Leena Yousefi

Leena Yousefi
Law graduate Leena Yousefi has created the "Best Lawyering Award" for UVic Law students

Redefining success—the Best Lawyering Award

Charismatic law graduate Leena Yousefi stood confidently before the large crowd of current students and fellow donors at UVic Law’s annual reception and shared wisdom beyond her 35 years…

Success encompasses much more than academic performance. Our imperfections create more space for creativity than perfections do. Talent comes in as many different shapes and forms as we do as human beings.  The biggest and strongest force that lead me to be here today was my failures, my insatiable thirst for overcoming while accepting it and, most importantly, the conviction and belief of others when I doubted or stopped believing in myself.

Strong mentorship at the Law Centre

Leena runs a successful family law practice, YLaw Group, which is growing quickly and earning multiple awards and accolades. But she openly admits it’s taken many knock-backs, and immense support from others, to build her confidence and success. UVic professor Glen Gallins played a key role. He mentored Leena during her clinical term at the Law Centre. “I’ll always be indebted to Glen for everything he taught me,” says Leena. “He placed huge emphasis on mental health, and was the first person who let me know it’s ok not to be perfect all the time.” While working at the Law Centre, Leena saw how she could maximize her talents to achieve anything she wanted. “If I hadn’t done the Law Centre,” she admits, “I’m not sure if I would have pursued a career in law.”

Leena at the podium
Speaking at the law event

A student award with a twist

Shortly after graduating in 2010, Leena began making donations to the Law Centre. When she was ready to make a larger commitment, she consulted Glen on what type of gift would make the biggest impact, and he suggested an award for students.

Leena decided to go ahead and fund a student award, but one with a twist. The award would not be for A+ grades, it would be a more holistic award. One that recognized the unique talents she believes make a good lawyer, talents such as empathy, compassion, interpersonal and networking skills, even business acumen.

At law school, I noticed some of the students with the best lawyer qualities weren’t the shining stars with the highest grades. They flew under the radar somewhat, but those are the types of graduates I would be most likely to hire.

She hopes the award will be the first step towards a different way of looking at success and recognizing potential. She also hopes it will give the recipients a confidence they can take forward in life. Leena says that, “the satisfaction of knowing I’m giving students something positive they can take into the future is the biggest gift I can give myself.”

Of course, recipients can also delight in adding it to their résumè. The “Best Lawyering Award” will most definitely grab a future employer’s attention!