British Columbia

UBC Black Law Students' Association offering free LSAT courses for aspiring Black law students

According to 2019 data from the Law Society of B.C., only 16 per cent of lawyers in the province identify as visible minorities but make up just over 28 per cent of the population. Course organizers hope to level that playing field.

Law Society of B.C. data shows only 16% of lawyers in the province identify as visible minorities

Hadiya Roderique is a lawyer, researcher, speaker, consultant, journalist and broadcast commentator. She will be the instructor for a Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) prep course for Black students offered through the UBC chapter of the Black Law Students Association. (Submitted by Hadiya Roderique)

Dinah Holliday says she was the only Black student enrolled in first year law at the University of British Columbia last year and she'd like to see that change.

Holliday, the co-president of the UBC chapter of the Black Law Students' Association, is one of the organizers of a new Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) prep course exclusively for Black students with legal career ambitions.

The free, online course launches Aug. 23 and includes three classes, four hours long, with a focus on the logic games that make up a large component of the LSAT. 

"People from our communities may be more likely to have financial barriers getting into law school," said Holliday Friday on The Early Edition.  "A lot of people with means pay for a course. Our intensive [course] aims to level that playing field."

Low numbers of Black students

According to 2019 data from the Law Society of B.C., people who identify as visible minorities in British Columbia make up 28.8 per cent of the population but only 16.15 per cent of the B.C. bar.

Holliday said there were only four Black students total enrolled in law school at UBC last year — out of approximately 600 students.

She said one of the obstacles Black students face is a lack of lawyer role models or mentors in their own community and this can impact job prospects down the line because reputation and networking are important for career advancement.

"Black students missing out on these connections and these mentors are missing out on a huge part of access to those positions and access to the profession," said Holliday.

According to the co-president of the UBC chapter of the Black Law Students Association, only four students out of 600 at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC, during the 2019/2020 school year, were Black. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The course will be taught by Toronto lawyer Hadiya Roderique.

In 2017, Roderique wrote a think piece for The Globe and Mail about her time as a lawyer at one of the largest law firms in the city's financial core.

The essay, titled Black on Bay Street, served as a wake-up call about diversity and inclusion in hiring processes and workplaces in Canada.

"She's never gotten a logic game question wrong," said Holliday about Roderique, who is an experienced LSAT instructor.

The Black Law Students' Association at UBC is a chapter of the Black Law Students Association of Canada.

To hear the complete interview with Dinah Holliday on The Early Edition, tap here.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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With files from The Early Edition