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Alumna pursues dream to practice law in Canada

Q&A with Annethe Rodriguez, who earned a JD in Mexico – followed by years of study and 10 exams to earn accreditation in Canada
November 17, 2014

Annethe Rodriguez had to write 10 exams to become an accredited lawyer in Canada. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Annethe Rodriguez, LLM’13, has been studying for a long time. After marrying her husband (a Calgarian) in 2009, she moved from Mexico and had to work as a legal assistant and then as a paralegal, until she secured a great job with TransCanada. Annethe knew she wanted to practice law in Canada, and found out that in order to get her JD (which she earned in Mexico, a Civil Law jurisdiction) accredited, she would need to earn a Canadian degree. In 2011, Annethe began her LLM at the University of Calgary, knowing that the hard work to be able to practice law in Canada would be worth it.

Q: What was the focus of your studies as an LLM student?

A: My LLM was an specialization in NREEL, Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law, and the focus that I gave my studies was energy law, including everything from oil and gas law, energy/regulatory law, renewable energy sources law, mining law, and international petroleum transactions. I studied those areas from both the Canadian perspective, and in comparison with other legal jurisdictions, particularly Latin American countries with energy sectors of global relevance, such as Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. 

Q: Tell us about your role with TransCanada.

A: I have been working at TransCanada since mid-2012 in the Projects Mexico Development group. During my time in this department, I have had the opportunity to coordinate the development of successful multimillion dollar bid proposals, and Comisión Reguladora de Energía (the Mexican equivalent of the National Energy Board) natural gas transportation permit applications. I have also been involved in the project implementation process that takes place after a contract is awarded, particularly on land, permits and community relations’ matters. As a native Mexican and adopted Canadian (Rodriguez is a permanent resident), having the opportunity to help bridge the gap between departments in Canada and Mexico has been an invaluable experience.

Q: You just wrote the exam to be able to seek an articling position in Canada. Tell us about that experience.

A: Once I finished my LLM, I sent both my JD (which I earned in Mexico) and my LLM to the National Committee on Accreditations (NCA). They assessed my credentials and in their Internationally Trained Lawyers Assessment Result Report, assigned me ten exams: Canadian criminal law and procedure, Canadian constitutional law, Canadian administrative law, foundations of Canadian law, contracts, torts, property, evidence, corporate law, and professional responsibility. The NCA provides you with a syllabus that is followed by Canadian law schools which includes topics to study and suggested book titles. I then had to self-study and present myself at the Law Society of Alberta for ten three-hour hand-written examinations. It was definitely a very hard two-year master’s program, followed by very challenging eight months of exams, all while working full time, but receiving the results informing me that I passed all ten exams was so exciting, and ordering my Certificate of Qualification was a great feeling!  

It goes without saying that my accreditation process has been long (because it’s not over yet, articling and CPLED are still ahead), and that it was a stressful and challenging time, but I have to say that it has been just as enriching in so many ways. Working and studying full-time (LLM and NCA exams) may seem undoable, but with dedication, perseverance, support from the great people that surround me, and love for what I do, I was able to get through it. Looking back, it’s an experience and a time in my life that I wouldn’t change, I learned about Canadian law, work-life balance, endurance, relationships, and so much more.

Q: Why is it important for you to do your articles here?

A: I have big dreams; I wish to be a person of influence that can help make this world a better place. I believe that Canada is a great country in which people are valued for who they are, and where opportunities are available for everyone. However, you have to work for your dreams and you have to chase the opportunities; and the first step for me is to become a certified lawyer in Canada, for that I need to article and take the CPLED here.

I have been given the opportunity to move to this country and to know the Civil Law jurisdiction and the Common Law jurisdiction; this is a unique opportunity and I have decided to not take it for granted and be a licensed lawyer in Mexico and Canada.

To me it’s simple — if I’m living in Canada my career should be relevant in Canada, and I should be a citizen that brings added value to my community, my city, my province and country. Also, I believe that being a lawyer is not just a profession, it's part of who you are, it is the way you think, the way you see the world, being a lawyer but not being licensed to practice in the country that I have chosen to build and live my life in wasn't an option, that is why I embarked in this journey.

Q: Do you have any advice for current law students or international students looking to practice law in Canada?

I would advise other students to do their research, make a realistic plan and follow through with it: be disciplined, work hard, and never give up. It is also important to not be resentful for all the work that is involved in becoming an accredited lawyer in Canada; work on your accreditation plan with a glad heart, and be thankful for the opportunity to practice law in Canada in the future.