Alberta Rural Law Opportunities

Testimonials


Name: Steven Tymiak

Law School: University of Alberta
Placement: New Beginning Law

Shadowing in St. Paul was more than I could have expected. The closeness of the lawyers to the clients and the community was unparalleled. It seemed they knew everyone that passed by. There was a sense that their work directly and significantly impacts the lives of those around them.

I had the privilege of attending court with Renée Moore. My introduction to the legal community spoke to the uniqueness of rural practice. In court, I noticed a lot of lawyers, social workers, etc. were staring at me. I realized it was because I stood out since the legal community is very tight knit. They were curious to get to know me. This is not something I have encountered in an urban centre.

Renée and Jerred Moore at New Beginning Law have exceptional personalities which are reflected in their practice. They care about everyone who walks through the door. They have also created an environment that is both hard working and relaxed. I have not been to a firm with genuinely great chemistry among all of the staff. Everyone at the firm, from long term paralegals to new hires, were more like friends than co-workers. With the inviting atmosphere, I felt like I was part of the team. In just one day I made long lasting relationships. This experience was different in the best way possible.

Posted By: User on Aug 19, 2016

Name: Beth Bower

Law School: University of Calgary
Placement: New Beginning Law

Introduction

Before this summer I had never been to St. Paul, Alberta. That all changed on July 24th, when I drove up from Cochrane to job shadow Renée Moore and Jerred Moore at their firm, New Beginning Law. I was able to make this connection using the ARLO website, which I was pleased to discover this spring. I’m currently going into my third year of law at the University of Calgary, and I’m using the ARLO website to help in my search for articles.

My Experience

Renée and Jerred—and everyone at New Beginning Law (Margaret, Rhonda, Eveline, Brittany, and Cheyenne)—were amazing hosts. After signing a confidentiality agreement, I was immediately involved in firm life. The first day I watched Renée operating as duty counsel, and saw how the Provincial Court family docket ran. 

Then, over the course of the week, I was also able to observe client meetings, trial preparation, trial resolution, and drafting affidavits. I got a feel for the day to day rhythm of a small firm (hint: it’s busy!). As an urban student, one thing I wasn’t expecting was driving more once I got there. I learned rural lawyers should expect to travel for Court.  This turned out to be another fun opportunity though, because I got to observe Provincial Court in St. Paul, Cold Lake, and Athabasca. It was interesting to see the different styles of each judge.

Advice

Bring snacks! But really, doesn’t this apply to every situation life throws us? My more legally minded advice would be to ask if you can sit in with a paralegal. These hardworking people know an invaluable amount about drafting legal documents and the clients’ files. I will also take this chance to urge other law students to try job shadowing in a rural community. It’s the perfect way to get a feel for an area without having to make any big decisions. You’ll also learn a lot about the practice of law that will apply no matter where you end up.

Posted By: User on Aug 15, 2016

Name: Caeleigh Shier

Age: 30
Hometown: Mervin, Saskatchewan
Law School: University of Alberta
Current City: Stony Plain, Alberta
Employment: Birdsell Grant LLP

What’s Work Like?
Working at Birdsell Grant LLP in Stony Plain is challenging, rewarding and enjoyable.

Throughout my articling year and first year as a lawyer, I was exposed to a broad range of practice areas, including real estate, corporate, commercial, family, wills, estate administration, civil litigation, employment law, agricultural law, municipal law, and even a bit of criminal (traffic) law. I was encouraged to take on many different kinds of files, under the supervision of senior lawyers, with the goal of becoming a well-rounded lawyer and also for the purpose of making an informed decision about which areas of law I wish to practice.

As a part of my articles, I completed a clerkship at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. During my clerkship, I spent quite a bit of time observing court. I initially thought I wanted to practice in the area of civil litigation; however, after I started working at Birdsell Grant LLP, I soon realized I much prefer a solicitor’s practice. As I gained more experience, I was encouraged to focus on areas that interest me. I now practice mainly in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, financing, corporate and commercial law, agricultural law,municipal law, wills and estate administration.

Every day in my job is different. I spend most of my time interacting with clients, either in person, or via telephone or email. I also spend quite a bit of time preparing and review agreements and other documents.

