February 25, 2021
A newly formed partnership of leading Canadian law firms has committed $1.75 million to the groundbreaking Black Future Lawyers Program (BFL).
The 14 firms—Blakes, BLG, Cassels, Davies, Dentons, Fasken, Goodmans, Gowling WLG, McCarthy Tétrault, McMillan, Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, Osler, Stikeman Elliott and Torys—through their combined commitments, will provide operational funding to BFL over the next 10 years.
University of Toronto Faculty of Law Dean Jutta Brunnée said the 10-year financial commitment from the partner firms provides the stability and security needed to allow the BFL to establish chapters at universities across the country and invest in the future of Canada’s next generation of Black lawyers.
“We know that Black students face systemic obstacles that prevent them from accessing professional school education," Brunnée said.
“BFL leverages the resources at U of T Law and the legal profession to address this issue."
“It’s important that we have a long-term vision for the program that will ultimately help build a consistently strong number of Black students enrolling in law.”
"It means so much to individuals like me who at one point didn't think law school was a viable pathway. BFL has been very powerful and inspiring, especially as I was applying," said BFL participant, Ikran Jama, a U of T undergraduate student.
In addition to the financial support that will enable the BFL to accelerate its ambitious programming goals, partner firms will collaborate and deliver a business law-focused educational stream for BFL students.
“Students will have the opportunity to attend seminars and events on a regular basis that will give them exposure to the priorities and day-to-day realities of working lawyers,” Brunnée said.
These sessions will cover substantive topics in various areas of law as well as professionalism topics like building networks and improving presentation skills.
“These are great avenues for BFL students to learn directly from some of the top law firms in the country.”
BFL provides support and engagement opportunities to Black undergraduate students whose vision is to become lawyers. It was formed by the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in January 2020 in collaboration with the school’s Black Law Students’ Association, its Black alumni, and the greater legal community. BFL offers mentoring programs, opportunities to attend workshops at UofT Law, and an annual conference.
More details on the Black Future Lawyers Program can be found at https://bfl.law.utoronto.ca/.