Job hunting can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’ve been out of work for some time. And while a solid resume certainly plays a role, a confident and professional presence is often what seals the deal for a  potential employer.

But dressing to impress for that first interview, not to mention the first week on the job, can be a real challenge when you’re on a tight budget and waiting for that first paycheque. That’s where Dress For Success comes in; a charity that helps women worldwide enter or re-enter the workforce by providing professional clothing and personal development training, including resume advice and interview skills.

DFS is a volunteer-led organization that was founded in 1997 and has since grown to 150 affiliates across 27 countries worldwide. The Toronto location opened in 2009 and serves approximately 1,300 local women annually through its Suiting, Career Service and Working Women programs. It works closely with Dress Your Best, a program started in 2000 that collects clothing and offers suiting appointments for disadvantaged men across the Greater Toronto Area, serving around 600 clients annually.

On July 18 and August 15, Baker McKenzie teams volunteered at DFS Toronto, sorting through clothing donations and restocking items as part of our Employment & Compensation Practice Group’s recent partnership with the organization, led by Professional Support Lawyer Susan MacMillan and Professional Development Manager Katrina Henn.

Team on July 18


“Our practice group deals with employment and workplace issues so it’s a natural fit for us to partner with Dress For Success and to support Dress Your Best. Our lawyers, business professionals and students were delighted to volunteer at DFS and the experience was truly rewarding,” Susan said. “Organizing and hanging clothes, moving boxes and tidying shelves seem like small tasks in isolation, but they feel consequential when they’re part of a big result in people’s lives and the DFS staff couldn’t have been more welcoming.”

Team on August 15


“We’ve also had an enthusiastic response across our Toronto office during June’s Bay Street Clothing Drive resulting in more than 20 boxes of professional clothing and accessories being donated to the two programs,” Katrina added.

Earlier this year, a member of Baker McKenzie’s Washington, DC office, Evelyn Chumbow, visited our Toronto office for a staff luncheon during which she shared her harrowing and inspiring journey from being a victim of human trafficking to becoming a champion for change on “modern day slavery” as she called it. Evelyn said that she went to her local DFS to get professional clothing in preparation for her new life. Her experience is another reason why the Firm is proud to partner with DFS.

DFS Toronto holds its annual fall fashion fundraiser, Polished, on November 8 and is always looking for donations and volunteers. To learn how you can help, visit: