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Celebrating Success: Insights from Past Attendees of Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day

May 8, 2024

Elisa Romano

As the 10th anniversary of Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day (OITLD) approaches, it’s a time not only to commemorate this milestone but also to reflect on the profound impact this event has had on the legal journeys of numerous professionals. To offer a glimpse into the transformative power of OITLD, we’ve gathered insights from past attendees who generously shared their experiences and wisdom.

Dmitry Shniger, Internationally Trained Lawyer and current student in Osgoode's LLM in Canadian Common Law, llm in Canada

Dmitry Shniger, LLM, PhD
Current student, LLM in Canadian Common Law
2023 OITLD attendee

“OITLD was the first event I attended the day after arriving in Toronto. I was stressed with all the moves that were happening in my life and though I was not disoriented – I studied the NCA and LSO process before – I was very anxious because at times, I did not believe that becoming a lawyer in Canada was feasible for someone coming from a civil law jurisdiction.

OITLD transformed my approach. I gained confidence that my plan was feasible. I heard the successful stories of other internationally trained lawyers and I listened to people directly involved in the education, accreditation and licensing process who were all very supportive, precise and helpful. The panel from OsgoodePD gave me the right mindset which allowed me to plan the right course of future actions. It was a mindset of a confident mature responsible person who is not “worse” than Canadian law graduates. Most importantly, attending the OITLD gave me the sense of community: I realized that I was not alone in my challenges.

To sum it up, OITLD was a great boost for my start in Canada. Before I arrived in Toronto, many people with whom I tried to network discouraged me from participating in the 2023 articling recruit season for 2024/2025 because in May 2023, I did not even start studying at Osgoode. After OITLD, I realized that I had to at least try and turns out I was successful – in August 2023, I secured an articling position for 2024/2025.”

Yanique Russell, OsgoodePD application agent, Internationally Trained Lawyer and alumna of Osgoode's Professional LLM in International Business Law

Yanique Russell, LLB, LLM
Managing Lawyer, Yanique Russell Law
LLM in International Business Law
2020 OITLD attendee

“In reflecting on my attendance at OITLD, I believe the most valuable aspects were undoubtedly the opportunity to hear from other licensed and established ITLs, as well as the robust networking opportunities. The day provided a unique platform for me to connect with seasoned professionals and colleagues who not only made insightful and empowering presentations, but also displayed a genuine interest in aiding the professional growth of attendees.

OITLD afforded me specific insights into the nuances of the legal system in Canada, and more specifically, Ontario, which helped me appreciate the opportunities that were available for me to use my legal license to attain my career goals. The presenters were varied and shared insights on their respective journeys, which made the event suitable for everyone. The resources provided helped me to fine-tune my approach towards the NCA Assessment Process and offered a clearer understanding of the articling requirements of the Law Society of Ontario. It was these events that helped me to plan my re-licensing journey and more specifically,  the timely completion of my exams and launch of my practice.

Since attending OITLD, my legal career in Canada has been a testament to the value of a supportive community merged with the importance of having a road map. I have been able to practise law in a meaningful and fulfilling way that helps me to now add value to the lives of others, especially as an immigration lawyer who helps professionals to navigate through the complexities of the Canadian job market with confidence.

At Yanique Russell Law, we provide immigration, estate, business, and family legal services with a mission to help persons create, preserve and pass on wealth. Each day presents new challenges and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of my clients, and I am grateful for the foundation that OITLD helped to lay as it was here that I first learned that it was possible to serve my community in a unique way.

My biggest takeaway from the event was the reassurance that I am part of a community that is eager to provide support and guidance to others. This sense of solidarity has been a constant source of motivation and zeal for me to continue to pay it forward.

To any internationally trained lawyer considering attending this year’s OITLD, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is more than an event- it’s a launchpad for your career in the Canadian legal landscape, and a forum that provides a wealth of knowledge and connections.”

Francisco-Rojas, Internationally Trained Lawyer and alumnus of OsgoodePD's Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law.

Francisco Rojas, LLB, LLM
Counsel, RBC
LLM in Canadian Common Law
2020 OITLD attendee

“Attending Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day (OITLD) was a pivotal step in my journey as an internationally trained lawyer (ITL) aspiring to become licensed in Canada. The event wasn’t just another conference; it was a dynamic platform brimming with opportunities to connect, learn, and strategize. Throughout the day, I found myself immersed in engaging discussions, surrounded by fellow ITLs eager to share their experiences and insights.

The networking opportunities alone were worth the attendance. From casual conversations during breaks to structured networking sessions, I had the chance to forge meaningful connections with professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Moreover, the informative sessions offered a wealth of knowledge on navigating the complexities of the licensing process. Hearing firsthand experiences from ITLs who had successfully overcome similar challenges was incredibly empowering. Their stories not only provided practical tips and tricks but also instilled a sense of confidence in my own abilities.

One of the most valuable aspects of OITLD was the emphasis on creating an effective plan for completing the licensing process efficiently. Learning from those who had already walked the path helped me tailor my approach and avoid common pitfalls. Additionally, receiving advice for securing job opportunities was invaluable as I prepared to navigate the Canadian legal market.

Beyond the practical guidance, OITLD provided something equally important: a sense of camaraderie. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in my journey, that there were others facing similar hurdles and triumphs, was incredibly reassuring. It reinforced the idea that while the path to licensing might be challenging, it was also immensely rewarding.

After attending OITLD, I approached the licensing process and the Canadian legal market with newfound confidence. Currently, I am a counsel at Royal Bank of Canada, supporting business products and services.

Ayaka Yoshinari, Internationally Trained Lawyer, alumna LLM in Canadian Common Law

Ayaka Yoshinari, JD, LLM
Associate Lawyer, Anwari Law
LLM in Canadian Common Law
2018 OITLD attendee

“During Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day, I was able to connect with fellow international lawyers and law degree holders who also had come to Canada in the past few years and were thinking of pursuing legal careers in Canada. I still continue to have great friendships with those who I met, which I did not expect when I had signed up to the event!

After attending OITLD, I was very much encouraged to start the journey to pursue my legal career in Canada, which did not look realistic to me before I attended. In the Fall of 2018, I applied to Osgoode’s LLM in Canadian Common Law which would help me to satisfy the NCA requirements. I also took the foundation program from January 2019, which turned out very helpful for me because I was not confident with my English skills and my legal background knowledge as I come from a Civil Law country.

After I completed my articling and passed the bar exams, I was called to the bar in Ontario in June 2021. I have been practicing immigration law and then expanded my area to refugee law practice in 2022. Working in the international legal field including refugee law was my dream when I originally started my first law degree back home, which I did not expect that I could do after years.

I am now working as an associate lawyer in a private law firm specialized in immigration and refugee law. I am learning a lot everyday about what is going on in the world practicing refugee law. This is a very rewarding job which I really enjoy.”

The experiences from Yanique, Francisco and Dmitry underscore the profound impact of OITLD in empowering internationally trained lawyers to navigate the complexities of the Canadian legal landscape with confidence and resilience. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of this landmark event, let us honor the achievements of past attendees and look forward to the continued success and growth of the legal community.

Join us at OITLD 2024 to discover the many supports and resources available to ITLs ensuring you don’t feel alone in your legal journey in Canada.