If you’re looking to navigate a bureaucracy—whether that’s a court, a particular law, a government department, or some company—pick the person whose hobby is understanding bureaucracies that no longer exist and whose members are long-since dead. Ferreting out the details of a bureaucracy that still exists isn’t a cinch, but the precision with which Adam Strömbergsson-DeNora conducts his historical inquiries serves him in good stead.
Adam is passionate about bureaucracies because they are the ultimate puzzle. The layers of systems, rules, and people that create bureaucracies are convenient for typical requests and regular procedures. He’s interested in the story of those who run afoul of the norm. Odd requests or lacunae that trigger bureaucratic meltdowns need to be sorted with a minimum fuss.
Adam is licensing to work as a lawyer. He is also a crack researcher with experience writing short and long works of non-fiction. The personal research on which he is always chipping away focuses on intellectual and legal history. Seventeenth-century English intellectual and legal history is particularly dear to him (and he has been known to say ‘I’m going to bring the seventeenth-century back into style’).
The approach that he deploys regardless of the period in which he is working requires a mastery of context to tell a strong story. ‘Context’ doesn’t mean ad hoc knowledge about specific issues. He is always reading and always expanding his horizons. The general knowledge amassed with this hobby gives him a great store from which to draw concepts and facts that contextualize a problem.
There is one problem with which he am particularly interested: conscience, or, if you prefer a legal term, equity. His doctoral studies at Carleton University focus on narrating the story of freedom of conscience as this concept is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. True to form, he’s taking the long view, going back to texts derived from Antiquity and working his way to the present. So far, so theoretical: He’s applying whatever definition results from my study to judges and arbitrators. His goal is to understand and push the limits of dispute resolution.
You’ll note by perusing Adam’s publications that this interest in conscience and equity has been building over the past six years. His first book, Warring Sovereignties, examined an instance of conflict that pitted religious and secular consciences against one another. The journal articles that he’s put out also touch on issues related to conscience. One deals with the political implications of love in Andrew Marvell’s poetry. Another describes the legal jurisdiction of university visitors. If you want to learn about an obscure bureaucratic feature of charitable corporations, check visitors out.
When he’s not reading or writing, Adam is learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft. Aviation has been an interest since he was a young kipper, and he finally got the privilege to learn how to fly at his local flying club. He’s also adopted an interest diametrically opposed to aviation: brewing beer. He rounds out his time keeping house with a delightfully supportive partner, a dog, Whiskey, and a cat, Reginald.
JD/LLB, University of Ottawa (2021)
MA, English Literature, University of Ottawa.
Adam Strömbergsson-DeNora. The Rhetoric of Nature: Marvell and the Longinian Sublime (MA Thesis, June 4, 2018)
Revised international treaties and model treaties; provided advice regarding treaties and treaty law to colleagues and management.
Drafted legislation and amendments to bills; reviewed Senate contracts, including requests for proposals; responded to questions regarding parliamentary law and procedure.
Wrote news articles on developing issues in the 3D printing / additive manufacturing industry. Pursuing stories for network by conducting interviews and in-depth research.
Researched machine learning and artificial intelligence systems. Prepared research memorandum describing operation of machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems in pubic law context.
Conducted legal research for lawyers and draft memoranda of law. Reviewed collective agreements and case law in a labour and employment context, with particular focus on aviation sector.
Taught grammar and graded undergraduate essays. Assisted students with their papers, including heavy copy-editing.
Conducted legal research regarding parliamentary privileges of the Senate. Reviewed legislation in preparation for re-introduction of bills in Parliament.
Conducted exploratory scoping research on legal recognition of non-religious beliefs. Drafted scoping report covering case law, academic literature, and public interest pieces.
Drafted by-laws for approval by union membership and executive committee. Managed ten executives and four employees; negotiated a first collective agreement.
Critiqued university government by engaging in dialogue with upper administration. Member of the following committees:
- Executive Committee (Sept. 2016 – Apr. 2017)
- Vice-President, Research, Selection Committee (Dec. 2016 – Jan. 2018)
Member of the following committees:
- Executive Committee (Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2014)
- Faculty of Arts Council (Jan. 2014 – Apr. 2016)
- Senate Committee on Teaching and Teching Evaluation (Dec. 2015 – Dec. 2016)
- President Selection Committee (June 2014 – June 2015)
Defined the evolution of the electoral franchise under the Canada Elections Act from 1873-1929. Interacted frequently with Senate administration on procedural and administrative business
In-depth analysis of emerging issues
Tailored for businesses, institutions, and academic researchers, as needed.
Legal / Institutional histories
Deep dives into your company or firm and its place in the world.
Current events / News
Serving cold looks at issues of the day.
See my publications.
Works and Publications
Adam Strömbergsson-DeNora published this first history of the University of Ottawa written by a non-Catholic midway through his law degree. The book explores the battle between religious and non-secular cultures for control of the university in the 1960s. Canon law, with particular emphasis on Oblate norms, was a clear expression of Catholic sovereignty in the university. While this sovereignty conditioned Oblate governance choices, the Government of Ontario became increasingly keen on reforming the University of Ottawa into a non-denominational corporation. Government pressure was coupled with shifting cultural expectations of the university’s social role, while an increasingly lay professorate helped put pressure on the Oblates from within. These twin pressures for removing religious control irked the Oblates, who put up stiff resistance, betraying their reticence to the liberalization of higher education. While the government valued social policy, the Oblates focused on educating individuals. Although the Oblates ultimately lost, history is as relevant as ever, and this book comes at a time when social planning is becoming increasingly prevalent within universities.
4:2 Marvell Studies (2019).
By adducing a reading of Diotima’s Ladder of Love, expressed in the Symposium, Marvell’s mower poems that we can date to the 1650s and his ‘Definition of Love’ seem to be deeply politicized works. They do not, however, appear to take deeply political positions. They situate their speakers and characters in terms comparable to the Ladder of Love. In so doing, they show a Christian humanist use of love that accounts for Marvell’s neutral wit. Our poet created mirrors for gentry in republican England that encouraged the creation and maintenance of networks based on love. His focus moves away from national politics toward county life and the need to move past the parliamentary-royalist divide. In short, by reading these four works beside the Ladder of Love, we better understand how Marvell manages to be political without clearly expressing his religious or political positions.
36 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice (2019)
Visitors, an office in charitable corporations that occupies the position of the Superior Court in all matters pertaining to the charity, are a forgotten area of law in Canada. This article resurrects the jurisdiction by explaining its utility for university corporations. Visitors are private courts of appeal from university decisions. They are empowered to adjudicate academic as well as legal disputes relating to relationships between the university, its officers, its professors, and its students. The article lays out the private law origins of the office and contrasts this approach with the administrative law model more recently in vogue. The administrative law approach to visitation has, over the course of the twentieth century, eroded the jurisdiction, yet it appears from Canadian practice that the jurisdiction remains eminently useful across the country. The article details just how the visitor’s office has been used in Canadian universities beginning in 1803 going up to 1992. In so doing, the office’s strong points as well as its weaknesses are discussed.
4 The Conscious Lawyer (October 2018)
A short piece extrapolating from a close reading of several passages from Aristotle’s Poetics. It suggests that a judge’s role is that of a poet representing a slice of reality rather than a rhetorician arguing for a specific outcome. This slight shift in emphasis has wide implications for law and religion because it better situates judges as cultural figures with correspondingly cultural responsibilities.