Climate Resilience: The 23rd Annual Business and Law Conference

Centre News

Climate Resilience: The 23rd Annual Business and Law Conference

By: Rachel C. Summers & Cameron Teschuk, JD/MBAs’2021, Conference Co-Chairs, JD/MBA Students’ Association 


Rachel Summers & Cameron Teschuk

TORONTO, February 7, 2020 — Each year the JD/MBA Students’ Association (JMSA) at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business hosts an Annual Business and Law Conference that addresses prominent themes and issues at the intersection of law, business, and public policy. The Conference is a celebration and a learning platform that brings together students, alumni, and industry professionals working in Toronto’s legal and business communities.

This year, a record-breaking number of students attended the 23rd Annual Business and Law Conference: Climate ResilienceThe focus of the conference was the impact of climate change on the business and legal industries.  More specifically, conference presentations focused on climate change and corporate decision making as it pertains to sustainable investing and corporate governance.  The conference took place as news headlines increasingly reflected the financial sector’s shift towards considering the impacts of climate change and other ESG factors in making key investment decisions.

The day began with opening remarks about the conference by the JMSA Conference Co-Chairs Rachel Summers and Cameron Teschuk, followed by an opening address from Edward J. Waitzer on behalf of Osgoode Hall Law School.

James O’Sullivan & Deszo Horvath

The Dean of the Schulich School of Business, Deszo Horvath, provided further opening remarks and presented the 2018 Hennick Centre Medal for Career Achievement to James O’Sullivan.  This medal is awarded to a business and law graduate who has earned international recognition within the business and legal communities.  During his address James provided insightful remarks to the conference attendees and shared lessons learned from his distinguished career that has involved roles in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, finance, asset management, Canadian banking, and strategy.  His honoured guests included his wife Lucie and two sons, Liam and Colin.

Following the opening remarks, the conference agenda proceeded with panel discussions that incorporated both business and legal perspectives.  The first panel focused on sustainable investment strategies in Canadian capital markets.  It was comprised of experts from Canada’s major pension funds and asset managers, as well as prominent academics and leading lawyers. The discussion explored how participants in Canada’s debt and equity capital markets are implementing sustainable investment strategies in order to mitigate climate change-related risks.

Following the first panel, the attendees enjoyed a coffee break and mingling before the second panel began.  This panel focused on corporate governance strategies in response to climate change-related risks and opportunities.  Panelists included associates and partners from Bay Street law firms and advisors from consulting firms specializing in climate risk strategy.

Of significance to the programming of the conference this year, Peter Macdonald presented a special plaque to Ed Waitzer for his outstanding contributions to the two schools.  Ed spoke about his experience as Co-Director of the JD/MBA program, provided insights from his leading academic publications on the topic of corporate governance, and delivered valuable remarks to the student attendees about their future careers.

Ed Waitzer, Sam Zhu, & Peter Macdonald

The special acknowledgements continued with the presentation of the Hennick Centre Medal for Academic Excellence.  Each year, this medal is awarded to the top graduating student of the JD/MBA program with the highest cumulative GPA.  The 2019 Medal was awarded to Sam Q. Zhu who is currently pursuing a career in corporate and securities law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in Toronto.

The final and highly anticipated agenda item was the keynote address by three executives from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). The address was delivered in an informal, fire-side style chat that incorporated many questions from an enthusiastic and curious audience. The chat focused on the mandate of the CIB and how climate change considerations are factored into CIB’s investment-related decisions.

Thank you to our sponsors, panelists, moderators, and attendees.  For the fourth year in a row, Thomson Reuters (our Platinum Sponsor) hosted us at 333 Bay Street and supported the event logistics. Their support allowed the JMSA to focus on securing top speakers and ensuring that the panels ran smoothly.

The success of the conference was the result of months of careful planning, which was significantly aided by Ed Waitzer and Peter Macdonald, and the support of the Hennick Centre for Business and Law.

The 2019-20 JMSA Executive Team

The JD/MBA Students’ Association sincerely thanks everyone involved in making this Conference a great success.  We hope to see everyone back next year for another great event!