By Karen Gross / Photography by Jeff Kirk

From the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Nexus

Sarah Armstrong, LLB 2002, and Cat Youdan, LLB 2002Excellent legal education aside, Sarah Armstrong, LLB 2002, and Cat Youdan, LLB 2002, graduated from the Faculty of Law with a lot to be thankful for. Chiefly, the friendships they formed that endure to this day, and keep them afloat through the highs and lows of life. “Actually this group of 7 women who came together through the course of law school is the same group that still gets together for dinners, takes trips together, and has managed to stay close all these years later,” Youdan says. “Within the group we had different connections about different things,” Armstrong adds. “A couple of us were really involved in human rights advocacy and we still maintain that connection today.”

Both have built very successful legal careers: Youdan as a partner at Blake Cassels and Graydon LLP, advising clients on a wide range of securities and business law matters, and Armstrong as a partner and vice chair of the litigation department at Fasken. Yet their ties to each other and to U of T endure. Armstrong coaches and judges moot competitions and acts as a law school mentor. She’s also a member of the International Human Rights Program’s alumni steering committee. As co-chair of her firm’s summer student and articling programs, Youdan interviews and advises law students, including those from U of T, and has done so for years. “I meet with these students,” she says. “You learn a bit about them and you know what it’s taken for them to attend school and the worries they have about the debt they will have when they graduate from law school.”

It’s that worry that Youdan and Armstrong hope to help alleviate, with a generous joint contribution to a bursary in their names. “I care because I feel like I’m in a fortunate position to have ended up where I am in my career,” Armstrong says. “I see the challenges posed by rising tuition and Toronto’s cost of living and I’d like to help, in whatever small way.”  Adds Youdan, “I also hope it would help someone participate more fully when they’re at the school. That it enables them to feel less stress. I think worrying about debt could really impact your ability to engage fully in the law school experience.”

Call it giving back, or better yet another act of friendship between two women who’ve shared so much personal joy and professional satisfaction. “I really enjoyed my law school experience at U of T, my friendships and the education that put me on a path to a career that I love,” Youdan says. “I feel very lucky to do this, and it’s especially fun to do it with Sarah.”