Q: Is it true that you were a wunderkid?
Bryan: On the former prodigy front, yes, I skipped three grades and graduated high school at the age of 16. After attending College for two years studying physics, I entered law school at the age of 18. I graduated law school at 21. I graduated from Yale at 22 with a Master of Laws (LL.M.). And I started teaching full time at 24.
Q: That’s incredible. Where were your early years spent?
Bryan: I was born and spent my early years in Regina Saskatchewan, where there was only the tiniest of Jewish communities. I had almost no Jewish education as a child and learned almost everything I know abut it over many years of self-study.
Q: Does ‘Good Will Hunting’ mean anything to you?
Bryan: I wish. Will had some issues, but he was magnetic, looked like Matt Damon, was surrounded by close friends who fully shared his cultural background, and everything intellectual came to him effortlessly. My experience? Well, not likely precisely anyone’s, I guess, but think of some combination of young Kafka, young Duckman, young Ecclesiastes. I guess I embodied some elements of all of the brothers Karamazov, although I wish I had been way more Dmitri, or perhaps none of them.
Q: Is it true that you created a start up with Hebrew University?
Bryan: Yes, I started a summer program in partnership with Hebrew University (Mishpatim) focusing on the laws relating to Israel as the start-up nation, and it became the most subscribed to summer program for Canadian law students reaching a peak of 50 students from half a dozen Canadian law schools. My “tradition, light, hope” model embodies and builds on that experience.
Q: You’ve been engaged in writing for several Law Journals. Tell us a little about that.
Bryan: I wrote in about twenty areas as a legal scholar. After numerous opportunities presented, I accepted the role as Senior Editor of the Manitoba Law Journal, which became the most prolific Law Journal in Canada (see “Visualizing the Landscape of Canadian Law Journals“). By some metrics, including awards and rankings from the SSHRC, the top Canadian granting agency, the Manitoba Law Journal is considered among the best in Canada.
Q: Can you tell us about some of the many awards you’ve received?
Bryan: We’re honored to be included amongst the most prolific scholars in the hundred year history of my law school. One of the more special honors I received – I was the inaugural winner of the highest teaching award at my law school – The Barney Sneiderman Award for Teaching Excellence, named after a close friend of mine who passed away far too young.
Q: What kind of role have you played in helping Indigenous communities in Canada?
Bryan: I pioneered the teaching of Indigenous oral history at my law school while working for several Indigenous organizations. I became a leader to introduce Indigenous content to the law school curriculum, including introducing oral history methodology (noted here: https://news.umanitoba.ca/an-indigenous-oral-history-reader-moves-law-student-training-towards-reconciliation). Over the years, I have often spoken about the resonances between the Jewish experience and the Canadian Indigenous experience in Canada. I appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of Canada’s national organization in a number of cases, and worked for many years as an advisor to help finally establish an independent claims tribunal.
Q: We understand that you are considered a pretty decent professor. Tell us about that.
Bryan: You always try to teach with integrity, rather than merely to achieve popularity, but actually, I have had mostly appreciative feedback over the years.
AW😎 AWESOME | Mar 25th, 2022
For Credit: Yes Attendance: Mandatory Would Take Again: Yes Textbook: Yes
“Prof. Schwartz makes difficult material interesting and accessible. I took Oral history and Mishpatem- literally covering pre written culture to start up entrepreneurs. Very few profs can cover this range of topics. Prof. Schwartz used guest speakers and seminars, incorporating different views and I always felt my opinions were valued. Thanks!”
Later in your career, when students ask themselves “what’s the problem here,, him or me?” they start to give you the benefit of the doubt.