Let’s start with the basics. Tell us about yourself. What makes you you?
My name is Ashley Harripersad and I graduated from the LAWS Program back in 2012. What makes me, me are my experiences to-date! I did not go straight into law school out of undergrad, I worked at the Ontario Justice Education Network for 3 years as I figured out my next steps and awaited acceptances from law schools in Ontario. I enjoy work-life balance and so much of my time in school has always been paired with an array of extracurriculars. This past year I have been volunteering remotely as a caseworker at Community Legal Aid in Windsor. My journey to a career in law is one that I am figuring out each day and I am excited to be finishing up my second year of law school thus far!
Why did you decide to join LAWS?
I decided to join LAWS because it sounded like a program that could offer me opportunities outside of what my family and friends could. When it came to the legal profession, I had 0 connections and knew only of what I had seen on TV.
What are some of your favourite or most valued moments from the program?
The moving-up ceremonies were always special! They captured highlights of each year. When you’re in high school, it is easy to neglect all that you have accomplished and experienced in a year, so it was always a reflective moment for me! Also, I really enjoyed Blakes LLP Mentoring. In addition to the support of having a mentor, each session opened my eyes to so much more of the legal profession. It was an opportunity that was conducive to my growth. Having been paired with a mentor was a great outlet for someone who was having a hard time envisioning themselves in the profession.
What are you up to now?
I am finishing up exams and my second year of law school, and about to start my summer with Sun Life working with their Compliance Team!
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I aspire to be a lawyer that is proud of the work that I do and practice. I have a strong social justice background that I believe this will be useful irrespective of the role or sector of law I begin to put down roots in. I am interested in working in Corporate (legal) Compliance because I have seen the impact that corporations have on consumers and vulnerable populations. I believe that such a role will allow me to use my law degree to bring about better protections for all consumers.
How did LAWS impact your life/career choices?
LAWS turned my dream of becoming a lawyer into an attainable goal.
Did you meet any mentors or role models that inspired you along the way?
All of my LAWS teachers were role models that inspired me! They each inspired me through their teaching and by how much they cared for each of their students. I have such fond memories of classes because of them. They are absolutely the heart and soul of LAWS and I am so lucky to have had such wonderful educators. Of course I have my mentor Jillian Swartz to mention! Jillian is such a strong and inspiring woman. She has been such an immense support along my journey (since I was in grade 11, that is 10 years in the making!). Jillian is proof of where hard work can get you. It is the little things that stand out the most to me about our relationship, i.e. I will always remember how she made first made me feel heard (which is not often as a young person!) and encouraged me in ways that allowed me to begin envisioning myself in the profession. I am thankful to still be contact with her! Sue Gaudi was my boss at my LAWS Summer Job at the Globe and Mail back in summer 2010 (when I was in grade 10). The work she allotted and challenged me with during my internship instilled a newfound confidence that I had not felt before. She saw me as more than a high school student that was around the office, she actually gave me the opportunity to get involved in research to produce work that I was proud of. As a young person, this impacted me more than she probably realized. I had the opportunity to reconnect and work with her again at the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority in summer 2020. I admire so much about her; including how passionate she is about her work. This is yet another connection that LAWS helped me build along my journey!
What advice would you give to students who are considering signing up for LAWS?
You literally have nothing to lose and so much to gain! If you commit to the Program, you have quite the agenda coming your way! LAWS has so many experiential learning opportunities and something for everyone. If you’re not convinced yet, just think about all the pizza you’ll be getting from events…