The Cowan Internship is an apt tribute to the former Chief Justice, a man who gave so much during his lifetime. It honours his memory by keeping alive his dedication to the cause of justice through the creation of invaluable opportunities for bright young law students.

The Nova Scotia Judiciary would like to thank the members of the Cowan family for their generosity and foresight and the Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law for involving the Nova Scotia Courts in the tutoring of the lawyers and Judges of tomorrow.

How the Program Works

The student selected each year will serve the internship during the summer, following the student's second year in law school.

The Intern will work under the direction of the Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal or their designate.

The Intern's research project will be assigned by the Chief Justice from the recommendations submitted by the Justices of the Court of Appeal.

In appropriate circumstances, the Chief Justice may also consider projects submitted by Justices of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The assignments will focus on legal issues outside of normal caseload which are determined to be of current or future interest to the Courts.

From left to right:

Philip Saunders, Former Dean of Schulich School of Law

Dr. Joan Backman, Gordon S. Cowan's Daughter

Lieutenant (Navy) Mike Madden, First Cowan Intern (2009)

The Hon. Michael MacDonald, Retired Chief Justice of Nova Scotia

Senator James Cowan, Gordon S. Cowan's Son


The Gordon Stewart Cowan Internship will be advertised in January of each year. Recipients will be chosen, upon application, by a committee comprised of the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia or his designate, the Dean and the Associate Dean-Academic of the Schulich School of Law.


Former Chief Justice Gordon S. Cowan

The Honourable Gordon Stewart Cowan was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1911. He attended what is now known as Memorial University and then Dalhousie Law School. He graduated from Dal as the gold medalist in 1932 and was admitted to the Bar of Nova Scotia. The following year, he went on to Oxford University as Newfoundland’s Rhodes Scholar and graduated from Oxford with First Class Honours in Jurisprudence. Gordon Cowan lectured in Law at Dalhousie University and the University of Manitoba before entering private practice in Halifax in 1941 with what is now the law firm of Stewart McKelvey and became a partner in that firm in 1943.

Appointed a Judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in 1966, he became Chief Justice of the Trial Division in 1967 and served in that position until his retirement in 1981. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985 in recognition of his work in preparing Nova Scotia’s Judicature Act and the establishment of the Canadian Judicial Council.

He was the recipient of honorary degrees from Dalhousie University and Acadia University as well as the Atlantic School of Theology (of which he was founding Chairman). He was extensively involved throughout his career in a number of other local, provincial and national organizations.

The former Chief Justice passed away at his home in Halifax on June 11, 1988.