July 11, 2022
Tyna Mason can’t point to the exact moment when she decided she needed to further her legal education – she can point to plenty of them.
Since 2000, Mason has been legal counsel with British Columbia’s Ministry of the Attorney General, representing the provincial government on a wide variety of constitutional issues, including challenges to provincial laws. But in the past few years, after working on files with similar legal issues, she began to fall into a routine. She wasn’t being challenged the way she once was.
“When more junior colleagues would come to me and ask difficult legal questions,” she says, “I wanted to make sure I knew the answers.”
In 2018, she was one of the lawyers appearing for BC as an intervenor in R. v. Comeau – a federal Supreme Court challenge, launched by a New Brunswick man arguing that he had a constitutional right to transport beer freely across provincial lines.
“That case was about the constitutional limits on provincial authority to regulate interprovincial trade and involved the use of historical expert opinion about the intentions of the Fathers of Confederation,” says Mason. “I just didn’t have the necessary knowledge of the relevant constitutional historical interpretations at the time, and I had to do a lot of research and put in many additional hours…I wanted also to be able to mentor and share knowledge, and expand my own career possibilities.”
Soon after, when Mason’s youngest son graduated from high school and left home, she decided to take this opportunity to finally return to school.
She enrolled in Osgoode’s LLM in Constitutional Law, where she soon found exactly what she’d been looking for (in fact, her very first class covered the Comeau case).
And despite some nerves about returning to school after 25 years, Mason quickly found an environment both welcoming and challenging. She was particularly thrilled to meet Osgoode’s faculty – leading experts combining academic expertise with up-to-the-minute experience as real-world legal practitioners.
The program’s flexibility was also critical to her. She attended her first courses in-person, but also incorporated online learning. The latter option helped her build her studies around her work – located on the other side of the country – and her personal and family life.
Perhaps most valuable of all, however, were the connections with her classmates that she forged both in-person and online.
“Meeting other students, both practitioners in my area and in others, from across the country, was really valuable,” she says. “I’m the chair of the constitutional law section of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association and now I’m able to speak to our members with deeper knowledge about constitutional-law issues that may be relevant to their practice, thanks to the people I’ve met at Osgoode and what I’ve learned from them…it’s been an enriching experience.”
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