Black History Month: Supporting Black Youth Representation in the Legal Profession

Aird & Berlis is proud to continue its support of Black History Month by hosting a special complimentary program on March 2, 2023, “ Black Voices (In)Justice: Supporting Black Youth Representation in the Legal Profession.” This programming is open to the public and is being held in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT).

During this informative and engaging session, law students, law educators, lawyers and legal sector representatives will discuss the profound impact Mary Ann Shadd Cary had on the fight for equality. Presenters will also examine diversity in the legal sector from historical and contemporary perspectives.

Joining the March 2 program is the Honourable Michael H. Tulloch, who was recently appointed as the Chief Justice of Ontario. Chief Justice Tulloch has been a judge since 2003 and is the author of two influential reports on policing in Ontario: the Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review (2017) and the Report of the Independent Street Checks Review (2018). Chief Justice Tulloch has also dedicated time to helping Canadian youth for many years, co-founding the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation, which assists youth re-entering the education system by providing support for change and academic success.

This event builds on previous programming co-produced by Aird & Berlis and the OHT. In 2021, Aird & Berlis sponsored a virtual tour of the Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History. The museum is one of Canada’s most significant sites related to Black history and the underground railroad.

This year’s programming will examine how mentorship and Black representation are so important for Black youth seeking careers in the legal sector. Aird & McBurney Patent Agent, Pia-Lauren Reece, will lead a panel discussion which includes Aird & Berlis’ Chauntae De Gannes, a third-year summer law student and Mark Omenugha, an articling student. Sarah Coderre, Partner and Co-Founder of Bow River Law will also join the panel.

“Without a doubt, you do not get to where you want to be unless you receive help from those that are at least a little further in their careers than you are,” says Reece. “It is my hope that this session will give students wishing to enter the legal profession a better idea of the opportunities available to them even before they get into law school, knowledge which can pave the way for improving the BIPOC underrepresentation issue we are currently facing in Canada.”

"I am optimistic about joining a profession that is making strides regarding Black representation," adds De Gannes. "I recognize the impact of mentors and trailblazers who came before me, and I wish to pay it forward to the program participants seeking to work in the legal industry."

The program has already amassed more than 1,000 registrants from across Canada. It is open to the public and of significant interest to high school and university educators, students seeking learning and development opportunities, and those working in the legal sector. For anyone who would like more information regarding Black Voices (In)Justice: Supporting Black Youth Representation in the Legal Profession, click here.