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Creating Space in BigLaw for Indigenous Law Students

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

As I was unpacking my boxes in my new home office, I stumbled upon an article that I wrote in the December 2017 issue of the National Association for Law Placement Bulletin. As I was reading through it, I realized that creating an internship for first-year Indigenous Law Students was one of my proudest achievements in my 22-year career.

The idea for the internship sparked in 2016 during a Lunch & Learn on the Indigenous law student experience presented by the Associate Director of Indigenous Legal Studies at Allard Law. She referred to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Call to Action:

"We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework...[and to] ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector".

My interpretation of the Call to Action was that it wasn't enough to just consider Indigenous law students' applications along with the others. I believed that it was about businesses taking responsibility for carving a path for Indigenous peoples so that those who followed could see themselves represented in that corporate sector. The purpose of the internship was to create a space where Indigenous law students could experience a bigger law firm setting, and hopefully open up opportunities for others to follow. I am grateful to Miller Thomson for accepting this Call to Action and for making this initiative a reality. I am proud of the students we hired through the internship program who have graduated to become talented lawyers, articling students and mentors at the firm.

I am sharing this article in the hopes that Indigenous law students will consider "BigLaw" firms when they are deciding where to apply for summer positions in the next few months. I also hope that lawyers and student program directors will consider implementing a similar initiative to give Indigenous law students the opportunity to explore all of their career options, and to generate a new pipeline for diverse talent.

To learn more about my path from developing programs at law firms to becoming a consultant for law students, lawyers and legal service providers, check out these blog posts:

Creating Space for Indigenous Students i
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