Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund presents 10 scholarships in online event

Scholarships awarded to law students with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments

Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund presents 10 scholarships in online event

The Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund awarded scholarships to 10 law students from across Canada in an annual event which took place virtually on June 16.

The fund – which was established in 2015 through donations from general counsel and law firm managing partners across Canada – aims to promote equal access to legal education and diversity in Canadian law faculties by awarding scholarships to law students with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments.

This year, 10 students were selected from around 60 applicants. A Zoom webcast was hosted by fund contributor, Gowling WLG to honour the 2021 recipients who each received a $3,000 scholarship.

The event was attended by members of the LLDTF board of trustees including fund chairman and former general counsel of Bombardier Transportation, Daniel Desjardins; and by Gordon McCue, head of legal and associate GC, downstream at Shell Canada.

Speaking to the award winners during the event, McCue said: “You have shown resilience in often extremely adverse circumstances and overcome challenges to not only succeed, but thrive in your studies and in life, and that is something to be applauded and celebrated.”

Desjardins thanked the awardees for sharing their stories and invited them to reach out to the trustees for mentorship or advice at any time.

Also in attendance was LLDTF board of trustees member, Ken Fredeen, general counsel emeritus and senior partner leading accessibility and Indigenous initiatives at Deloitte LLP. Fredeen co-founded Legal Leaders for Diversity and Inclusion together with other general counsel nine years ago. The group consists of Canadian general counsel from coast to coast who have declared their support and commitment for creating a more inclusive legal profession as well as supporting diversity initiatives within their organizations.

Addressing the scholarship winners, Fredeen said: “What we are talking about here is much bigger than each of you. It’s about the movement that we need to see to create a more inclusive legal profession for people with disabilities. This profession has space for you. You will be successful in this profession, and we wish you all the best.”

The event was also attended by Scott Jolliffe, partner at Gowling WLG, and James Buchan, firm managing partner – clients at Gowling WLG, both of whom are members of the LLDTF board of trustees.

Buchan thanked the award winners for their courage and wished them well in their careers.

“All of you truly are role models,” he said. “To the extent that this is a small contribution to what I’m sure will be a very successful career and very successful lives, congratulations from all of us.”

This year’s award recipients are enrolled in law programs at Dalhousie University, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Alberta, and Western University.

Those contributing to the fund include both corporate legal departments and law firms. Since the fund’s creation, it has granted 79 scholarships totalling $237,000 to recipients across the country.

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