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Law Students for Access Together

Elizabeth Grzyb (1L)

Law Students for Access Together (LSAT) would like to thank students and staff for attending our first event and for an engaged and interactive audience! We had over 30 attendees and would like to thank you for making our first event such a success!

LSAT was proud to be able to host a panel discussion on “Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession” on February 26 in the Law Centre, in collaboration with the Law Faculty’s Equality and Respect Committee and the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. We were very fortunate to have Analea Wayne, QC, and Randy Hogle as speakers. Both are University of Alberta Law alumni and have gone on to be practitioners and advocates for diversity and equality.

Analea, a lawyer at Miller Thompson who sits on their Diversity and Inclusion Committee and is a former Canadian Bar Association Vice President for Alberta, led off the event by speaking about the actions most law societies across Canada are taking to promote inclusivity and diversity. As someone who is in charge of hiring, Analea was able to describe the processes involved in making accommodations to ensure that she could acquire and retain the best talent. She put forth that it is up to the students entering the profession to ask the tough questions about diversity and inclusivity while also making them a priority during the hiring process. In other words, the more students that demand diversity and inclusivity, the more likely that firms will feel the need to meet the demand.

Randy, a family law, estates, and personal injury lawyer, has been at the bar for 32 years. He only has the use of 25% of his vision and has firsthand experience in dealing with inclusivity in the workplace. Randy also spoke strongly about how lawyers should not be afraid to help one another out. As an example, he shared an anecdote from his time in law school when he was struggling to keep up in tax law. Due to the high volume of cases he had to have recorded and sent to him, it was looking like he would fail the class. A friend inquired into his situation and when Randy conveyed that he was upset because he would not be able to finish law school in three years his friend said to transfer into his tax law class so they could study together. This friend would read the cases to Randy and they would spend hours studying together. Randy was able to finish law school in three years and his story speaks strongly to the need for students to work together in the pursuit of inclusivity.

The panel discussion concluded with a strong overarching message that success, as well as diversity and inclusion, is much more likely to be found when people support each other’s strengths rather than only viewing individuals through the lens of stigma. This is an important message to carry forward and LSAT is grateful for both speakers for portraying this message so strongly.