Firms extend funding to University of Toronto law school’s Black Future Lawyers program

Firms will work together to offer program’s students opportunities like seminars and sessions

Firms extend funding to University of Toronto law school’s Black Future Lawyers program

A new partnership of 14 Canadian firms has announced a 10-year combined financial commitment of $1.75 million to the Black Future Lawyers, a University of Toronto Faculty of Law program aiming to encourage Black students to attend law school.

With this financial commitment, the firms seek to enable the program to accelerate the achievement of its goals, including the establishment of chapters at universities across the country, and to assist in tackling the issue of Black students encountering systemic challenges that stop them from accessing professional school education.

The firms will also work together to offer the program’s students opportunities such as regular seminars and sessions educating them about the priorities and daily realities of working lawyers, about substantive legal topics and about professionalism topics like building networks and improving presentation skills.

The firms: Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Dentons, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Goodmans LLP, Gowling WLG, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, McMillan LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Stikeman Elliott LLP and Torys LLP will extend operational funding that aims to equip the law school’s program with the stability and security it requires.

The program, which was first announced in November 2019 and established in  January 2020 as a collaboration between the law school, its Black Law Students’ Association, members of the law school’s alumni community and the broader legal profession, aims to support Black aspiring law students by extending engagement opportunities, mentoring programs, workshops and an annual conference.

“It’s important that we have a long-term vision for the program that will ultimately help build a consistently strong number of Black students enrolling in law,” said Jutta Brunnée, dean of the law school.

The program, which opened its application stream this fall, has so far registered over 380 Black undergraduate students and has matched over 130 students with Black-identifying lawyer-mentors. Organizations such as Scotiabank, which committed $60,000 in funding, and La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso have also supported the program.

“It means so much to individuals like me who at one point didn't think law school was a viable pathway,” said Ikran Jama, undergraduate student and one of two Rhodes Scholars from the University of Toronto, in the news release.

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