Lerners is delighted to announce that our inaugural Learn with Lerners Bursary & Mentorship Program is awarded to Ms. Isatu Barrie! A recent graduate of Westview Centennial Secondary School in North York, Isatu is currently attending her first year at York University, where she studies political science. Growing up in the Jane & Finch neighbourhood of Toronto, Isatu is on a quest to help break down the stereotypes and barriers that members of her cultural and socioeconomic community face each and every day. Isatu hopes to one day go to law school and become a criminal defence lawyer where she can bring her own unique perspective, as a Black Muslim woman, to her practice.
Isatu has shown promise in many other areas, including community activism. She has demonstrated her leadership abilities and learned that she can bring about transformative change by using her voice and the collective voices of other youth in her community. Her dedication to her community has culminated in her role as a mentor with Success Beyond Limits: a collaborative youth-led organization that provides youth in the Jane & Finch area with holistic supports to complete their education and help them along their individual paths to success. Isatu was also a proud student of Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS), where she credits her own esteemed mentors to help spark her interest in a legal career through participation in mock-trials and after-school law labs. LAWS shares the same mission as Lerners: to increase the diversity of the legal profession in Ontario early on in order to better reflect, serve, shape and strengthen society and improve Access to Justice.
The Learn with Lerners Bursary and Mentorship Program was established in 2021 in an effort to help address the systemic barriers that Black, Indigenous and other Persons of Colour face in establishing a career in the legal services industry. We recognize that these barriers must be addressed and broken down early on, and our focus has therefore been on promising recent high school graduates who have an interest in the legal services industry, including but not limited to becoming a lawyer, law clerk, paralegal, legal assistant, legal marketer, judge, court service staff, alternative dispute resolution facilitator, or legislator. In addition to a $5,000.00 bursary, the recipient will also receive a 12-month mentorship opportunity with a Lerners lawyer to help guide them through their legal journey. In 2022, Isatu will be mentored by Zahra Vaid, an associate lawyer in Lerners’ Toronto Office who has a wide-ranging practice including Health Law, Insurance Defence, Personal Injury Law and Appellate Advocacy.
In 2022, Lerners plans to build on the success of the inaugural year of the Learn with Lerners Bursary & Mentorship Program by expanding the program to two honorary recipients. Applications for the 2022 program will open in the spring of 2022. Thank you to everyone who applied in 2021, and congratulations once again to Isatu Barrie!