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SALSA Hosts Star-Studded Panel on the South Asian Perspective


A recap of the inaugural Pathways in Law panel

Pathways in Law 2023 panellists and moderators (L-R): Shiv Padam (3L, Osgoode Hall), Justice Russell Juriansz, Sarbjit S. Basra, Prasanna Balasundaram, Jasveen Singh (3L), and Devraj Adajania (2L, LASL). Credit: Jasveen Singh

On February 13, 2023, U of T Law’s South Asian Law Students’ Association (SALSA) hosted the inaugural Pathways in Law: The South Asian Perspective panel, in collaboration with SALSA chapters at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Lincoln Alexander School of Law (LASL). The event was sponsored in part by Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Blakes), who hosted the event at their Toronto office, and the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of Toronto. 

The event brought together panellists from various sectors of the legal profession: Justice Russell Juriansz, the first South Asian judge to be appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal; Sarbjit S. Basra, Managing Partner of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP; and Prasanna Balasundaram, Director of Downtown Legal Services. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the fourth panellist, Ramandeep Grewal, a partner in the Corporate Group at Stikeman Elliott LLP, was unable to attend.

Planning for this event began last August when Shiv Padam, Co-Chair of Osgoode SALSA, reached out to Jasveen Singh (3L), U of T SALSA Co-Chair, and Devraj Adajania, LASL SALSA President, to gauge interest in a collaborative event. 

Countless Zoom calls and conversations between the executive members of the SALSA chapters from the respective schools, including Shiv Padam (3L, Osgoode Hall), Devraj Adajania (2L, LASL), Miina Balasubramaniam (4L JD/MPP), Anisha Sivathas (3L), and Jasveen Singh, went into planning the event. This included various steps, from brainstorming the format of the event to the nitty gritty details of picking a menu for the networking mixer. Members of the planning team assisted by reaching out to Blakes and panellists, and organizing and marketing the event. The assistance of Kyle Elliott, leader of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives at Blakes, was truly invaluable in the planning and execution of the event. 

The event began with the panel portion, where the panellists answered a variety of questions pertaining to their respective professional journeys and their lived experiences as South Asian lawyers. The panel was moderated by Jasveen Singh and Devraj Adajania. The moderators skillfully curated questions which prompted responses that provided student attendees with valuable insights and takeaways for their legal education and budding legal careers. The panellists were asked to discuss their journey in the profession as South Asian practitioners, their thoughts on the evolution of diversity in the legal profession, the importance of mentorship, and general advice for law students. Insightful responses from the panellists based on their diverse perspectives and backgrounds provided for an evening of fruitful discussion. 

The second portion of the evening was a networking mixer, where attendees had the opportunity to mingle with the panellists, other law students, and professionals in the South Asian legal community while enjoying South Asian-inspired light refreshments. Overall, the event had a great turnout with nearly 160 student attendees. 

It was an honour to work alongside our colleagues from Osgoode and LASL to bring together trailblazers in the South Asian legal community with law students who will eventually become future practitioners. Our hope is that this event will run annually and continue to provide a forum to connect South Asian practitioners and law students. Special thanks to the panellists, Blakes, SABA Toronto, the U of T Students’ Law Society, Osgoode SALSA, and LASL SALSA for their support in making this event a success! 

Editor’s Note: Anisha Sivathas and Jasveen Singh are executives of the U of T SALSA. 

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