Paying It Forward

When I was a new, fresh lawyer, I often lamented the lack of a network of legal professionals who could mentor and support me in my career development. I came from a rural, agricultural background and didn’t know a single lawyer before I went to law school. As I soon learned, that put me at something of a disadvantage in both job seeking and finding the right career path for me.

In the result, I learned early the value of forging and nurturing relationships within the legal profession and began to work hard at developing my own networks.

These days, I am well past describing myself as a new lawyer, but still find myself seeking guidance from more senior counsel. More often, though I am now in the position of providing such advice and mentorship to law students and young lawyers. And it gives me great pleasure to be able to do so – whether providing guidance, suggesting alternative career paths or helping to match job seekers with current opportunities. The networks I’ve cultivated enable me to effectively assist and support others in their professional journeys.

I’ve been helped along the way by a number of lawyers – some of whom I’ve written about here and here. It’s my intention that by providing career support to others on similar paths, I’m paying it forward. I can’t think of any better way to do so.

The next few months are transitional for many students and new lawyers. As you look ahead, I encourage you to watch for opportunities to pay it forward on behalf of those who supported your career, whether to law students looking for summer positions, articling students seeking placements or new calls looking for a first job. You won’t likely regret taking some time and making the effort to support those just entering our profession.


  1. I fully agree with Karen that lawyers of middle and senior call have an obligation to newly-called and junior lawyers. Law school might be very good at teaching people about the law but it’s not terribly good at teaching people how to be a lawyer, and I think that this problem is especially acute for new lawyers practicing family law.

    I would add mentoring to Karen’s suggestions. I participated in UBC Law’s mentoring program for many years and found the burden to be quite tolerable; I presently participate in CBA Alberta’s mentoring program and am having the same experience. I have enjoyed meeting all of the law students I have mentored over the years, and have generally enjoyed giving them the inside scoop on the miseries and pleasures of practice.