The Iranian Legal Professionals of Ontario (ILPO) got together last Thursday at Zaffron Restaurant for the first networking event of 2012 called Legally Delicious.
ILPO co-founder and lawyer Behrouz Amouzgar, Toronto-based lawyer Ali Ehssasi, law student Shiva Sepehr and law clerk Mahsa Pezeshki spoke to Salam Toronto about the importance of networking for legal professionals.
Osgoode Hall Law School Masters student Shiva Sepehr, 25, is currently working as an intern for consulting firm Pace Global Advantage and said the network has provided her with not only advice but also friendship.
“I met a lady (at last week’s networking event) who got her bachelor’s degree in Iran,” said Sepehr, who arrived to Canada eleven months ago. “It was interesting to meet people who are in the same situation as I am. I haven’t had a chance to meet any Iranians since I arrived.”
Mr. Ehsassi, who has previously worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa, said there was a rather large void and need for a legal community organization. And he admitted that such a need has allowed the group to thrive and grow to almost 200 members less than one year after its launch.
“I think so far the ILPO has proven to be a smashing success that I would attribute to the foresight of the founders of the group, Behrouz Amouzgar, Atoosa Mahdavian and Bob Nahiddi to establish a few things; first, it’s a non-hierarchical, flat, and member-driven organization,” said Ehsassi.
The ILPO is a non-hierarchical organization with no formal board of directors. ILPO co-founder Behrouz Amouzgar said the group is following a “bottom-up model” where members volunteer to be part of committees focused on particular tasks.
Ms. Pezeshki, 31, who has been a law clerk at Miller Thomson for five years, was a volunteer for the ILPO events committee and said for newer members, a hierarchical system may be intimidating.
“It [non-hierarchical system] creates the feeling of inclusiveness, which is good for new members and students and people who may not be too familiar with the organization,” said Pezeshki.
One of the main goals of the ILPO is to establish a mentorship program for law students coming out of law school, an option Pezeshki considers immensely valuable for new lawyers and legal professionals
But aside from mentoring, the ILPO is busy setting up other initiatives that members will be taking advantage of in the near future.
“As for future projects, we have the tribute to (Dr.) Shirin Ebadi coming up which is organized by the Law Society of Upper Canada and in building a relationship with ILPO they have asked us to assist them,” Amouzgar said in an email note. “We are also working on setting up a pro-bono club at a community centre to provide Iranians with free legal advice [every] month.”