The University of Toronto's Faculty of Law has announced a $30-million campaign to significantly deepen the financial aid pool and enhance the law student experience.
The Campaign for Excellence without Barriers, with a specific goal of raising $20 million for student financial aid, is the largest bursary-focused campaign at any Canadian law school. The money raised also supports co-curricular programming for students, such as legal clinics, mental health initiatives, and professional opportunities while in law school.
Increasing accessibility to the Faculty of Law for students who merit admission is a top priority. The Faculty of Law awards bursaries only on the basis of financial need, and to those students who need it most. Increasing the financial aid pool helps support applications by top candidates with financial need, alleviates stress for students during law school, and helps graduates make career decisions based on their choice and passion – often in social justice and public service areas, benefitting our communities.
“It's fundamental that we continue to get the very best students interested in studying law here no matter their backgrounds,” says Professor Edward Iacobucci, dean of the Faculty of Law. “We need to have a diverse profession that reflects the range of experience that we’re so proud of in this country. I think a great deal would be lost if financial obstacles prevented a broad range of people from attending the Faculty of Law.”
Thursday's campaign event was attended by former Ontario lieutenant-governor, former U of T chancellor and Faculty of Law alumnus Hal Jackman, third from left, and U of T President Meric Gertler (photo by Dhoui Chang)
To date, U of T Law alumni and other supporters have given more than $24 million to the campaign for students, including $14.8 million for student financial aid.
“For a number of Canadians, the choice to go to law school or not is dependent on whether they can afford it,” says Alexandra McLennan, a JD candidate. “For me, financial aid has made possible what initially seemed impossible. I would not be able to attend law school without this support. I would encourage future donors to consider the impact of their monetary donation on a future student’s life.”
“The impact of receiving the bursaries is immense,” says Maressa Singh, a student in the JD/MBA program. “It alleviates financial stress and allows me to focus on my studies. I absolutely would not be able to attend law school without the help of the student financial aid program.”
“I’m here at the Faculty of Law because other people believed in me,” says Wanekia Dunn, a JD candidate. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for their generosity. Donor support is critical to my being able to complete my law degree.”
A number of factors, including declining government support for post-secondary institutions, have created a sobering reality for many Canadian law schools. The Faculty of Law’s tuition fees, $36,720 for 2018-19, make possible a world-class academic experience and robust co-curricular programming, such as clinical and internship opportunities, combined degree programs, career services, to name a few, in addition to one of the best legal educations in the world.
Campaign Co-Chair Mark Wiseman, an alumnus of the LLB/MBA program who is global head of active equities for Blackrock and chair of Blackrock Alternative Investors, says: “I am pleased to be a campaign co-chair because I’m an ardent supporter of the Faculty of Law’s vision. I understand first-hand the imperative to deepen financial aid. I received financial assistance during law school, and I worked throughout my studies.”
Co-Chair Melissa Kennedy, an alumna of the LLB program who is executive vice-president and chief legal officer at Sun Life Financial, says: “I am a proud alumna and owe much to the law school which I believe has helped my career and I know has forged many lifelong friends. Like many students, I both worked to pay for my education and received financial aid, so I understand the importance of deepening financial aid at U of T’s Faculty of Law.”
“Student financial aid is important because it is an investment in the leaders of the future, who will have to tackle the challenges that our community faces,” says first-year student Ahmed Elahi. “Hence, investing in students is tantamount to investing in the future.”
Adds first-year student Sarah Feutl: "To donors: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your gifts allow me to focus on my schooling without the constant weight of financial stress on my shoulders. The money you donated gives me a level of freedom to choose jobs and activities that will help me shape the well-rounded lawyer I one day hope to be.”
The campaign is expected to wrap up by December 2019. “The momentum for the Campaign for Excellence without Barriers has been tremendous. Through their generosity, our alumni have dramatically opened up opportunities for many brilliant and talented law students, and we are truly grateful,” says Iacobucci.