THE ADVOCATE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 6 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 1 8 497
JAMIE CASSELS, Q.C.
By Murray Rankin, Q.C., M.P.
What is the best way to summarize the remarkable career of
a lawyer, legal scholar and university president? In the
case of Jamie Cassels, Q.C., there is no straight line. His
contributions in these fields have been diverse and multifaceted:
they will be lasting. Yet the tale has some twists and turns.
So this will not be a chronological narrative. I think it is better to start at
the end, or at least with current events. Jamie Cassels has been the president
of the University of Victoria since 2013 and began his second term on
July 1, 2018. He has overseen the flourishing of this university, now home
to almost 22,000 students—more about those accomplishments later.
I first got to know Jamie when we taught together at the UVic Faculty of
Law in the 1980s. Although Jamie hails from a long line of lawyers, he did
not come to law by following the typical trajectory. While he attended high
school at the University of Toronto School, known for its academic focus, I
think it fair to say he was far from an enthusiastic student. By all accounts,
he just scraped through before landing at Carleton University where his
intellectual passion was first ignited studying philosophy. So for any parents
out there concerned about children who might best be described as
“late bloomers”, take heed: Jamie is the paradigm of an academic late
bloomer. After Jamie completed law school at Western and at Columbia
University in 1981, the late Murray Fraser, first dean of the then-new UVic
Faculty of Law, lured Jamie to Victoria. Despite hailing from the Centre of
the Universe, Jamie did not seem to have been tainted too much by his
Toronto roots. Indeed, it was the idea of living in a new part of the country
and being part of a new law school that had appealed to Jamie’s sense of