Man of law: Peter Sankof
The academic, law school life of Peter Sankoff, BA 92, has taken him around the world and earned him a number of awards. Yet the professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law says studying broadcast journalism at Concordia more than 20 years ago played a key role in his career. “Mostly, I learned how to write,” says Sankoff. “It taught me a great deal about how to communicate with people. Even now I talk about my Concordia experience all the time.”
When Sankoff was earning his BA, broadcast journalism was a joint degree between the Department of Communication Studies and Department of Journalism. Because of that, he says, “I learned a great deal about communication theory.” Years later, Sankoff uses both the theory of communication and practical application skills to transmit information about difficult concepts to law students and the public. He relies on his Concordia training to create videos that explain complex concepts in “unique and innovative ways” that people are able to more easily understand and re-member, he says.
After graduating from Concordia in 1992, Sankoff stayed at his alma mater as a teaching assistant for a year be-fore heading into law school. He earned his JD (Juris Doctor) at the University of Toronto and then worked as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Canada for a year and as counsel in the federal Department of Justice for another two years. From there, he headed to the other side of the world to become a lecturer at New Zealand’s University of Auckland. He eventually came back to Canada to earn his LLM (Master of Laws) at York University.
Sankoff became a full professor at the University of Alberta in 2012. Over the years he has been a visiting professor to several schools, including the University of Haifa in Israel in 2008, the University of Melbourne in 2009 and Niigata University in Japan in 2012.
Throughout his career, Sankoff has also garnered a series of awards, grants and recognition. Most recently, he earned the Information Technology Innovation Award from the University of Alberta in 2014. He has also written, edited or co-edited eight books and a gamut of articles.
“I work in a few areas of speciality, mostly on criminal justice issues. I have a side interest in the relationship between animals and the law, where I look at the way the law governs the relationship between humans and non-humans,” says Sankoff. “I am interested in the way animals are treated by humans and in exposing where the law supposedly protects animals, but really allows us to treat them as we want.”