic is becoming known for its great work helping local craft brewery start-ups select and protect their trademarks. After the beer itself, a good brand can be a key step to success in this industry. We’ve now helped a couple of local breweries get their marks registered. It’s so satisfying to sip from a pint in a local pub sporting the logo we’ve helped protect, and for another, purchasing their labelled cans in the LCBO, knowing they’ve made the move from start-up to successful business with our help.   

While local start-ups are key to the future of Kingston’s economic well-being, charities and other not-for-profits are key to its cultural, sporting and spiritual well-being. Similar to those who are directly involved in the great causes that help pick up the less fortunate or those who run some other club or group that brings quality of life to Kingston, it’s extremely rewarding to help these people do their great work.

How did you first get involved with the Queen’s Business Law Clinic?

MJ: I was actually one of the first clinic students back in the fall of 2009. Thanks to the great initiative of Peter Kissick (Law’88, LLM’98), the clinic’s first Director, Dean Bill Flanagan and the four Law’09 pilot project students, the clinic was started to provide a practical experience for aspiring business lawyers, and has just flourished since then. I found the practical clinic experience to be my most valuable learning experience at Queen’s, and it was working directly with local not-for-profits and business people that actually got me interested in pursuing corporate and commercial work in the first place. It’s one thing to read about the history and theory of contract law, but it’s totally another, and a rather fun exercise to draft a contract from scratch.

What did you like best about being review counsel with the QBLC?

MJ: Like all teaching jobs, it’s so satisfying to see our students learn and improve over the year. My goal is to prepare them for the law firm environment, empowering them to develop the skills they need to be independent and effective legal professionals. It’s great to see the improvement in their work, and how they go about it, over their time in the clinic. They invariably start by coming to me with every little question – conduct which would end their working relationship with any busy partner – and I turn them away to find the resources and the answers for themselves. By the end of the year, they’re mostly providing polished drafts and well-researched and independently developed opinions, and I know they’re ready for the next stage in their careers.

What encouraged you to return to your alma mater full-time as QBLC Director?

MJ: I enjoyed my years at Queen’s and in Kingston so much that it’s always been a bit of dream to return. I was always involved in the rowing club and many of my friends from the Queen’s and Kingston crews stayed in town, along with our amazing volunteer coaches, making it a very desirable place to live. This on top of the fact that it has such a vibrant historic downtown, with the recreation and relaxation that comes with waterfront living surrounded by beautiful rural country, makes it a top destination for me. 

The chance to come back to the QBLC was an opportunity I couldn’t pass-up. After being the first clinic manager in its first class under Peter Kissick, and with him still around offering helpful counsel, it’s like coming home to run the family business.

What will you be doing as QBLC Director and what are your plans for the clinic?

MJ: The past two directors (Peter Kissick and Christian Hurley) have done such a great job to get the clinic in the shape it’s in today. It’s really a turn-key operation that I’ve been able to step into and immediately get to work on the bigger picture plans I’ve always had for it. When I was a student, I found it disappointing that there wasn’t much opportunity for exposure to intellectual property law in a practical way. This is something that I’ve wanted to provide to Queen’s Law students through the Business Law Clinic. Much of my commercial practice has had an IP slant to it, so I’m pleased to be able to take on more IP work than the clinic has in the past, and to provide interested students with new opportunities in this area.

Related to this has been my desire to get the clinic students more connected with other practical programs in the university, particularly those with an entrepreneurship and innovation focus. We’re now working with the relatively new Innovation Park and the Queen’s Innovation Centre, providing legal services to their program participants. I plan to keep working on these and similar connections. They provide a fantastic way for our law students to experience the work they’ll be doing in private practice, potentially meet their future clients, and help build the Queen’s and Kingston start-up community. 

The Queen’s Law Clinics gratefully acknowledge the support of Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Foundation of Ontario, Pro Bono Students Canada, the class of Law’81, the United Way, and alumni and industry sponsors.