Mentorship can help address inequality, increase retention of women in law
The Women’s Legal Mentorship Program (WLMP) has formally established the first truly national peer mentoring program for female law students in Canada, which seeks to help them connect with future colleagues and build their professional network.
The free program, launched in the week of Sept. 18, aims to offer female law students currently enrolled in a Canadian law school the opportunity to learn practical insights from peer mentors from other provinces who know the regulatory requirements to practise in that jurisdiction.
“Students are increasingly entering practice in different jurisdictions than where they went to school,” said Aimee Dezeure, a third-year law student at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, in a news release from the WLMP.
“A female law student studying in British Columbia can particularly benefit from working with a peer mentor in Ontario if they are interested in switching jurisdictions and practising law in another province,” said Aria Kamal, JD candidate at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, in the release.
Dezeure and Kamal are virtual events co-leads for the WLMP national student program.
Implementing a national peer mentoring program has been considered difficult because law schools are different from one another, said the WLMP in the news release. Before the launch, peer mentoring in law schools has focused on helping students earn their degree, but this traditional understanding of peer mentoring has limited the options of law students and has failed to reflect the present reality of many law school graduates, the WLMP said in its statement.
With the launch of the program, the WLMP has advanced its efforts to assist female law students in developing a mentoring support system that will help them throughout their legal careers. Applications closed on Sept. 25.
According to the WLMP’s website, its integrative intersectional feminist mentorship programming opens its mentorship matching in-takes thrice annually: spring/summer, fall and winter. Interested individuals who miss an in-take period can pre-register for the next.
A lawyer who is licensed in Canada and who self-identifies as a woman may apply to mentor a WLMP law student member by submitting a membership form and a legal mentor application form. Applicants should explain what they are seeking in a mentee in order to assist WLMP in finding a match.
Mentorship can help to create lasting change in the Canadian legal profession, address inequality, and increase the retention of all self-identifying women in the law, the WLMP said on its website.