sponsor content: Four reasons to study law abroad

When deciding where to attend law school, most would-be lawyers only consider the few options in Canada. That’s a real shame, since there’s a sea of excellent law schools around the planet. And studying law overseas has a ton of perks, from developing a global network of connections to experiencing the culture of another country. But that’s not all. Here are four reasons why it’s a great idea to go to law school abroad.

1. Law firms want lawyers with international experience

The pace of globalization in the corporate world shows no signs of slowing, which means most law firms have more international businesses as clients than ever. When Canadians study law abroad, then, they’re one step ahead of the game once they start practising. “More and more, law firms are looking for young lawyers who can connect with clients from around the world,” says Kathy Atkins, an associate dean at Bond. “A global degree has never been more advantageous, especially in corporate law.”

2. Classmates become future business connections

Jordan Assaraf, lawyer, Bond University

Jordan Assaraf, Bond University Faculty of Law, Class of 2012

“After I left Bond and started working in Toronto, I realized the network it had opened up for me,” says Jordan Assaraf, a 2012 graduate and third-year associate at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers. He knows lawyers across Canada, who he went to school with. The number one perk of a large network: referrals.

3. Living abroad is a great life experience

Moving away from home to get an undergraduate degree is one thing: there’s no more Mom and Dad to help with groceries and laundry. But going to law school in a different country is quite another: students meet people from all over the globe, experience a new culture and broaden their worldview. “I was able to make a life for myself on my own for two years,” says Liana Rossi, a 2013 Bond graduate and third-year associate at Baker & Company. “It was an amazing experience.”

4. Travel opportunities galore!

When living in another country, vacation hotspots that aren’t easily accessible from Canada are suddenly within reasonable travel distance — and much cheaper to get to. With a home base in Australia, for example, jetting off to places like Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia is easy. Those are just some of the places Assaraf, Rossi and Wadhwa went to while completing their JD in the land Down Under. Because let’s be real: no law student should spend the entire school year with their head buried in textbooks.


This content was paid for by Bond University. Learn more about Bond at bond.edu.au/canada

Major Australian firm looks to expand in Canada

The world’s first publicly traded law firm has Canada in its crosshairs. 

Slater & Gordon, one of the largest law firms in Australia, is “absolutely” considering coming to Canada if the country’s law societies permit non-lawyers to invest in law firms, says Andrew Grech, managing director of the firm. “We are studying the market, trying to make sure that, if the opportunity arises in Canada, we’re in a position to make some intelligent decisions.” 

At the moment, Slater & Gordon can only operate in Australia and the U.K., where non-lawyer investment is legal. 

But that could change soon. The Canadian Bar Association recently said firms with non-lawyer owners, called alternative business structures (ABS), should be legal. And the issue is under discussion at the Law Society of Upper Canada. 

In the meantime, Slater & Gordon continues to grow at a rapid pace. Since the firm went public in 2007, its annual revenue has skyrocketed from $63 million to about $420 million. According to Grech, the firm achieved about 60 percent of that growth by acquiring other firms across Australia and the U.K. 

If Slater & Gordon entered the Canadian market, Grech says it would focus on everyday legal problems, such as family and personal injury law. 

In the Canadian legal community, many fear that publicly traded law firms will ultimately put the interests of shareholders over those of their clients — a concern that Grech dismisses as “nonsense,” so long as the industry remains well regulated. (In fact, the firm’s prospectus warns potential investors that “the duty to the client will prevail over the duty to Shareholders.”)

Grech also says that Slater & Gordon has increased access to justice for everyday people, particularly in the field of personal injury law, which makes up 80 percent of the firm’s global practice. The money the firm has raised from non-lawyer investors, he says, has helped the firm “fund many more cases than we otherwise would have been able to.” 

But Adam Wagman, a partner at Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP in Toronto, says that, at least in Canada, there is no access-to-justice crisis in personal injury law. 

“Do clients have difficulty finding lawyers to handle personal injury cases? Absolutely not,” he says. “All [injured people] need to do is turn on their television, turn on their radio or do a quick Google search and they’ll have many lawyers who will want to take on their case.” 

In his view, the most pressing access-to-justice problems exist in the realms of criminal and family law — and thus law societies should not allow firms such as Slater & Gordon into Canada unless it is clear that doing so will address that need. “If we can get those unrepresented criminal law defendants and family law litigants some representation, and we believe [alternative business structures] are going to help with that, because we have actual empirical evidence that says that it will, I’m all for it.” 

House Call: Designing a dream home without going into debt

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Has anyone ever asked you what you would do if you weren’t a lawyer? My answer is simple. I would be an interior designer. I would spend my days perusing fabric and paint samples, styling bookshelves and mantles, purchasing designer pillows…

Alas, I am not an interior designer. I’m counsel at an insurance company. I am also a recent homeowner. (That’s right — my spouse, a handsome lawyer at BLG, and I tackled the Toronto real estate market and emerged victorious, if somewhat broke.) And suddenly all that spare time reading home magazines and blogs, visiting West Elm and EQ3, attempting DIY projects and scouring HomeSense and flea markets has a real purpose. I’ve basically got to decorate an entire house without spending any money.

