We had very sad this sumer that a labour law giant passed away. Professor Bernie Adell, former Dean of Queens Law School, passed away while visiting his daughter in Japan. Queens University will be holding a memorial service for him on Saturday, September 13 in Kingston, which
sadly I cannot make. Change of Plans: I am going! Hope to see some of you there.
I met Bernie in person for the first time in the Queens’ Law Faculty Lounge back in early 2000’s. I was teaching Labour Law as an adjunct at the time, while completing my law Ph.D in Toronto. Bernie was getting a drink of water. I introduced myself as an ex- labour lawyer trying to forge a second career as a labour law scholar. Of course, Bernie was already a labour law legend by then. I was a complete stranger. Bernie asked what I’ve been working on, not out of politeness, but from genuine interest.
An hour later, Bernie had solicited two of my half written papers for his journals, one for the Queens Law Journal, and the other for the Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal (CLELJ). After the legendary “Bernie-fication” editing process, the QLJ paper on employer bullying received the David Watson Award for contribution to legal scholarship, a recognition for which I’m sure Bernie played no small role. He wrote me around then to tell me he’d used the paper to make a point to his Rabbi.
For the entire time I had the great pleasure to know Bernie, he went out of his way to support me. He invited me, still a grad student, to join the Labour Law Casebook group for which he acted as head editor and zoo-keeper, and had the confidence to assign me the longest chapter in the book, on industrial conflict. He invited me to join him (and Kevin Banks) as editors of CLELJ. When he decided to step down from his role as Graduate Director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s professional LLM in labour and employment law, he recommended to the administrators that I take over for him. I have done so since, though Bernie had already done the heavy lifting, and I have just rode his curtails since.
I saw Bernie at a conference in Barcelona a couple of summers ago, and in the course of small talk at coffee break, a small legal point came up. I mentioned to Bernie some cases I’d read on the point. He nodded thoughtfully, and said he’d have to think about it, before we moved on to other topics. Weeks later, I received a long email from Bernie citing the cases I’d mentioned, and noting others he’d looked up on his own. He’d written a short treatise on the subject on his “spare time” because he was interested, but no doubt too because he thought it might be useful to me at some point in the future if I chose to follow up the topic in future research.
That was Bernie. Endlessly kind. Exceedingly supportive. Boundlessly energetic, right until all to sudden end. I have tried to deal with students in the same patient and supportive manner as Bernie treated me, beginning the moment I interrupted his water break over a decade ago. I cannot say that I always meet that ridiculously high standard. The Canadian and global labour law community has suffered a huge loss. I have lost a great friend.