Donor Profile | Fall 2023

D. H. Gordon Foundation: Furthering Access to Justice in the North

Three Lakehead law students talk to each other as they walk down the steps at the entrance of the PACI Building

Long before the establishment of the D.H. Gordon Foundation Award, David H. Gordon was contributing to the success of future legal practitioners. As part of his 35-year practice in corporate law, he took on the responsibility of mentoring law students, underscoring his belief in the importance of practical education and support for students grappling with new challenges in a large law firm.

"After David passed, many of those students came to say how much they appreciated him making time for them," says Jim Parrott, David's nephew and one of the original trustees of the D.H. Gordon Foundation.

David established the Foundation in 2004 with the aim of helping to improve the lives of others. Under David's direction, the trustees established a list of charities addressing issues that had a personal impact on David and his family. The list included prostate cancer research, as David's father had died of the disease. It also included the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as his mother had died of a heart attack.

After David's passing in 2006, Jim took on the informal role of Chair, and the trustees and team began looking to add to the list of charities, including students in the North, since David had grown up in Northern Ontario.

"Our trust officer said Lakehead University was establishing a law school," Jim says. "That aligned with our wish to support students in the North."

The Foundation has assisted students in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law since its opening in 2013 and has awarded $155,000, with all funds going toward the D.H. Gordon Foundation Award. One of the most coveted awards at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, it began with one student recipient and has grown over the last 10 years to help three students enrolled in the Faculty of Law, based on financial need and a minimum 80% average.

One of this year's three recipients attests to the impact of the award.

"I am very pleased to be a recipient of your generous and substantial award," says 2023 law graduate Elliot McPhail. "Thank you for helping to relieve the financial burden of pursuing a legal education. It is thanks to the generosity of donors like yourselves that this institution exists here! With its combination of high-quality teaching, the integrated practice curriculum, and the practical placement, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law has positioned me well to embark on a rewarding legal career."

The D.H. Gordon Foundation is also committed to advancing Indigenous concerns. This aligns with the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law's commitment to work closely with local First Nations communities and Indigenous organizations and to make Aboriginal and Indigenous law one of its curriculum mandates.

Faculty of Law Dean Dr. Jula Hughes also recognizes the Foundation's invaluable contributions.

"The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law expresses its utmost gratitude to the D.H. Gordon Foundation for their continued support of our program and our remarkable students. The generous annual awards supported by the Foundation enable our students to lessen the financial burden of law school and direct their focus toward meaningful advocacy and study, furthering our commitment to access to justice."

The D.H. Gordon Foundation continues to have a real and positive impact on law students and ensures David Gordon's lasting influence in an area he valued highly.

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