Criminal Law, The Profession

Sa'd wants to help new lawyers clear hurdles of the profession

By Tony Poland, Associate Editor

Working to break down barriers to entering the legal profession will be a priority if she's elected as a bencher of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), Toronto criminal and landlord/tenant lawyer Caryma Sa’d tells

Sa’d, founder and principal of SADVOCACY Professional Corporation, says she wants to help new lawyers find ways to manage the hurdles they may encounter when entering the profession.

“Change is coming. The Law Society of Ontario needs to stay relevant by properly equipping members with the necessary tools and support," she says.

Sa’d says if elected, she would:

  • promote mental wellness initiatives, including examining the strengths and weaknesses of the current Member Assistance Program
  • advocate for improved support to recent calls and solo/small firms
  • continue to push for platforms to amplify unheard voices

She says one of her key concerns is finding a solution to the rising cost of law school tuition.

“I think it needs to be urgently addressed,” she says. “If I was looking at the current price of tuition, I would not consider law school a viable option. That's unfortunate because I enjoy being a lawyer, and hope to contribute to the profession.”

Sa’d notes the LSO has no direct role in regulating tuition fees, “but I do think that there are ways that we can try to reduce the pressure on students.”

“One option is incorporating clinical experience that could count toward articling," she says. "We can work on developing strategic partnerships with law schools and community legal organizations.”

Sa’d suggests there could be a “classroom component to this practical work” which might also allow law students to earn money as they learn.

She says rising tuition can result in graduates entering the profession saddled with five- or six-figure student debt. For some, it could limit the type of law they want to practise because their focus is fixed on the need to repay loans.

“It's unlikely that they would be able financially to take on social justice-oriented work,” Sa’d says. “It is so unfortunate that the price tag of law school could prevent students from serving the communities that motivated them to study law in the first place.”

She says she knows how challenging it can be to build a law firm, so she would like to see the LSO do more to help new lawyers who want to strike out on their own, possibly with the creation of a “toolkit or a module” that could provide a level of guidance “not just in areas of law, but in running a practice.”

"It's very hard to launch your own practice. Certain roadblocks are clear to me because the experience of hanging out my shingle is fresh,” Sa’d says. “If I could make it easier for someone down the line, that's my goal. Sometimes it’s isolating being in a sole practice, and that's why it would be beneficial to have a network of lawyers to call on for support.”

She sees this proposed toolkit as being “low investment with high returns.”

“We don't need to reinvent the wheel. Many of the resources already exist. We simply need to develop a module. I know what questions need to be answered so I would like to be instrumental in helping to create it."

Sa’d says she has experienced first-hand how diversity can be a stumbling block to succeeding as a lawyer, and she wants to work to change the culture within the field.

“We have seen some improvement in the profession when it comes to accepting diversity. I think, in smaller centres, the problem is more pronounced,” she says. “There are certain indignities suffered that I would say are unique to people from diverse backgrounds, and those can be degrading, demoralizing, and make you doubt yourself.”

The law society adopted a policy called Working Together for Change: Strategies to Address the Issues of Systematic Racism in the Legal Profession, and S’ad says the LSO needs “to continue to implement the 13 strategies identified by the task force.”

“The recommendations are there, and I think that the social science supports the implementation of these strategies. We need to continue on that path, and try to shift the culture as quickly as possible."

Forty lawyer benchers will be elected — 20 from inside Toronto and 20 from outside. The deadline for voting is 5 p.m. April 30, 2019.

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