The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 4, October 2010

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Participation in Aboriginal Law Student Program Nets Summer Jobs

By Jocelyn Frazer, Equity Ombudsperson, Law Society of Alberta

TWO LAW STUDENTS were placed in summer student employment positions for this past summer as a result of their participation in the Aboriginal Law Student Summer Program facilitated by the Law Society of Alberta.

facilitated by the Law Society of Alberta. Jody Peterson is a Métis law student at the University of Alberta, entering her second year of law school this fall. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has worked previously as a staff nurse and educator in that field. She credits her interest in law from her role as the HIV Designate Nurse with the Calgary Health Region and working to enforce the Public Health Act. She also has extensive volunteer experience, including working with Student Legal Services in Edmonton.

Jody was hired to work this summer for Alberta Justice in Edmonton, in their Aboriginal Law division. In addition to her work experience and studies, Jody is the busy mother of 21/2 year old twin boys and is grateful for the support that she has received from both the University and Alberta Justice in balancing her responsibilities.

Bryan Hunter is a Métis student at the University of Alberta entering his final year of law school this fall. This was Bryan’s second summer employment position through the Program, having also secured a position during the summer of 2009. He is a two-time recipient of the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Award, a member of the Indigenous Bar Association, and has extensive experience volunteering within the aboriginal community.

For his second year in the program, Bryan was hired to work in the Law Department at Imperial Oil in Calgary where he gained valuable experience and enjoyed being part of the legal culture within the organization. Bryan will be returning to Calgary next summer to begin his Articles with a Calgary law firm.

PHOTO: From left to right: Law Society of Alberta Bencher Scott Watson, QC; Jocelyn Frazer, Equity Ombudsperson; Student Jody Peterson; and Ross McLeod, QC, Practice Advisor.

The Aboriginal Law Student Summer Program began as a pilot project in 2006. This program was created to: (1) allow law firms and the legal profession to gain greater insight into aboriginal culture and issues; (2) promote opportunities for aboriginal law students early in their legal career to obtain work experience in a law firm; and (3) foster opportunities for ongoing relationships to develop between aboriginal students and practising lawyers.

Since its inception, the Program has facilitated the placement of 20 aboriginal law students into summer employment positions. Comments from participants indicate that this opportunity provides students with a valuable context and reference point to enhance their future education and careers. For many, this is their first opportunity to work and engage with practising lawyers.

Applications for the 2011 Program are currently being accepted, with several firms once again participating. For more details about this program, or if you would like to inquire about requirements to participate in the program as a hiring firm/organization, please contact the Office of the Equity Ombudsperson at the Law Society of Alberta in Calgary.

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