It is with great pleasure that I serve as your president this year! As I said at the 2015 Conference, it is an honour to have been elected as your president and I will strive to give you my very best. Hence, as BLSA Canada enters its 25th year of existence, it does so under the vision and leadership of a committed and hard working executive.
25 years| Founded by students from an historically under-represented group in the Canadian legal profession—and at time where their numbers in law schools nationwide were particularly low—BLSA Canada has encouraged the creation of a sustainable community. Indeed, twenty-five years later, I believe this association to be a vital and vibrant organisation.
BLSA Canada offers a safe space where students can break their relative isolation, solicit and share insight on the legal profession, and gain encouragement from members of the practicing bar as they pursue their legal study and plan their legal career.
Moreover, through the outreach initiatives of our nationwide chapters, we have steadily grown in numbers. Twenty five years later, we must be proud of our association’s commitment to mentoring future generations of aspiring law students, through high school outreach initiatives and orientation events for undergraduate students considering careers in law. The importance of these events should not be undervalued in their ability to help generate a broad and diverse pool of applicants.
Raising the bar | As we reflect on the great things this organization has accomplished since its inception, we have greater expectations for the future. As such, this year’s national theme is “Raising The Bar: Striding Toward Excellence.”
This year, I want BLSA Canada to recommit to its mission, to community service and to the engagement and the advancement of the Black community by raising the bar toward our personal best. In doing so, my team and I will further the mission of BLSA Canada by aligning ourselves with other organizations that not only can help us increase our outreach for minority law students, but organizations that also align with our mission of increasing the diversity within the legal profession.
I also aim for BLSA Canada to put more emphasis on the grass roots level of our activities by encouraging each and every one of our chapters to be more active and more accountable to the national executive in regard of their BLSACares portfolio.
As you read the letter and get familiarized with our different projects, you will see that the wheels of our organization are already set in motion toward making the 25th year a great one!
Striding toward excellence| I strongly believe that black law students who know that they are capable of excellence and refuse to let anything keep them from excelling are up for rewards to the level of their aspirations. Under the umbrella of our national theme, I hope our members will chose to get in the habit of picturing themselves living their personal success story not by way of perfection, but by pushing for excellence.
Whether in applying to law school or in securing an articling position: being good may not be enough. What differentiates candidates is how excellent they have become in the things they were already good at — may it be legal writing, oral advocacy, research, and analytical or problem solving skills. It all starts by raising the bar a little higher and constantly getting out of comfort zones. Undeniably, law school offers many opportunities to challenge ourselves to be better and we should encourage one another to take advantage of them.
How do you put your heart into what you do such that your signature becomes excellence? This is for each one of us to discover through fruitful conversations amongst our respective chapters as well as by learning from the experience of legal professionals and experts at the conference.
I hope this year’s theme will help many reflect on how they can walk their way toward their own excellence!
Stéphanie Déborah Jules
Black Law Students’ Association of Canada National President 2015-2016