University lacrosse has grown tremendously the last two decades. So when the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) recognized a need to redraft the league’s constitution, they called on the Sport Solution Clinic at The University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law.
The Sport Solution clinic provides Canadian Olympic, Paralympic and national team athletes aid in resolving their sports-related legal issues. The clinic, founded in 1996 as a joint program between Athletes Canada and the Faculty of Law, is the only program of its kind in North America.
CUFLA commissioner Ryan McGrath approached the Sport Solution Clinic in Fall 2010. Law students Jonathon Barnett and Daniel Strickland agreed to take on the project.
“It was a challenging task,” Barnett says. “The league’s constitution, as it currently stood, had not faced major review since it was drafted nearly 20 years ago.”
To help overcome the large volume of work, the clinic engaged more than 20 first-year volunteers. Volunteer case manager David Vaughan, an alumnus of the university lacrosse league, joined the project as a co-chair with Strickland.
“The lacrosse project allowed more students to get involved in something quite unique to the school,” Strickland says. “Drafting the constitution of a sports league had practical applications for law students. The work we did has elements of contract and statutory interpretation.”
Men’s lacrosse at the university level is not an officially sanctioned sport under the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), the governing body for inter-university athletics in Ontario. Therefore established independently from the OUA, the CUFLA has grown from three teams in 1984 to 12 teams across Ontario and Quebec in 2010. The league has become the model for participatory inter-university athletics across the nation.
At the CUFLA annual general meeting in early April, Strickland and Vaughan delivered the first draft of the constitution to league membership. “The initial feedback we have received has been terrific,” Vaughan says.
The league hopes to adopt the new constitution at the next annual general meeting in April 2012.