Being called to the Bar during a global pandemic has added to an already-interesting journey for me. In 2021, there was no official ceremony, no opportunity to wear the robes of a litigator and no one to shake hands with. There was, however, a cake adorned with tabs, delivered to my house by friends and a home-made ceremony that took place in the bar located in my family basement. I suppose I should consider myself lucky – I didn’t have to sweat or itch in wool, plus the cake was delicious.
To provide readers with some background, I grew up locally, attending Trafalgar Castle in Whitby and working for various local businesses in the GTA throughout my teenage and University of Guelph, where I completed my undergraduate studies with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied and Aging. For me, the lightbulb really went off, as my Mother likes to say, after graduating University and securing my first job at a long-term care facility located in Pickering, commonly known as Ochard Villa. I was first hired to assist the Activities Director with administrative tasks and duties, but eventually became part of their recreation team, responsible for resident daily activities. I loved this job. It was fun, collaborative and rewarding. TO put it simply, my employment at Orchard Villa confirmed my interest in working with the aging population, while also solidifying my natural talent for running Friday night BINGO.
Although I adored working with the residents of Orchard Villa, I made the decision to return to school to become a licensed paralegal with the LSO. Upon graduation, I secured a position at lcoal law firm, GLover & Associates, while continuing to work part-time at Orchard Villa and another LTC home located in Oshawa. While employed at Glover & Associates, I met and worked alongside the founding partners of Elm Law Professional Corporation, Amelia Yiu and Stephanie Ostrom. When I first learned that Amelia practiced estate litigation, I knew right wawy that’s what I wanted to do too. Notably, working as a paralegal for Darryl Glover was one of the best decisions I made in my career to date, as it allowed for netwoking, an expansing of my legal knowledge and most importantly, significant insight into an area of law that I was interested in practicing – elder law.
Having first confirmed Articles with a number of firms within Ontario, I applied to law schools in the United Kingdom, eventually accepting admission to the University of Stratchlyde located in Glasgow, Scotland. Unfortunately, I did not meet my soulmate, Gerard Butler, but my love for the Scottish accent and haggis, flourished. In addition, the University of Stratchclyde offered a graduate level dual degree program in both Scots and English Law, which meant that if desired, I could remain in the UK practicing law, after completing my studies.
When I returned to Canada, I was required to write five accreditation exams through the National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) and of course, article and pass the Barrister and Solicitor examinations. This process initially began for me in October 2018 and finalized on January 22, 2021 when I was officially called to the Ontario Bar. Despite losing my grandmother to Covid-19 having the Solicitor examination rescheduled two business days prior to the scheduled sitting and a number of other unfortunate circumstance, including my father working on the frontlines himself and deciding to give up coffee for an ill-advised week, I am extremely grateful to be where I am today.
In sum, my colleagues are extremely fortunate – I love my job and I love the people that I work with. Having grown up in a household with two parents who are equally, if not more passionate about their careers, I feel very lucky to have found a similar career path. If anyone is considering law school abroad, or has any questions in general about my legal journey and/or estate litigation, I welcome you to reach out to me directly.
Lauren Wianecki is a practicing Estate Litigation Lawyer with Elm Law in Whitby.