Out on Bay career conference this week

Out on Bay Street is an annual career conference that LGBTA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied) students in business and law will not want to miss.

The event started in 2007 as the term project for an MBA marketing course at the Rotman School of Management. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own, recently going through the process of incorporating as a not-for-profit organization.

Initially drawing 70 students from business schools in Toronto, this year’s Out on Bay Street conference, scheduled for Sept. 25 and 26, is expected to attract over 150 students from business schools and law schools across Canada.

The annual two-day career conference not only connects LGBTA students with employers keen to embrace diversity, but also students with each other. For a group that arguably considers itself an “invisible” minority, the conference provides LGBTA students with a tremendous networking opportunity.

While some law schools are lucky enough to have thriving LGBTA groups, others do not. Further, some groups are preoccupied with social justice and/or activism and don’t provide the forum for business-minded law students to meet one another. Out on Bay Street seeks to rectify this.

In addition to networking, Out on Bay Street also gives practising professionals the opportunity to share their skills and experiences with students. For example, LGBT lawyers from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP will be holding professional development workshops.

Osler’s workshop will be on in-firm interviews, and Blakes’ on assertive and persuasive communication skills.

Other firms have been keen to get involved as well: McMillan LLP is presenting a workshop on “How to Succeed at Articling/Summering;” and Rubin Thomlinson LLP, an employment law boutique, will present “Legal Landmines in the Out Workplace,” which discusses employers’ obligations to LGBT employees under the Human Rights Code.

The event features a career fair, with approximately 10 Bay Street firms in attendance, but Law Society of Upper Canada regulations prohibit firms from hiring students outside of specific procedures. Because of this, many firms have chosen to send current students, instead of recruiters, as their representatives.

For law students going through the on-campus-interview process, this is a great opportunity to learn about firms from students currently working there. For students not doing OCIs, it’s similarly a great chance for students to network with peers working on Bay Street, and to learn about what that entails.

Perhaps most exciting is the opportunity for students to get involved with organizing the conference. Having grown substantially in each of the past three years, Out on Bay Street is now in the process of incorporating as a not-for-profit organization, thanks to the pro bono services of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.

This means conference attendees who become members of the new organization will have the opportunity to serve as organizers, executive officers, and even directors. Whether you are a law student or a business student (or both), this is a fantastic and unparalleled experiential learning opportunity.

Interested students can learn more about Out on Bay Street at www.outonbayst.org.

Attendance costs $30 in advance, which includes food and beverages on both days. The price increases at the door on Sept. 25.

Ryan Edmonds is a second-year student at Osgoode Hall Law School and is the law outreach contact for Out on Bay Street 2009.

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