Between the pre-inspection dollars, bully offers and bidding wars, our budget for home decor is pretty much non-existent. Our basement needs finishing, the kitchen needs updating and don’t even get me started on the bathroom (the toilet wobbles when you sit down).

Saving for these big-ticket items has forced me to be very smart about where I spend my design dollars. To that end, I’m DIY-ing, picking up pieces from Craigslist and reinventing old furniture with a splash of new paint. I colour-dip, spray-paint and Ikea-hack. If it looks good and it’s wallet-sensitive, I’ve likely tried it and/or bought it.

My goal for this column is to help you find your own inspiration through my adventures in interiors. I’ll show you some great online resources I use for my art and pieces for the home. I’ll help you use cheap-and-easy interior design apps to create your own mood boards and visions for your own spaces. I’ll show you step-by-step DIY projects that I’ve attempted and even attempt some of yours if you’d like! I’ll share photos of my purchases (the good, the bad and the disastrous) and be frank with where I found the pieces and for how much. I encourage open communication lines with you, my darling readers (I am a lawyer after all) and will be happy to answer any of your design questions. Feel free to tag and follow me on Instagram at @emmaintoronto to stay up-to-date on all things interior.  

For my first column, I want to show you my most recent (and proudest) design moment: my red door. Ever since moving to Canada from Australia and seeing those beautiful old homes tucked away in the tree-lined streets of Toronto, I have wanted a red door on my house. The look of red paint against red brick seems, to me, classically Canadian. Last month, I headed off to my local paint shop to get started. When I arrived, I declared to the man behind the counter: “I want to paint my front door red! Please sir, what do I need?” He looked at me blankly and said: “You need to hire a professional.”

He obviously had no idea who he was talking to.

I ignored his comment and went on to an incredibly successful three days of door painting (and when I say “I,” I mean with generous help from Dad, staying with us on vacation from back home).

The result? Elizabeth Arden, eat your heart out: 

Red Paint Front Door

The Before Shot

Before image of front door

The After Shot

Post red paint front door

My Tips for Painting your Front Door

Do

  1. Do be adventurous with colour. Some people change their door colour every season: orange for fall, red for winter, blue for spring and yellow for summer. If you are less inclined to switch it up that often, pick a colour that speaks to the spirit of the house. My go-to colours include: red (cherry, blood, deep), black (charcoal is super chic) and blue (indigo, sky and navy are my top choices).
  2. Do remember it’s just paint. If you hate the colour, you can paint over it!
  3. Do try to begin the project on days where the forecast is clear and dry (preferably). This project will take you anywhere from 2-4 days depending on how many coats you do.
  4. Do prime your door properly! Preparation is the key to success with painting. I can’t say it enough, prepare, prime, prepare. Speak to your local paint supplier for the right colour primer to use. 
  5. Do be patient — painting takes time. Wait until each layer of paint has dried completely before applying the next. I did two coats of primer and three coats of paint. My door took three days in total from start to finish due to drying time.

Don’t

  1. Don’t remove all your hardware if you don’t have to! They don’t make locks like they did 85 years ago and you may not be able to get it back on. Instead, spend the time “frog-taping” all of your glass/handles/hardware. Trust me.
  2. Don’t work without a protective mat on the ground. You will spill paint on your hardwood floor and you will cry if it’s not protected.
  3. Don’t paint the back of the door. The impact is meant to be street view, not from your adjoining living room.
  4. Don’t start the project at night time or if you are going out. You can’t close the front door — it’s going to be wet with paint!
  5. Don’t listen to the paint man who tells you can’t paint the door yourself – you totally can.

Watch this video for more great tips: 

 Farrow & Ball – The Fable of the Front Door

News: Lessons from Down Under

In Australia, most law students don’t article. Instead, they complete practical legal training (PLT), an Law Practice Program-style program that, like the one being introduced in Ontario, combines coursework and co-op placements.

While each Australian state has a different PLT program, the one recently introduced in Victoria (where Melbourne is located) sheds light on why the LPP might be good for Ontario — and could even replace the articling system.

After discovering that some students spent their entire articling year doing menial administrative tasks, in 2008 the Law Institute of Victoria decided the licensing process needed more supervision.

Along with the PLT option, they also replaced articling with supervised workplace training (SWT) — a 12-month program that puts more rigorous requirements on firms than articling. For example, every firm that participates in SWT rather than PLT must train students in civil, commercial and property law — the mandatory practice areas covered in PLT coursework — regardless of the firm’s specialty. As a result, most firms that had articling students six years ago did not make the switch to SWT. Today, PLT work placements are the norm.

Ultimately, Victoria changed its licensing system — not to deal with an articling shortage, but because it decided unregulated articling isn’t the best way to train lawyers.


For everything you need to know about Ontario’s Law Practice Program, read our licensing scorecard.