New Learning Commons is anything but common for law students
Queen’s Law has opened the doors to a new Learning Commons exclusively for Law students. The Commons, which takes over the lower floor of the William R. Lederman Law Library, gives students a place to study, convene and practice their legal skills.
The modern 6,000-square-foot space boasts a large open-concept study area, five rooms for moot practices and small-group meetings, a large study room for graduate students, 56 study carrels and two banquet seating areas. The Learning Commons reflects advances in the teaching and practice of law with a more connected, collaborative and leadership-oriented focus.
The Commons is connected to the Law Library so students have ready access to resources for those projects in which digital sources aren’t sufficient. The stacks of infrequently used journals, which previously occupied the space and are now available online, have been sent to Stauffer Library for storage.
The renovations have created a much more student-centered space for individual and group work by all those pursuing Queen’s Law degrees.
Mooting is a large part of the upper-year JD curriculum at Queen’s, where students participate in one of many national and international competitions each year. One previous challenge the Commons addresses is the lack of space for moot practices and team meetings. Alyssa Leblanc, Law ’16, is competing in the Warren K. Winkler Class Action Moot this year. Of the five new meeting spaces available for moot practice, she says “the Commons is bright, airy and colourful – it’s an enjoyable space in which to work.”
Prior to the opening of the Commons in December, she notes that students struggled to find space to practice their moot submissions and meet with their teammates. Most of the classrooms in Macdonald Hall are in use for seminars and lectures, and the library is meant to be a quiet study space. “Having several rooms in the Learning Commons, where moot practice sessions are prioritized, allows us to focus on legal research, writing and advocacy,” she says. “We don’t have to spend time looking for a meeting space or moving from room to room as classrooms are occupied.”
Chris Waters, a PhD candidate in international humanitarian law, was part of the committee that designed the new space and is also a frequent user of the Commons. For graduate students, he says, “the new Learning Commons is an incredibly positive change to the study facilities that were previously available.” Prior to the renovations, master’s and doctoral students were spread about Macdonald Hall in a variety of shared offices, with a main study room in the library basement.
“The committee took note that that the conditions weren’t conducive to good research and writing,” he says. “The new room dedicated to graduate students is an enjoyable space in which to work and a welcome improvement to the facilities offered at Queen’s Law.”
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