As we enter into Black History Month, our focus should be on the future: supporting and mentoring the next generation of black men and women entering the legal profession. There is no doubt that black faces are a rarity in the legal field, making it more important than ever for us to lead by example. With articles like “Black on Bay Street” making waves, it is becoming abundantly clear just how much progress is necessary for us to build on. We must continue to encourage our younger peers on their paths, making sure they have the support to excel in each and every way. When I entered law school, I was the only Black male throughout all 3 years of approximately 360 students. I begin to realize this wasn’t an experience unique only to me. When you look at law schools around the country, you will see classes that are coming into law school with just four or three or even one black male student. We are talking about handfuls, which brings us back to the kinds of numbers we saw in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The pipeline to success for black lawyers needs to begin early, with constructive discussion to influence potential applicants to pursue a career in the legal profession. Such reassurance has to continue through law school, with sufficient support and mentoring to fend off the isolation felt by so many black law students upon entering law school. This will help ensure that they are prepared for the realisms of the vocation they are about to enter. I believe these efforts to be vital, so that the pipeline can also extend into the profession—not only to the notion of black law students securing their first job after graduating, but also to the point where they are securing leadership roles of impact and authority.
There is no doubt that progress has been made. We have had superb guidance and direction. However, the time is prime for us to keep pushing forward, for the sake of the younger generation who will come after us. Let us propel forward as remember what our forefathers did before us so they may smile down on us with pride.
Thomson Rivers University