Amanda Carling

Precedent Setter Awards 2020: Amanda Carling

Meet the lawyer who is revolutionizing legal education
Amanda Carling

Amanda Carling

Manager of 
Indigenous Initiatives, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Called to the bar in 2013

Growing up Métis in Winnipeg, Amanda Carling was never under the illusion that Canada’s justice system is colour blind. But it wasn’t until she stepped into a Winnipeg courtroom that the depth of that inequality became clear. In 2007, as a criminology student at the University of Manitoba, she spent a day shadowing a judge in set-date court. “Every single person who came before the court was Indigenous,” she recalls. “Many were kids, some without a parent present. I thought, What chance do they have?

Amanda CarlingCarling went to law school in part because of that experience. In 2009, she started law school at the University of Toronto. At the time, she planned to become a criminal-defence lawyer. But as an articling student at the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted, now called Innocence Canada, she was frustrated by the daily grind of defence work. “We would put all this time and effort into undoing one wrongful conviction,” says Carling. “But there was so little being done to prevent the problem at a more fundamental level.” And so she decided to devote her career to driving systemic change.

Now 36, she’s the manager of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto’s faculty of law. In this role, she supports Indigenous students and injects Indigenous-related programming into the curriculum. Because her work is about connecting with the next generation of legal talent, Carling is able to have a far-reaching impact on the entire justice system.

Recently, she developed material for an annual seminar on wrongful convictions. The professor of the course is Kent Roach, who taught Carling when she was a student. “Now that she’s back and raising awareness on these issues in a way that’s never been done before, it’s just so wonderful,” says Roach. “And it’s so needed.”

Don’t forget to read about our other amazing winners.

This story is from our Summer 2020 Issue.

Photography by Steph Martyniuk; set design by James Reiger; hair and makeup by Michelle Calleja