Western Law and Torys LLP create student bursaries for COVID-19 relief

Law School matched money raised by firm

Western Law and Torys LLP create student bursaries for COVID-19 relief
Dean Erika Chamberlain

To help students struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Western Law will offer 30 new bursaries this year, worth $5,000 each.

A total of $400,000 was raised with the help of Torys LLP, to create the Torys LLP Student Support Bursary. Lawyers raised $100,000 individually, which the firm matched and then Western matched the firm’s $200,000 contribution.

According to Statistics Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought “severe declines” in most types of economic activity. Even with businesses reopening, the accommodation and food sectors – where many students work – was sitting at 55 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, said the Stats Canada report which was released Oct. 20.

Western Law Dean Erika Chamberlain told Law Times anticipated students would need help this year.

“We knew that students would probably be facing extra financial hardships in light of COVID-19, with summer employment being limited and family finances being stretched,” Chamberlain says. “We didn’t want students to have to defer their studies or take leaves of absence, so we wanted to provide a boost to our financial aid program.”

Mitch Frazer, partner and chair of the pensions and employment practice at Torys, learned the law school would match the firm’s donations and corralled his colleagues – many of which are Western alumni, says Chamberlain. Partners Gillian Dingle, Adrienne DiPaolo and Janan Paskaran led the drive, along with Frazer, said an announcement from Western.

“Torys has a long-standing affiliation with the law school and we value that relationship,” said Mitch Frazer in the announcement. “This is a critical period in the history of the law school—with students facing financial hardship during this global crisis. There’s no more important time to give back than now and we’re proud to do so.”

“As alumni and as a firm, we are thrilled to partner with Western Law to invest in students and help ease some of the additional uncertainty and stress they are facing in the pandemic,” said DiPaolo.

Aside from the 30 bursaries of $5,000 each, available this year, 5-7 bursaries of the same value will be awarded in following years, says Chamberlain. Students will be automatically considered for the bursary when they apply for financial aid, she says.

“While this is a particularly important time to offer financial aid to law students, this donation will create a permanent endowment to support students in the future. It will help to increase access to legal education for students with financial need,” says Chamberlain.

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