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Faculty of Law
UNB Fredericton

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Benjamin Perryman, Jason MacLean and Sarah-jane Nussbaum join UNB Law

UNB Law is continuing to renew its full-time faculty complement, welcoming three new full-time faculty members: Benjamin Perryman, who joined UNB this past January, Jason MacLean, who joins UNB in July 2020, and Sarah-jane Nussbaum, who starts in July 2021.

Benjamin Perryman

“What drew me to UNB is the law school community and its core value of collegiality,” said Ben. “My first semester here reinforced this impression. Administrative staff answered my many questions and helped get my office set up. Students provided encouragement and constructive feedback. Faculty (current and emeritus) offered their experience and guidance as I started teaching.” 

Ben holds an LLM (Yale), JD (Osgoode Hall), MDE (Development Economics) (Dalhousie), and BSc (UBC). He is a doctoral candidate at Yale Law School, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and Trudeau Scholar.

Ben taught Constitutional Law and Conflict of Laws during his first academic year with the faculty.

“I’m not an academic purist. I love litigation and seeing law positively impact the lives of clients. Knowing full well that I can’t do everything, I had reservations about focusing primarily on teaching and research.”

Ben’s reservations were quickly put to rest—his decision to pursue legal academia was affirmed early on in his first term. 

“It was a rather ordinary day. In the morning, I worked through the Supreme Court of Canada’s overhaul of administrative law in Vavilov; in the afternoon, I engaged with a number of students who came by my office to chat about constitutional law; and I ended the day happy as a clam. Some decisions in life have to be experienced to know that they’re the right. What was affirming about this particular day was that it was ordinary and the ordinary felt wonderful.”

Ben’s research focuses on the connection between happiness and constitutional law.

“This is not completely uncharted territory—think of Jeremy Bentham or the ‘pursuit of happiness’ in the US Declaration of Independence—and contrary to many people’s intuitions, happiness is possible to both define and measure. In fact, over the past twenty years, there has been an explosion of happiness research emerging primarily from the fields of behavioral economics, positive psychology, and neuroscience.”

Ben’s research applies this “science of happiness” approach to constitutional decision-making.

“I explore how the measurement of subjective well-being can be used to describe the experience of people and groups that would not otherwise be obvious or intuitive to many judges (and counsel). This has implications for Charter cases that regularly turn on how the individual in question experienced state interference in their life.”

Over the summer, Ben will be working on a sub-project that applies this happiness framework to “tent cities” and the right to housing. “Tent cities” are unauthorized encampments on municipal/provincial property that are created and occupied by people who are homeless.

“When governments attempt to shut ‘tent cities’ down, courts are often engaged in the pursuit of injunctive relief. The research will ask if we can observe and measure subjective well-being perspectives in the numerous affidavits that are regularly placed before judges on such motions.”

Before joining the Faculty of Law, Ben taught at the Schulich School of Law and Saint Mary’s University, practised in the area of human rights law, and clerked at the Federal Court (Canada) and Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Ben is a human rights adjudicator and is called to the bars of Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Jason MacLean

“The faculty, staff, and students are what drew me to UNB,” says Jason MacLean. “In 2019, I participated in the Law of Obligations conference, organized by my old Supreme Court of Canada clerkmate Professor Hilary Young. I was struck by the genuine collegiality and energy at UNB Law. I remember thinking that this is the kind of place where I want to come to work every day!”

Jason received his joint BCL/LLB from McGill in 2006 before clerking at the Supreme Court of Canada for Madame Justice Marie Deschamps. He is currently completing his PhD dissertation, Essays on the Law and Politics of Canada’s Climate Policy, at the University of Alberta. 

Jason is a staunch supporter of the fight to stop climate change. He is passionate about environmental protection and promoting sustainability. Much of his research focuses on environmental law, natural resources law, climate change and energy policy, and sustainability pathways and co-benefits. 

“I’m interested in figuring out how to combat climate change and achieve sustainability locally and globally. At UNB, I’d like to help implement the University’s new Climate Action Plan, which, if done right, can become a policy model for how other institutions and jurisdictions can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient. I’d also love the opportunity to collaborate with folks working on climate action and sustainability at both the municipal and provincial levels.”

Jason brings enthusiasm to the classroom and hopes to capitalize on UNB’s commitment to experiential learning.

“I am most looking forward to getting to know and working with the students. I’m really committed to integrating my teaching and my research as much as possible. A big part of that involves collaborating with students on “research-in-action” projects that seek solutions to real-world problems. It’s not only an effective way to teach and learn, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Before joining the UNB, he served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law, and as an associate member of the School of Environment and Sustainability. He taught courses in Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Law, International Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Property and Contracts.

Prior to entering academia, Jason practised corporate and commercial litigation at Osler, Hoskin, & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, and international commercial arbitration at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York and Paris.

Sarah-jane Nussbaum

“I appreciated UNB Law’s warm and welcoming energy. I was drawn to the Faculty’s research strengths in areas including feminist theory, legal history, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. As well, I was attracted to UNB Law’s incredibly well-respected reputation in teaching and to the Faculty’s interests in nurturing student wellness and offering practice-oriented learning opportunities.”

In 2011, Sarah-jane received her BA in Linguistics with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan, College of Arts & Science. She graduated with her JD with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan, College of Law in 2014, where she was awarded the Law Society of Saskatchewan Gold Medal, before clerking at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. She was called to the Saskatchewan Bar in June 2015 and completed her LLM from the University of Cambridge the following year with the support of the Right Honourable Paul Martin Sr. Scholarship. Sarah-jane’s research interests include criminal law and theory, relational theory, feminist theory, and legal education.

Sarah-jane is currently a PhD candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her dissertation, Responsibility, Risk, and Social Accountability: Tensions and Connections in Canadian Criminal Law, examines responsibility, risk, and social context in Canadian criminal law by examining sentencing judgments.

“Judicial responsibility analyses have moved away from depicting people as independent and autonomous beings and towards depicting people as socially situated beings—as individuals who exercise a range of cognitive and mental abilities and as individuals whose lives have been affected by patterns of discrimination, colonialism, violence, and oppression. By comparison, sentencing law has been slower to recognize the social dimensions of risk, even though risk analyses often turn on the very factors that make people less individually blameworthy.” 

Sarah-jane draws on relational theory and critical criminology to investigate how risk analyses exacerbate rather than redress the oppression that marginalized people face.

Sarah-jane plans to pursue research relating to portrayals of mothers in sentencing law, evidence of prison conditions in sentencing judgments, and teaching about trauma in criminal law classrooms. She is most looking forward to meeting and teaching UNB Law students and hopes to mirror the positive impact made by her law school professors.

“Members of the UNB Law Faculty rave about their students, and I feel honoured to join the community. I have been immersed in research and writing over the last few years, and I’m excited to begin teaching. Teachers have had an immense impact on my life—inspiring me to pursue graduate studies, to cultivate my own voice, and to think creatively and reflectively. I will similarly strive to support students in pursuing their goals. I enjoy working with people and learning from others, and I look forward to listening, and being responsive, to students’ diverse interests, experiences, and perspectives.”


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