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Donors establish first-ever student award to support incoming Black Canadian students at Allard Law

The new award will support 15 incoming Black Canadian JD students with their tuition and fees over the next five years, thanks to a generous gift from five donors.

The Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC is pleased to announce a generous donation from the Honourable Judge David St. Pierre, the Honourable Justice Selwyn Romilly (B.A. 1963, LL.B. 1966), Matthew Nathanson (LL.B. 1997), and two anonymous donors to establish the Allard School of Law’s first-ever student award dedicated solely to supporting incoming Black Canadian JD students.

This $225,000 fund, which includes a contribution from UBC, will support 15 incoming law students with their tuition and fees over the next five years.

The Hon. Judge David St. Pierre practiced criminal law as a partner of Cobb, St. Pierre, Lewis, Barristers and Solicitors before being appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 2009. The Hon. Justice Selwyn Romilly was appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 1974 and elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1995. He was the first Black judge named to any court in British Columbia. Matthew Nathanson is a criminal defence lawyer practicing out of downtown Vancouver. Together, with two anonymous donors they established this award to support Black students as they begin their legal education.

“The Allard School of Law is deeply honoured to be the recipient of this incredible gift, which will be life-changing for the students who are its beneficiaries. We know that student financial aid is just one of the barriers that Black pre-law students may face in deciding to attend law school, and this award will make the decision to choose the Allard School of Law for their legal education easier,” says Dean pro tem Janine Benedet, QC.

Professor Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC, noted: “UBC is committed to a learning environment that is inclusive for all students, and we share the aspirations of these generous donors to provide opportunities for Black students in their pursuit of a legal education. We are pleased to add our support to this ‘first of its kind’ award in the Allard School of Law, increasing the number of students who will benefit for years to come.”

When asked what impact they hope this gift will have on the future of the legal profession, St. Pierre, Romilly and Nathanson shared this message, “A representative Justice system is a healthy Justice system. Recent events have brought into focus issues of racial inequality that must be addressed with more than just words. We hope this student award will provide a gateway to more Black voices being heard in the legal profession. More Black law students means more Black lawyers and more Black judges. This is an important first step towards real, substantive change. We are pleased to be able to play a part in propelling such change.”