Meet our first ever Black Legal Mentor-in-Residence, Samantha Peters, JD’ 16, a lawyer, writer, researcher, educator, and advocate

Posted on Friday, October 16, 2020

Samantha Peters standing wearing her court attire

Samantha Peters, JD ’16, is a proud alumna who lives law differently.

Samantha has joined the Faculty of Law on a part-time basis for the 2020-2021 academic year as the Black Legal Mentor-in-Residence. In this role, Samantha will provide one-on-one and group academic and career mentorship to Black law students, and will provide expertise in the development of supportive programming and anti-racism initiatives.

A born communicator, she was recently selected as the first-ever winner of the Writing Her In Student Essay Competition by the CBA Women Lawyers Forum for her paper “Making Social Context Education Mandatory: Why Cultural Competency Should Matter in the Courtroom”. Fun fact, she had originally written this essay in Dean Dodek (then Professor)’s Professional Responsibility class. She was called to the Alberta Bar in 2020 and will be called to the Bar of Ontario on October 30th, 2020.

“It initially felt surreal when I first found out that I was the winner of the Canadian Bar Association's Women Lawyers Forum's inaugural essay contest.  After taking a moment to process the exciting news, I felt incredibly grateful to be acknowledged for doing the kind of work that I always wanted to do.  The reality is that there is not always space in the legal profession for Black people to critically examine, name and actively challenge the ways in which "isms" such as anti-Black racism and sexism show up in the law, without consequence.  So, to be able to unapologetically write about anti-Black racism and misogynoir in the law and why judicial education ought to be grounded in critical race theory and intersectionality in the context of Bill C-5 (An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code), was really affirming.” – Samantha Peters

Samantha was also selected as one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada 2020 by the Canadian International Black Women Event. The virtual awards ceremony will take place on October 17, 2020. This award is a testament to the many ways that she has been giving back to the legal community, including by conducting anti-Black racism training at organizations in the labour and legal sector. This September she conducted a session as part of the Faculty’s virtual Orientation for 1L students, staff and Faculty members, a few weeks before her formal role with the Faculty was confirmed.

“The future of law is changing, and I am really looking forward to not only sharing the ways in which I have used my legal training to do justice work, but also thinking through other possibilities with incoming law students.” – Samantha Peters

Samantha strives to present law in practical ways and to convey to her audience that they too can have a positive impact on the world they live in.  

She prides herself in situating law in contemporary examples to showcase the concepts and implications of the law on people’s lives. Some examples of the topics she tackled in her articles are the Ontario licensing process and how Employers can better support Black Employees during the pandemic. She chose to wait four years before completing the lawyer licensing process. She took that time to seize different opportunities and work in human rights consultancy and provincial politics fields.

“The benefits to choosing my own path in law is that I am able to be creative, entrepreneurial, innovative and intentional about the kind of work that I do.  In my legal career, I have worked with legal clinics in Toronto, Ottawa and New York City.  I have also worked on law reform initiatives, developed legal education, worked in politics, reviewed policy as well as worked as a legislative researcher.”  

“In the first semester of my first year of law school, I decided that I wanted to "do law differently", despite what I saw on TV, in movies or was encouraged to do by my law school peers.  I am happy to say that in making that decision seven years ago, all of the detours and "risks" that I have taken in my career to date have enabled me to do exactly that.”

Students may book appointments with Samantha via The Source Appointments Tab (appointment type: Black Legal Mentoring) as of October 5, 2020.


A few details about Samantha Peters (she/her/hers) 

Samantha Peters, JD ’16, is a lawyer, writer, researcher and educator, with a focus on labour, employment and human rights law.  Samantha completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, her graduate studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and is an alumna of the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law with specializations in public law and dispute resolution and professionalism. 

Samantha completed her bilingual articles at a national union in Ottawa.  Following the completion of her articles, she took a hiatus from the practice of law to engage in work at the intersection of law, education and policy, ranging from law reform initiatives to legal education to legislative research including as an Education and Social Policy Researcher at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.  

Samantha is deeply committed to community and legal work related to racial justice, anti-violence and workers’ rights. In 2016, she co-created a one-year public legal education initiative funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario which put complex legislation into plain language, and began with Ontario’s carding regulations.  Samantha’s writing and commentary on topics such as Ontario’s licensing process, judicial education, professional responsibility and access to justice has appeared in Huffington Post Canada, CBA/ABC’s National Magazine, the Ontario Bar Association’s JUST Magazine, NOW Toronto, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, ByBlacks, SLAW, Global News, the Toronto Star, and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.


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