Alexandra McLennan

Our students talk about #excellencewithoutbarriers

Alexandra McLennan, JD 2019, Newton Rowell Bursary Recipient

Hometown: Port Hood, NS

Undergraduate degree[s]: B.Sc. Physics

Undergraduate institution[s]: Mount Allison University

I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a lawyer. I was teaching in Italy at the time I applied to law school. I knew I wanted a challenging career and an education where I would learn how to better write, read and speak. I also wanted to build on the rigorous logical thinking skills I had developed in my Physics degree. Law school seemed like the right fit.

I applied to U of T law school for two reasons. The first and most important for me was that it is the best law school in Canada. The second was that it seemed the most practical choice. I live less than a ten-minute walk from campus in student family housing; there is day care In my building and with financial aid and government funding, for me U of T law is financially more accessible than other law schools. Law school has given me everything I wanted.

I worked at Osler this summer, and I hope to become a tax lawyer. I have also become increasingly passionate about women in the law. The statistics are sometimes frightening: equal numbers of men and women enter big law firms, but men far outnumber women in higher-level positions. I feel fortunate to have had my children in law school. Not only do I have the practical advantage of starting my career with my children aged 2 and 4, but having children in law school has given me a chance to develop and understand myself simultaneously as a lawyer (to be) and a mother.

I can go to law school and look after (and enjoy) my family.  I do not receive family support from my mother or father so faculty bursaries and government funding make it possible for me to go to school. To put this another way, my bursary is a necessary factor, along with a supportive partner and the family life infrastructure provided by the University of Toronto which allows me to go to school and have a family. I would not be able to attend law school without this support.

To my donor, thank you! I feel like I am looking forward to a bright future where I can have a challenging and fulfilling career and a happy family life. Most people I speak with think that law school and family life can’t go together, and they question how I can do what I do. There are a lot of factors that have gotten me and my family through the first couple of years of law school and financial aid from U of T is one of the most important. Thank you for helping to give me a future I am excited about.

Student financial aid gives everyone a chance to go to law school. When I was pregnant, my partner and I decided to come back to Canada because we saw it as a country that valued merit over influence. Financial aid is important because it demonstrates and makes practical a merit-based system.

From my experience, working as a lawyer puts you in a privileged position. I think it is worth seriously considering how future lawyers can be drawn from the widest selection of people from across Canada on a merit-based system. However, for a number of Canadians, the choice to go to law school or not is dependent on whether we can afford it. For me, financial aid has made possible what initially seemed impossible. I would encourage future donors to consider the impact of their monetary donation on a future student’s life.