U of T launches Future Black Lawyers program

Joshua Lokko (photo by Nina Haikara)

The University Of Toronto Faculty Of Law launched a new program aiming to support Black students who aspire to go to law school, beginning in 2021.

According to a Nov. 25 letter from Edward Iacobucci to the law school community, the goal of the Black Future Lawyers Program is to increase the number of Black students attending U of T Law and ultimately embarking on a legal career.

By 2021, aspiring Black law students can seek admission into the program, in an application process that promises that these “applications will be read by at least three staff, students, and alumni who identify with the Black community.”

The program seeks to equip Black undergraduate students with the following tools to prepare them for law school: workshops, lectures, financial aid info sessions, free access to the school’s LSAT prep course, mentoring by and job shadowing of Black members of the profession, a lunch series with Black alumni, as well as invitations to the annual Black Future Lawyers conference and other special events at the law school.

The initiative resulted from a collaboration between the law school, the school’s Black alumni, the Black Law Students Association, and members of the legal profession. In developing the project, Iacobucci said they were inspired by a successful program in the medical school.

The new program builds on earlier efforts by the law school to increase representation. In 2005, the Faculty of Law created one of the largest law-related youth outreach programs in North America. Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS) has since had a transformative impact on high school students facing personal or systemic barriers to success. The award-winning access program is designed to support and motivate students by exposing them to law and justice through workshops, mentorship and employment programs. Many graduates have continued on to post-secondary education and second-entry programs, including law.

According to Joshua Lokko of the Black Law Students’ Association, Black law alumni and U of T Law, the school and the association collaborated to figure out how they could solve the problem of low Black representation.

Next year, U of T Law will open its Black student application stream. Applicants must meet the standard academic requirements for admission, but they will also be offered the opportunity to provide an additional personal statement and at least three reviewers from the Black community will read their application.