Iranian lawyers and law students got together last week for a networking event in downtown Toronto, demonstrating the growing influence of their community within Canada’s legal community.
“When I first got into law school and then got called, there was only a handful of Iranians around who were in the legal profession,” said event organizer Atoosa Mahdavian, a partner and member of host firm Aird & Berlis LLP’s student recruitment committee. “Today there are many, many men and women [of Iranian background] that are going into the profession, and so I thought that it would be a really good idea to reach out to them.”
Behrouz Amouzgar, an articling student at Gardiner Roberts LLP, says many of the students he met at the May 26 reception had no idea they had so many Iranian peers in the profession. Many were hoping to develop mentorship relationships with experienced lawyers through the event.
“Many of them at the early stages of their career require advice and need guidance, just to know how they can move on to the next stages,” explained Amouzgar, who helped Mahdavian organize the event, along with Gardiner Roberts associate Babak Nahiddi.
“I’m an articling student, soon to be a lawyer, but in terms of confidence, I always feel that somebody that’s a couple of years ahead of me has a lot of good tips to tell me how I become a partner in a firm.”
It can be particularly useful, said Aird & Berlis articling student Alyssa Keon, when young lawyers can share a similar cultural background with a mentor.
“People from the same community, know you better,” said Keon, who founded the Persian Law Society at the University of Windsor.
“They have the same background, the same establishment. So starting off of that there are some things you don’t have to explain, it’s just known. It makes it a little bit easier to move forward.”
Mahdavian expected about 70 law students and lawyers to come out for the event. Attendees were asked to complete a questionnaire to gauge interest in future initiatives and events for members of the Iranian legal community.
“It is really important to not just have the one event and then leave it,” she said. “So definitely that is of interest to me, but I haven’t made any decisions, and I think a lot of it will depend on the kind of response we get.”