Students and lawyers mingle at a networking reception
Students and lawyers mingle at a networking reception.

April 15, 2024

A closer look at the law school’s proactive mental wellness initiatives

Donor gift helps launch new connection opportunities for law students

In 2023, Lawson Lundell LLP, a leading innovative law firm in Calgary, generously partnered with UCalgary Law by providing a $100,000 gift aimed at enhancing student well-being. A year later, this contribution has manifested in transformative ways, particularly through the inception of the UCalgary Connects Program. 

Growing need supported by research

In a 2022 study published by the University of Sherbrooke, it was reported that legal professionals between the ages of 31 and 35, 67 per cent experience burnout, and 35.7 per cent experience anxiety. The UCalgary Connects Program, a mentorship initiative powered by the Ten Thousand Coffees software, represents a pivotal outcome of collaboration between UCalgary Law and Lawson Lundell LLP to address these alarming statistics. 

This program is designed to foster peer support among students across different academic years within the faculty. Leveraging sophisticated algorithms and data analysis, the program strategically pairs incoming first-year students with upper-year counterparts who share common academic, career, and personal interests. On a monthly basis, participating students receive the name of a new connection, facilitating meaningful interactions and support.

Joel Tallerico

Joel Tallerico, president of the Society of Law Students

Results from the faculty-led well-being survey in November 2023 showed that 78 per cent of students reported leaning on relationships to cope with various stresses, and the UCalgary Connects Program addresses these challenges head-on. Joel Tallerico, the current president of the Society of Law Students (SLS), says, "UCalgary Connects makes meaningful connections that help students get through law school. The program aids in adding more of a collegial-feel between all the various years."

Connections allow students to learn from experience of others 

The UCalgary Connects Program has provided a context for first-year students to connect with their peers in the upper years. First-year students receive invaluable information from their mentors’ experiences, and mentors are equipped with the skills and opportunities to help shape positive experiences for those who aspire to enter the profession themselves. 

Where does Tallerico hope to see this program in the future? "Our hope is to get more people to participate and sign up. The value of the program will be far more robust as people talk about their positive experiences, and we see potential for adding members of faculty and other members in the broader legal community to function as mentors." 

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