On June 27, our office played host to the Firm’s regional 1L Diversity Roundtable series as part of our Diversity Week celebration in Toronto.

We invited 35 students from six law schools across Ontario — University of Windsor, University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall, Queen’s University, Western University and McGill University — to learn more about our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and to share their thoughts with us and each other on these issues in an open forum.

Managing Partner Kevin Coon spoke of the Firm’s commitment to diversity, both locally and globally, saying, “We take these initiatives very seriously and this is a chance for you to get to know a little more about us.”

1L students networking prior to roundtable sessions.

The event featured three roundtables, each with its own theme: Summer Program, Associate Life and Firm Culture. Two of our lawyers sat in at each table, guiding the discussions and encouraging students to ask questions and share their thoughts or concerns. Our lawyers then rotated through the tables so all students had a chance to engage on each of the three topics.

Students raised questions on everything from Baker McKenzie’s “Famous ‘culture of friendship’ we keep hearing about” to how our students and lawyers work across borders and interact with our other offices around the world.

Baker McKenzie’s North America Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Anna Brown, also attended the event, engaging students on various issues drawing from her more than 15 years experience designing, implementing and directing diversity initiatives.

David Gadsden, partner in our Toronto office’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group and co-chair of our Student Program, spent time with each roundtable, offering his own insights to the students.

“The Diversity Roundtable event is a wonderful opportunity to sit down with the lawyers of tomorrow, in an intimate setting, and discuss issues that matter to them,” David said. “I was very impressed by the level of student engagement on issues ranging from diversity and inclusion initiatives to the fast-evolving nature of the legal practice. We have already received reams of positive feedback from the attending students, praising Baker McKenzie’s focus on these important issues and expressing gratitude for being involved in this truly unique event.”

North America Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Anna Brown (Top Centre-Right) addresses students on Firm Culture.

The event in Toronto caps a series of 1L Diversity Roundtables in June across Baker McKenzie’s offices in North America, with events held in New York, Houston, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago and Miami earlier in the month.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for students because they want to get to know a firm before they start applying for summer positions,” said Eleni Skederidis, HR supervisor who is also on the Student Committee and oversees the full application process of our Summer and Articling Student Programs.  “The next opportunity for students to continue to learn about Baker McKenzie comes at our annual Summer Open House, which will be held on Thursday, July 13.”