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Why Give | Impact stories

Someone in their corner: A law student’s dedication

For law student Sophia Matthew, her experience in a law practice showed her vividly how someone who can navigate the legal system can help those in need.


“I worked at a firm that specialized in family law before coming to UBC,” says Sophia, “and just being able to see, in a real way, how much it meant to people, to have someone in their corner, is an amazing experience! So that’s what I want to do for people.”

Growing up in Vancouver, Sophia was aware of how highly-regarded and competitive the Peter A. Allard School of Law is. Her experience in family law inspired her to apply. She took to it well, placing in the top 3.57% of her cohort of almost 200 students in the 1L year and improving her GPA in the 2L year. She served as this year’s Co-President of OutLaws (Allard’s LGBTQ2+ advocacy group), adapting to COVID-19 by coordinating a surplus budget donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Sophia won the Singleton Reynolds Prize in Torts, the Law Foundation of British Columbia Public Interest Award, and the Borden Ladner Gervais Professional Excellence Award, all donor-funded awards which recognized the leadership roles she has taken on during law school.

“I am very grateful,” says Sophia of the awards, “I worked exceptionally hard and studied to get here and place near the top of my class. To have that recognition and also to receive financial support is great.”

More recognition was forthcoming in her second year as Sophia was recruited to be a 2020 Summer Associate at a New York City law firm on Wall Street and will be returning again as an associate in the fall of 2021. While an offer to work in a Wall Street law firm is impressive, Sophia is still drawn to the individual — the one who needs someone in their corner to help. She did this in her role as a clinic head for the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP), which advocates on behalf of disadvantaged clients.

“In LSLAP, we have low-income clients come in, and they get to present whatever problem they have to us, and we’re often able to do something,” says Sophia. “For instance, I had a client accused of shoplifting. He came in, was able to convey his story to me, and I was able to work with the Crown and get his charges stayed. I appreciate how the law can benefit folks on a widespread scale, but on an individual level, here’s somebody I was able to help — and make a difference in their life.”