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LETTER: In defence of Professor Myles McLellan

Disbarred lawyer who worked as a part-time instructor for eight years at Algoma University 'is an outstanding teacher who cares about his students,' letter writer says
20200301-Algoma University, winter, stock-DT-02
Algoma University file photo

SooToday received the following letter to the editor in response to an article about Dr. Myles McLellan, a former Algoma University professor who recently lost his fight to be reinstated as a lawyer by the Law Society of Ontario. McLellan was disbarred in 2009 amid allegations of misconduct, including fraud and forgery, which led to multiple criminal convictions.

While reading the November 8, 2023 article — “How did a convicted fraudster end up teaching law at Algoma University?” — I was immensely disappointed. What led up to Dr. Myles McLellan’s criminal fraud conviction, ban on practicing law in Ontario and local interviews are described, yet none of the “young impressionable students” were even given a whisper in this story. I would like to give voice to answering the headline.

As a recent graduate from the Law and Justice program at Algoma University, I was privileged to have Dr. McLellan as a professor for multiple courses. His lectures always challenged us to question, read, read more, and discuss. Dr. McLellan’s knowledge of the law is extensive and his ability to share it in a way that students could understand was unparalleled; this is vital, but his passion for teaching law and justice is what translated into thought-provoking lectures that ignited students' interest. Like most graduates, I have experienced many a lecture where regurgitated information is transmitted.

Dr. McLellan had a positive impact on me as an adult student; he went to great lengths opening our minds to experiences and fresh perspectives on the law, organizing field trips and inviting guests from law and law enforcement fields. He also provided opportunities for us to have placements in places like the Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Anishinabek Police Service, the Crown Attorney’s office (where I was placed upon request) and many more; all invaluable experiences. I experienced some of Dr. McLellan’s dedication to each student personally. The process of applying to Law school is daunting and lengthy, and he helped me, like so many other students, every step of the way, writing a letter of recommendation, devoting time to ensure I would have the best chance of success after graduating. I was accepted at schools I applied to and owe him a sincere thank you for helping me navigate in new territories, and for contacting me through student email after graduating Algoma to see how my law school venture was going.

Dr. McLellan was always respectful, no question was ever considered “dumb” or “off the table," taking the time until we understood. As a student, I (like many others), found our voice through his encouragement and he used personal time to help students any way he could. Above all, Dr. McLellan did the one thing I found invaluable. He cared.

At the core, vital information about Dr. McLellan while at Algoma U was not presented. Having served his sentence and having lost so much for his wrongdoings, he is working hard to atone for his actions. Further, Dr. McLellan’s history was known on campus and by administrators.

In my opinion, and in answer to the question posed in the headline, Dr. Myles McLellan was teaching Law and Justice at Algoma University because he knows the law, was qualified, and is an outstanding teacher who cares about his students.

Case closed.

Olivia Chilelli

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