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Don’t walk alone — books for aspiring law studentsAs a student about to enter law school, I have hundreds of questions. At any stage — especially deciding to go and then choosing a school — students will likely have questions. For those who do, there are a couple of books you can read to find the answers you’re looking for.
In an effort to make law school more inclusive, a new scholarship for disabled students has been established at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.
The scholarship was made possible by reachAbility, a local not-for-profit organization that aims to create more inclusive communities. The scholarship will be awarded to a different incoming first-year student each year, starting this fall. Students must demonstrate academic excellence, financial need, and self-identify as having a disability, which can be physical, mental, cognitive, or sensory.
ReachAbility offered to donate $10,000 annually for the next four years. The law school will add another $5,000 in the first year and plans to fundraise for the remaining years.
With tuition costing slightly less than $15,000 per year, Diane Chisholm, a development officer at the law school, says the scholarship will really make a difference in the chosen students’ lives.
“You want to have individuals have accessibility regardless of the barriers. We don’t want cost to be a barrier and for some students with disabilities cost is a challenge, and so if it’s targeted at those students then the playing field is a little bit more level,” she says.
“If someone has disabilities, one can imagine that they would have other challenges and law school is very competitive,” she adds.
Tova Sherman, founder of reachAbility and a disability awareness trainer, says not only will the scholarship benefit students and the law school, it will also benefit the legal community by raising awareness about disabilities and, in effect, removing the stigma that exists in society — specifically in the legal profession.
“The legal community gains because those lawyers are going to have experience working with someone with a disability and realizing all those preconceived notions . . . [are] not the whole story,” says Sherman.
“We need to educate the legal community and this is one of the ways,” she adds.
Sherman has conducted disability awareness training at law schools, law firms, and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society through Independent Disability Education Associates.
“I’ve seen that there is a lack of awareness, just like anywhere else,” she says.
Sherman refers to a survey that reachAbility conducted of its legal referral service as an example of the stigma that still exists. Out of approximately 350 volunteer lawyers, only three identified as having a disability, and those were the ones with a physical disability.
“For persons with disabilities, I don’t think that anyone ever really thought about the importance of equalizing the playing field because they always perceive accommodation as ‘special,’” she says.
Sherman says it’s not about being “special,” it’s about people with disabilities having the same accessibility as others, and society starting to view it that way.
“We have attitudinal and architectural barriers. If we remove all the architectural barriers that does not mean we’re OK. But if we remove the attitudinal barriers, everything falls into place,” she says.
Chisholm says the scholarship also presents more opportunities for those with disabilities.
“By offering a scholarship, you’re offering the potential for individuals with disabilities who may not have considered [law school]. So it’s not only just the actual money, but it’s actually giving those with disabilities the idea that this is something [they] can aim for,” she says.
Tova Sherman says the scholarship will also benefit the legal community by raising awareness and removing the stigma of disabilities.
Tova Sherman says the scholarship will also benefit the legal community by raising awareness and removing the stigma of disabilities.
In an effort to make law school more inclusive, a new scholarship for disabled students has been established at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.
Monday, 25 June 2012 10:40

First impressions

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First impressionsBefore law school, what did you think of lawyers? What kind of people did you expect to meet in this field? What personality types?
If approved, Trinity Western University would have the fourth law school in British Columbia.
If approved, Trinity Western University would have the fourth law school in British Columbia.
After more than three decades without a new law school in Canada, it seems that every university is vying for one.
Throughout my journey at the Community Legal Clinic - Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, I’ve had a wide array of experiences and opportunities that have enabled me to grow as a young legal advocate.
Anita Goela (r) learned a lot from her articling principal Jessie Iwasiw, executive director of the Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic.
Anita Goela (r) learned a lot from her articling principal Jessie Iwasiw, executive director of the Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic.
My 10 months of articling are almost up and I have to confess — my experience was good, bad, and even ugly at times, but there was a silver lining. I spent my articles at Legal Aid Ontario with five months in clinic law, one and a half months in criminal duty counsel, and finishing off with three and a half months in family law.
‘We want students whose heart is in rural Canada,’ says Lakehead’s founding law dean Lee Stuesser.
‘We want students whose heart is in rural Canada,’ says Lakehead’s founding law dean Lee Stuesser.
With the first law school in northern Ontario set to open next year, it seems fitting that the founding dean is from a small community himself.
Monday, 28 May 2012 10:24

More collaboration, less competition

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More collaboration, less competitionLast September, I walked into law school eager to join a new community of capable, energized individuals with big ideas. Everyone was certainly capable and everyone had ideas. But it took me until the end of the academic year to feel the sense of unity I had been expecting. Instead, competition smacked me in the face.
André Bacchus, director of professional development at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto, says articling students shouldn't take it personally if they don't get hired back.
André Bacchus, director of professional development at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto, says articling students shouldn't take it personally if they don't get hired back.
So you didn’t get hired back. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, many others are in the same position, which is why it’s time to swallow that rejection pill and learn a new craft — that of the job hunt.
Monday, 14 May 2012 11:05

Getting ready for summering

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You’re young and there’s lots to learn about a life in law. Photo: Shutterstock
You’re young and there’s lots to learn about a life in law. Photo: Shutterstock
With most summer students starting at the big law firms last week, Canadian Lawyer 4Students spoke with recruiters and career services professionals to compile a list of the top 10 ways to make the most out of your summer.
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