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New Faculty of Law Instructor to develop program for Internationally Trained Lawyers

Project aims to improve access to justice, diversity in legal profession

November 17, 2023 — 

Practicing professional instructor Tamra Alexander is not just here at Robson Hall to teach Wills and Succession and Commercial Law. Teaching and connecting with law students inspires her, but she is also tasked with a very important mission: to develop from the ground up, a program where newcomers to Manitoba and Canada who were trained as lawyers in other countries can re-train to resume their profession here in Canada.

Known as an Internationally Trained Lawyer program or ITL, the program will make it possible for newcomers to Manitoba who were lawyers in other countries to take the courses required by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation to get up to speed at the University of Manitoba. Until now, lawyers immigrating to Manitoba have not had access to a locally-organized resource or centre to help them find where and how to take the required courses in Canadian law to qualify to practice law in Manitoba. Alexander is helping to bring Manitoba up to speed with other provinces where such programs are available, so Manitoba-based internationally-trained lawyers don’t have to leave their new home to study elsewhere.

Tamra Alexander is a Practicing Professional Instructor tasked with developing a program for internationally-trained lawyers at Robson Hall.

Tamra Alexander is a Practicing Professional Instructor tasked with developing a program for internationally-trained lawyers at Robson Hall.

“I am very excited to be assisting with the development of a program at the University of Manitoba that will be designed to address many of the hurdles that internationally trained lawyers face when they arrive in Manitoba hoping to practise law,” said Alexander.  “This project has given me a wonderful opportunity to reach out to and deepen the Faculty of Law’s strong connection with stakeholders in the legal community, including the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation.”

Dr. Richard Jochelson, Dean of Law, explained why it is so important for UM to offer this training. “Addressing the challenges faced by internationally trained lawyers (ITLs)  by proposing a new program is a reflection of our commitment to the principles of justice, inclusivity, and diversity,” he said. “This proposed program at Robson Hall represents a critical step towards making the legal profession more accessible, not only for ITLs but also for the diverse immigrant communities they serve. It aligns with the province’s commitment to fair registration practices and creates a clear pathway for ITLs, fostering connections within the legal profession, and ultimately, strengthening our pursuit of justice in Manitoba.”

By establishing a program that embodies transparency, fairness, and diversity, we not only empower ITLs but also advance the values of the UM Faculty of Law. We are confident that this program can have a lasting, positive impact on the legal landscape in our province.

– Richard Jochelson, Dean of Law

As part of her role, Alexander has started reaching out to local practicing professionals with international training.

“This project promises to have a positive impact not only for newly arrived internationally trained lawyers but also on the goals of improving access to justice in Manitoba, enriching program options at Robson Hall and enhancing access to and diversity within the legal profession,” she said.

Tamra Alexander came to Robson Hall from Algonquin College in Ontario where she was a professor in and coordinator of the Paralegal Graduate Certificate program. Prior to that, she lectured at the University of Ottawa and University of New Brunswick’s Faculties of Law. She had practised law at the global Canadian business law firm of Stikeman Elliott LLP for eight years during which time she was seconded to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal for eighteen months. She has practised law in both English and French and has practised primarily in the areas of international trade, competition and federal administrative law.

Alexander obtained a B.A. (Hons) with Distinction from the University of Toronto majoring in International Relations and Economics with a minor in French, which has served her throughout her legal career. Her law degree was also from the University of Toronto and she completed an LL.M. at McGill University with a thesis titled The Canadian International Trade Tribunal: Canada’s Emerging Trade Jurisprudence. While completing her LL.M., she worked as a research assistant to Judge R. St. J. Macdonald then of the European Court of Human Rights. She has continued to publish academically throughout her legal career, including most recently editing and contributing to Derek Fazakas’ text book Wills and Estates, Revised 5th edition (Emond, 2023), and editing Canadian Business Law, 4th edition (Emond, 2018 and 2023). She also recently contributed a chapter on “Privacy Rights and Cybersecurity” in Francis Syms & David Smith’s Cybersecurity in Canada: Operations, Investigations and Protection (Emond, 2023).

Away from work, Alexander has fostered dogs for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, and has spent time regularly volunteering for humanitarian organizations.

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