When you first start out as a lawyer, mentorship is very important. One of the best parts of working at a smaller firm is that I have the benefit of mentorship from the senior lawyers at my firm, and at the same time, I am also encouraged to take the lead on my own client files.


Challenges?
One of the most challenging parts of my job has been maintaining a healthy balance between work and my personal life. When I first started out as a lawyer, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could. I was also interested in so many different areas of law that I often ended up taking on more work that I could reasonably handle. This resulted in working long hours and neglecting my friends, family, and personal interests. Luckily for me, I work at a firm where we are genuinely encouraged to be healthy human beings, which includes maintaining a personal life and pursuing interests outside of work. With great advice from senior lawyers in my firm, I eventually learned to manage my work load more effectively and settled into a lifestyle that is sustainable, enjoyable and truly works for me.


Successes?
For me, getting to know people is one of the most rewarding parts of being a lawyer. I am grateful that even from the first day of my articles, I have been trusted to interact directly with clients. Not only has this made my job interesting and enjoyable, I believe this has also helped me to develop my skills as a lawyer and build my practice more quickly. Although more responsibility can be challenging at times, the support I receive from senior lawyers helps me to manage stressful situations and be confident in my work. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know other lawyers and support staff. My colleagues are now some of my closest friends. Assisting clients and working with other lawyers through complex problems, gaining peoples’ trust, and seeing my clients’ families and businesses grow and change is extremely rewarding. My biggest success as a lawyer thus far is the strength of the relationships I have built with people along the way.

Posted By: User on Apr 4, 2016

Name: George Y. Huang

Law School: University of Calgary (Class of 2015)
Employment: Student-at-Law at Warren Sinclair LLP

What’s Work Like
As an articling student at my firm, I am exposed to a variety of practice with the exception of criminal and family law. My principal, Donna Purcell, Q.C. focuses on civil litigation including personal injury and employment law, so the majority of my files are in that area. While the majority of my work is in litigation, I am also exposed to wills and estates, real estate, corporate, franchise, and intellectual property law. I have many opportunities to attend client meetings with senior lawyers and learn from their practice. I find the experience sitting in and the debrief afterwards very valuable to my future practice of law. Some meetings I have sat in on include judicial dispute resolutions, mediations, franchise agreements, trademark litigation, real estate purchase/sales, writing of wills, commercial sales and leases, and personal injury intakes. One of the benefits working in a Central Alberta is the amount of mentoring time I get from the senior lawyers at my firm.
Another benefit is being able to open my own files under a senior lawyer related to the area of practice. Due to working in a smaller firm, there is less hierarchy and such, I am given more responsibility in maintaining my own files. I am given great freedom on how to satisfy the client’s demands as per client instructions. One thing not taught in law school classes is file management especially keeping correspondences, maintaining billings, and the general practice of operating a business. I admit that there is more work in maintaining my own files compared to working on someone else’s file for a specific task. However, I feel through these experiences, I am learning the foundation to eventually build my own practice in the firm.

Challenges
One of the biggest challenges of moving to Red Deer was moving to a new city. At first work was the focus of my attention. However, I realized a support network is important . While I have met many great people at work, I eventually wanted to meet people who was not involved in law. At first, meeting new people was hard, especially people my age. Eventually, I was slowly able to meet new people through my church, political parties, and other hobbies of interest. It also helped that Red Deer is only a little more than an hour from Calgary or Edmonton so visiting friends is not hard. Hence, if you are considering moving to a new city, you will eventually have to figure out your social life and work life balance or risk being burned out.

Successes
As a summer student, one of my memorable successes was working with my principal and committee in the summer of 2014 to organize the first annual event, the Central Alberta Bar Summer BBQ and Student Send Off. Our committee was able to get the support of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), the Central Alberta Bar Society (CABS), and local bar. I remember this task was seemed distant when we first started. However, with sponsorships from the CBA, CABS, and 5 law firms, we had the financial support to attract politicians, the Deans of Alberta’s two law schools, the judiciary, and local lawyers to share the benefits of practicing in Central Alberta with many keen young students. The event was well attended and I was happy to meet so many new people.

Posted By: User on Sep 24, 2015

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