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Canadian Common Law LLM kept Mariana Ribeiro on career fast-track

April 22, 2024

Elisa Romano

When Mariana Ribeiro arrived in Canada from Brazil in July 2021, she felt like she had no time to waste. Having twice postponed her start date in OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law program – including for the birth of her second child – there was no chance of Ribeiro accepting a third delay, even if that meant enduring a 14-day quarantine with her young family that would take her right up to the first week of classes.  

“It was a hard way to arrive, but we had to do it,” she says.

A year later, as her Osgoode graduation approached, Ribeiro kept herself on the fast-track to the Ontario bar when she landed an interview for an articling position at renowned Toronto civil litigation boutique Groia and Company, using the opportunity to make the firm a proposition.  

“The interview was supposed to be for the following year – the 2023-2024 cycle – but I told them that I was available to start immediately because I was an international student,” Ribero explains. “It worked: two days later they called me and said the position was mine.”

But all the dynamism has paid off: while learning the ropes at her new firm, Ribeiro also managed to pass both the law society’s barrister and solicitor licensing examinations, allowing her to complete her re-qualification within two years of her arrival in Canada.  

“I finished my articling period on June 26, and I was called to the bar the next day, on June 27,” Ribeiro says. “It was intense, but it was great to be finished. I needed to become a lawyer.”

And there are no signs of her slowing down any time soon. After she was hired back as an associate, Ribeiro leapt into her corporate, commercial and securities litigation practice, gaining trial experience and assisting clients with a broad range of issues, including shareholder disputes and class actions. She has since relocated to Waterloo, to continue her practice at Sorbara Law. 

According to Ribeiro, her earlier experience in Brazil, where she had established herself in practice over 16 years as a civil litigator at several Sao Paulo law firms, helped her hit the ground running after re-qualifying in Ontario.

“Of course the procedure is a little different and you are working with different legislation and caselaw, but many of the principles are the same,” she says. “The aim is to find a solution that works for the client.”

Although she grew up without any legal connections in the family, Ribeiro says she still felt a strong affinity with the profession from an early age.

“I loved writing and I loved argument, so I thought it would be a good career,” she says.

Following her 2005 call to the bar in Brazil, Ribeiro served local and international clients, working her way up to become the manager of her firm’s litigation department. However, she and her husband saw their long-term future elsewhere, hoping to find a safer and more secure environment where they could raise their family.

They had both had their sights fixed on Canada since a pre-children study trip to Vancouver.

“I did a course in dispute resolution, but the main focus was to experience living in a different country and be immersed in English,” Ribeiro says. “We thought maybe one day we could come back to Canada and ten years later, here we are.”

Although Ribeiro received offers to study at more than one university, Osgoode’s Canadian Common Law LLM stood out – and not just because of the flexibility of its schedule or the way its core courses are specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation.

“I also talked to some Brazilians who were here at the time, and they had great things to say about the staff and professors at Osgoode,” says Ribeiro, who can now confirm their praise based on her own experience.

“There is so much support available for students – not just for classes, assignments and examinations, but also for articling, the legal market and the challenges of adapting to a new country. My advice to new students is to be open-minded and take advantage of the entire support structure that the program offers” she adds.

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