The following article is written by students of the Modern Greek Language course MGR300 (University of Toronto, Fall 2019) as part of their research on Greek community organizations in Canada:
The Hellenic Canadian Lawyers Association (HCLA) is an organization that is comprised of lawyers, judges and law students of Hellenic origin. It was founded in 1990 and has as its overriding goal to strengthen and promote the bonds within the Hellenic Canadian legal community. It seeks to educate and increase the public understanding of the legal profession. It also helps to create professional opportunities for its members through its network. Finally, It offers educational programs and seminars that promote legal education to the Hellenic community in Canada.
What purpose does the HCLA serve in the Greek Canadian Community?
“A main purpose, is that the HCLA offers role models to future law students and lawyers of Hellenic descent. There is a saying that “You can’t be what you can’t see”. Ιt is so helpful for someone in high school or university to think that they, too, may become a lawyer if they have actual role models – the HCLA offers many. Perhaps, some of the more experienced lawyers apart of the HCLA who have gone before them and can offer them support, advice, encouragement and opportunities”
– Gina Alexandris, Past President
In support of its objectives, the HCLA organizes a number of annual social and educational functions, such as the President’s Dinner, the Christmas Cheer, and the Professionals’ Gala which is hosted jointly with the medical and dental Hellenic associations. It also holds a number of more informal gatherings such as the “Under 8 after 8 event” intended for Greek articling students and new lawyers to meet and network. Every year, the HCLA offers the Justice Andromache Karakatsanis Student Scholarship and to date has awarded over $65,0000 to 32 students. Finally, the HCLA has put together a very useful Lawyer’s Directory where members can look up Greek Canadian lawyers and find out information about their practice and obtain contact information.
In what ways can Greek Canadian students benefit from the HCLA?
“We are privileged to have members with over 40 years of experience in the law and across a wide range of practices and skills. There are those who work in the traditional streams, such as large, medium and small law firms. But there are also a number of members who work for government, who are Crown Attorneys, and who work in non-conventional positions. Of course the Association has at least three members who are judges, Justices Karakatasanis, Tzimas and Stribopoulos. The wealth of knowledge through the members offers students and young lawyers a wealth of information on the legal profession and directions that each might pursue.”
– Justice Ria Tzimas, Past Board Member
Indeed, the HCLA offers a phenomenal Mentorship program, “Μέντωρ”. This program is intended to facilitate the interaction between experienced lawyers, new lawyers, and students in law school. The mentors help by providing guidance and advice to individuals in the legal community. The mentors also help identify possible networking opportunities and develop relationships within the legal community. The relationship between the mentor and the mentee is viewed as a two-way relationship where both can learn from each other.
The HCLA is an association that every person of Hellenic descent in the legal community should want to join. It promotes the interaction and support of Greek Canadian professionals in the legal community. Students and younger lawyers should definitely join as the benefits they can gain from the experienced lawyers are vast. Applications may be submitted online. The annual membership fee is $100 for lawyers, $50 for students.
Why should all Greek Canadian Legal Professionals be involved in the HCLA?
“Younger lawyers should join to meet other lawyers in the community as they can gain guidance and assistance from more experienced layers. If you have a specialized practice and other members have a case in your specialty they can refer the case to you and if you are a sole practitioner you would want to meet other lawyers to develop your practice. Furthermore, if you are an experienced lawyer you can give back to the community and act as a mentor.”
– Greg Kanargelidis, Past President