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Kim Westfall-Connor blazes her own trail in health law

April 18, 2024


Kim Westfall-Connor has never been afraid to blaze her own trail. After becoming the first member of her family to attend university, she qualified as a registered massage therapist (RMT), before carving out a unique career for herself in health law that includes elements of healthcare governance, professional discipline adjudication and teaching.  

“What each of those areas have in common is a sense of public service and upholding the public interest,” says Westfall-Connor, a recent graduate of OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Health Law. “It’s not a very traditional path for an RMT, but it has been wonderful. I’ve managed to meld my passions together.”

Before discovering a way to combine her interests, Westfall-Connor found herself pulled in two different directions during the formative days of her career.

Initially drawn to the legal profession, Westfall-Connor earned a B.A. in Law and Society at York University, but opted against applying to law school. Instead, she obtained her massage therapy licence and opened her own clinic in 2006.   

“I honestly didn’t see a lot of women represented in the areas of constitutional and public law that I was interested in, so I decided to go in a different direction. I wanted to help people and massage therapy seemed like a good fit,” she explains.

After running her own practice as an RMT for a number of years, Westfall-Connor’s undergraduate legal background helped earn her an invitation to serve on the discipline committee of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO). In the intervening period, the clinical portion of her practice has retreated into the background as she took on increasing levels of responsibility at the college, first as a board member and later as chair of the board for a three-year term ending in 2023.

By the time Westfall-Connor enrolled in Osgoode’s part-time Health Law LLM program, she already had an extensive history with the institution, having completed a number of continuing legal education programs aimed at boosting her professional discipline adjudication skills, including the Osgoode Certificate in Health Law

“I was getting more complex cases and as a non-lawyer, I thought it would be a good idea to improve my education. I loved the certificate course, so the Health Law LLM seemed like a natural fit,” Westfall-Connor says, adding that the program lived up to expectations.

“First and foremost, what I loved about the program were the people: incredibly smart professionals doing important work as registrars, adjudicators, teachers and lawyers,” she says. “I really miss my time at Osgoode: not the workload, but the conversations and debates. I was at the CMTO at the time, so it was fantastic to have these energized, vigorous, engaging discussions about modern governance.”

And the program had a lasting effect on Westfall-Connor, prompting her to extend her adjudication practice beyond the healthcare field in roles at both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Ontario College of Teachers.

“I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to apply for the Human Rights Tribunal appointment if it had not been for the LLM,” she says.

More recently, Westfall-Connor has expanded her relationship with Osgoode even further, returning this time as an instructor on the faculty of the Osgoode Certificate in Professional Regulation and Discipline in the Ontario Health Care Sector. “It’s a full-circle moment for me. I’m very grateful,” she says.

Want to learn more about the Professional LLM in Health Law? Sign up for an Information Session!