Feb. 19, 2019

Meet our Alumni: Amy Matychuk, JD'18

Amy is the first UCalgary Law alum to obtain a clerkship at Nunavut Court of Justice
Amy Matychuk
Amy will start her clerkship in Nunavut in September 2019

Recent graduate Amy Matychuk, JD’18 was certain she wanted to go to law school to work in a social justice or public interest field, but was unsure of how to do so. It wasn’t until she worked for Professor Nigel Bankes that she stumbled across a project that inspired her to look deeper into Indigenous legal issues.

“During the summer after my first year, I worked on a research project on the Canadian application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” says Matychuk. “That work helped me understand that this was the legal issue in Canada where public interest and social justice intersect.”

Though she wasn’t aware of it at the time, it was this realization that would lead Matychuk to apply, and be accepted for a clerkship at the Nunavut Court of Justice nearly two years later.

Matychuk learned about the Nunavut Court of Justice clerkship when she began applying for Alberta clerkships in her second year. By the time the Nunavut Court was accepting applications, she had already accepted a position with the Provincial Court of Alberta.

“I saw the Provincial Court as the front line of the legal system because it deals with the most marginalized segments of our population. I hoped that working at the Provincial Court would give me valuable experience working with people experiencing mental illness, poverty, and homelessness in the future,” she states.

Uncertain what she would do once she was called to the bar in 2019, she applied for the Nunavut clerkship in December 2018 and was accepted into the program in early February 2019. Her instincts were right, and her time at the Provincial Court (where the work is primarily criminal, followed closely by family and then civil law) has given her a wealth of experience dealing with the types of legal issues she expects to encounter in Nunavut. The 20-month clerkship in Nunavut will be slightly different from her current role but will still primarily deal with legal issues in areas most relevant to access to justice for Indigenous peoples in Canada - family law and criminal law. The majority of accused persons in the Nunavut criminal courts are Indigenous, and judges in Nunavut must frequently apply laws that were not written with Northern Indigenous peoples in mind. Given Matychuk’s interest in Indigenous legal issues, this clerkship is a perfect fit.

To those students looking to forge a different path with their law degrees, Matychuk recommends doing research, taking applicable courses and speaking with those currently in the positions you’re trying to obtain.

“I had the Nunavut clerkship in my mind for the rest of law school, so I took family law and reached out to the current clerks hoping that by the time my resume went across someone’s desk they knew who I was,” she explained.