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Scholarships awarded by Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund

Law students with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments received scholarships

Scholarships awarded by Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund

Nine law students across Canada were awarded scholarships by the Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund. The fund aims to promote equal access to legal education and diversity in Canadian law faculties by awarding scholarships on an annual basis to students with physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in law. The objective is to foster inclusion within the Canadian legal community, to secure its sustainability and long-term success of the organizations and communities that it serves.

A Zoom webcast was hosted by fund contributor, Gowling WLG on July 16 to honour the 2020 recipients who each received a $3,000 scholarship.

During the event, LLDTF board member Scott Jolliffe – who is also partner and former CEO at Gowling WLG – congratulated the award recipients, saying: “It's our privilege to recognize and applaud some extraordinary law students and graduates, for their deep commitment and determination.”

Also present at the event was 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 national organization is comprised of general counsel who have declared their commitment to creating a more inclusive legal profession, as well as supporting diversity initiatives within their own organizations.

“We believe strongly in what you bring to the table in terms of your diversity of thought,” said Fredeen to the scholarship recipients. “Your unique lived experiences are hugely important to this profession today more than ever, and I encourage all of you to be vocal, to be bold, be courageous, and call on us and call on others to support you in the development of your legal career. Share your lived experience if you're willing to because by virtue of that, we become more inclusive as a legal profession.”

The trust fund, which was established six years ago, was spearheaded by Daniel Desjardins, chair of the LLDTF and former GC and current chairman of Bombardier Transportation, which is a contributor to the fund.

“Diversity is important to all of us, so we are here to promote equal access to legal education,” said Desjardins to the scholarship recipients. “Our goal is to support you and help you in so many ways, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you need support or mentorship. Having this scholarship will hopefully set you on the path to success.”

Also present at the event, Geoff Creighton, principal at GC Counsel Canada and trustee of the LLDTF, added: “There's a lot of hard work and dedication that is involved in mastering legal studies. This really shows the strength of character that I think all successful law students need but in your cases, there's just that that extra little bit that bodes well for your future contributions to the legal community and to the wider communities.”

More than 70 candidates applied for scholarships this year. Since its launch, the fund has given 69 scholarships - amounting to more than $200,000 -  to students across Canada. Those contributing to the fund include both corporate legal departments and law firms.

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