University of Calgary

Faculty of Law encourages careers outside the big city

UToday HomeAugust 28, 2013

By Ali Abel

Joe Eisenlohr, from Medicine Hat, and Melissa Kostiuk, from Lethbridge, are both incoming first-year law students. The University of Calgary Faculty of Law teamed up with the Medicine Hat and Brooks Bar Association, the City of Medicine Hat and other orgaJoe Eisenlohr, from Medicine Hat, and Melissa Kostiuk, from Lethbridge, are both incoming first-year law students. The University of Calgary Faculty of Law teamed up with the Medicine Hat and Brooks Bar Association, the City of Medicine Hat and other organizations to create job opportunities this summer.We’ve all heard it before — “there are too many lawyers in the world.” Stories in the news describe law school graduates unable to find jobs because of an oversaturated market. And while this may or may not be the whole story in metropolitan areas, there is a shortage of young lawyers in smaller centres across Alberta, much like what is happening in the medical profession.

“The Bar is greying in rural areas and small towns,” says Ian Holloway, dean of the Faculty of Law. “Young people are often not keen to practice in smaller towns because they believe that the opportunities aren’t as great as in the larger centres. But the truth is that there are plenty of opportunities for ambitious and entrepreneurial young lawyers outside the big cities. In some ways, the opportunities have never been greater.”

This summer, the Faculty of Law teamed up with the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Alberta, the Medicine Hat and Brooks Bar Association, and the City of Medicine Hat to create a series of legal summer job opportunities for University of Calgary law students in Medicine Hat. The partnership was celebrated with the Medicine Hat Legal Careers Barbecue on Aug. 22 as a sendoff for students from the area heading to law school. Attendees included Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, lawyers, judges, and several law students wrapping up their summer jobs.  

“Young lawyers in Medicine Hat and other regional or rural areas have an advantage over some who choose to begin their careers in the big city,” says Maryanne Forrayi, director of the Faculty of Law’s Career and Professional Development Office. “They are faced with challenging work, but they are given opportunities and excellent experiences in the early stages of their career, which allows them to grow their practice quickly.”

The law school will continue to partner with legal organizations and law firms in Alberta’s smaller centres, focusing on the advantages of practicing in non-urban areas.

According to Sarah Koch, a lawyer with Bolton Bishop Lawyers, “Medicine Hat has an unparalleled sense of community and the legal profession here offers a work-life balance that rivals any other centre. Furthermore, just because we practice in a smaller community doesn’t mean we lose out on the financial benefits of a larger city. Lawyers in Medicine Hat can make a great living.”

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