On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, the Law Society of British Columbia launched the first Aboriginal mentorship program in North America. The program is designed to retain and advance Aboriginal lawyers in B.C.
The Aboriginal Lawyers Mentorship Program matches experienced senior lawyers with Aboriginal lawyers that have been in practice for less than three years. The senior lawyers act as mentors and provide support and professional development guidance to the junior lawyers.
Maria Marellato, QC, chair of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee, commented “Aboriginal people are underrepresented in the legal profession. The Law Society wants to see more young Aboriginal lawyers stay in the profession and we believe that strong mentoring is a good way to start.”
Andrea Hillard, policy and legal services lawyer with the Law Society said that “mentoring is a tradition in the legal profession, but this is the first time a program has been created specifically for Aboriginal lawyers.”
The Law Society currently is looking for volunteer mentors. In order to be eligible to volunteer, the lawyer must be called more than three years in any jurisdiction in Canada and be willing to commit for one year to monthly meetings with the Aboriginal lawyer, either in person, by phone or at networking events.
The program is a partnership between the Law Society, the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch’s Aboriginal Lawyers Forum and the Indigenous Bar Association.