One of the goals in the Law Society’s strategic plan is for the public to have better access to legal services and advice. Part of improving access is increasing diversity within the legal profession because we believe the public is best served when members of the profession reflect the communities that they represent.
Today, I’d like to highlight one of the programs the Law Society developed to increase diversity, thereby improving access: the Aboriginal Lawyers Mentorship Program.
The program was launched in 2013 and is geared toward enhancing the retention and advancement of Aboriginal lawyers, who are currently underrepresented in the legal profession in British Columbia. I am especially proud of this program because it serves a great purpose, but it is also the first of its kind in North America, and made right here in BC.
When the program launched, the response was tremendous. The Law Society aimed to match 20 pairs, and not only did it meet that target, but it also accepted 17 additional applications from qualified senior lawyers who wanted to become mentors!
Here’s how it works: the Law Society acts as a “matchmaking” service to pair junior Aboriginal lawyers with senior lawyers for a mentor-mentee relationship. Once they’re matched, they remain in contact; they touch base once in a while in whatever way they choose – on the phone, in person, or emailing – giving the junior lawyer the opportunity to receive career advice from someone who is more experienced.
For mentors, I imagine it’s very gratifying to support and foster junior Aboriginal lawyers. In my opinion, I think it’s our responsibility as senior lawyers to provide guidance for junior lawyers to maintain the strength and stability of the profession.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or a mentee, please come out and meet your “match” at a special Meet and Greet reception to launch the second cycle of the Aboriginal Lawyers Mentorship Program. While you must identify as Aboriginal to be a mentee, senior lawyers of all backgrounds are welcome to apply for a mentor position. I especially encourage lawyers from rural parts of the province to attend, as that is where the need is greatest.
The Meet and Greet event will take place on Friday, September 12, 2014 at the offices of Mandell Pinder LLP, Suite 300-1080 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC. The reception will begin at 5:00 pm.
For more information, or to confirm attendance at the reception, contact Andrea Hilland, Law Society staff lawyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604.443.5727.