Closeup of Micheal Smith

Community is Core: Micheal Smith

March 4, 2024

Nicolas Riccio

Community Voices

UTM grad forges a path in law thanks to community support and staying true to himself.

For U of T Mississauga graduate Micheal Smith, pursuing law school wasn’t always a sure thing. He credits the university’s Black Future Lawyers Conference, which he attended in his third and fourth year, for showing him what’s possible. “That event confirmed that there would be a space for people like me in the law profession,” Smith says.

“I felt as if there would be a network of people that had my back, who would be guiding me and advising me.”

Even so, studying law at Osgoode Law School came with challenges. “Entering a predominantly white profession, I felt imposter syndrome… I needed a group of people with similar experiences in my corner.”

He discovered a peer network through the school’s Black Law Student Association chapter, whose members bolstered Smith’s confidence and made him feel supported. In his upper years, Smith returned the favour: he volunteered frequently for the association as a Cultural Outreach Officer to help all first-year students feel like a part of the school from day one.

Finding creative outlets outside of class also helped buoy Smith’s confidence. He began writing for the Arts & Culture column of Obiter Dicta, Osgoode’s student newspaper, which honed his writing skills while furthering his passions for music, television and movies —something Smith values deeply. “It’s important to remain in touch with who you are,” he advises.

As an undergraduate at UTM, Smith’s activism also shaped his conviction that lawyers need to contribute to positive social change. When lobbying against proposed OSAP cuts alongside fellow UTMSU volunteers in 2019, Smith experienced that “change is driven by the people who are on the ground, by those who are experiencing injustice and raising those issues to the attention of those in power.”

Currently an articling student at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Smith plans to keep that lesson in mind for his own future law practice: “Lawyers should keep informed about the causes they held dearly when they were younger and not lose touch with their values”. He currently displays this commitment as a volunteer mentor through Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP’s partnership with Law in Action Within Schools, an initiative which exposes high school students to the Canadian legal system and its members.

When giving advice to students interested in law, Smith aims to impart the lessons that have given his career trajectory its principled core: “Remain connected to who you are, seek out people in your corner who can reassure you when you’re facing challenges.”

Learn more about U of T’s Black Future Lawyers Conference here.