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Alumni Feature: Leanna Katz

Leanna Katz is an OLIP alum from the 2012-2013 cohort. Before OLIP, Leanna graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts and Science with a major in Political Science and minor in French. She found this to be a strong educational background for OLIP and went into the program right after her undergrad!    

For Leanna, law school was her next step after OLIP. She went on to earn her JD at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Directly after law school, Leanna went on to clerk at the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which was a great experience to bridge both the academic world and law. She enjoyed it so much that she then applied to clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada and was hired for the next year. In the year between, she practiced commercial litigation for Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York which was a very eye-opening experience. It helped to broaden her understanding about commercial litigation and how larger financial institutions operate. She also did a lot of pro bono work in the areas of refugee law and housing law that was very meaningful for her.   

Since her undergraduate degree, Leanna had an interest in academia and long thought it might be a path that she could follow. After practicing in New York, she went on to receive her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School. She went back to practicing law again after her master’s but has since returned to academia! Leanna is currently in her second year of her doctorate at McGill’s Faculty of Law.  

During Leanna’s OLIP year, she worked with MPP Mike Colle from the Liberal Party and MPP Christine Elliot from the Conservative Party. It was a very interesting year to be an OLIP intern as Dalton McGuinty, long-term Liberal Premier of Ontario, resigned, leading to a Liberal leadership convention where Kathleen Wynne became the new Premier of Ontario. Leanna found this to be an exciting time, being there to watch it all unfold! Having Wynne become Premier, she thought that she was an exemplary role model.   

The impact OLIP had on Leanna’s career trajectory had less to do with the roles she held but more on how her perspective changed in these roles, especially in the relationship between the legislature and the judiciary. For example, she better understood the role of the judge and how they make their decisions considering what the legislature does. Having observed the decision-making process at the legislature impacted Leanna’s perspective within the legal field.  

The meetings during her OLIP year also were very impactful for Leanna as it gave her perspective on how she envisioned her career path. She found it valuable to hear about others’ impressive careers and how they reflect on them. These meetings gave her a sense of what her goals were for herself and how she might work towards these goals by hearing how others have done it themselves.   

Leanna's advice for the OLIP community emphasizes the importance of being fully present and open to learning from your current surroundings. She recommends cultivate relationships, some can be practical for one's professional life, and others can lead to amazing friendships.  

Leanna has recently read and recommends Erasure by Percival Everett. She hadn’t binge read a book in a while because she reads all day for her PhD. However, she thoroughly enjoyed this book in her free time!   

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