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Osgoode’s Securities Law LLM kept Charmaine Chung on the legal fast track

April 30, 2024


Charmaine Chung has spent most of her career on the legal fast track.

After enrolling in a Bachelor of Business Administration course at York University’s Schulich School of Business, Chung left early to take up a place at Osgoode Hall Law School.

“I knew very early on that I wanted to become a lawyer, so it was a very direct path for me,” she says.

Building on her existing educational experience, Chung next set her sights on the corporate law giants of Bay Street and ultimately landed an articling position at Gowling Strathy & Henderson LLP (now Gowling WLG), one of the country’s largest firms.  

“That was another very natural progression because I was so interested in business law,” Chung says.

It was during a rotation in the firm’s securities law group that she discovered her passion for the practice area.

“I really enjoyed the intellectual aspect of it, particularly working through the complex framework of rules and regulations that govern the securities industry.  I also enjoyed the detail-oriented nature of securities compliance work,” Chung says. “And then there was the excitement of the merger and acquisition deals or going-public transactions that I was involved with during my early days as an associate – that really fueled my passion for the practice.”

Just two years into her stint at Gowlings, Chung began looking for a way to stay ahead of the game. And she found it in Osgoode’s part-time Professional LLM in Securities Law after a friend introduced her to the program and asked if she was interested in joining.

“I really enjoyed the practice of securities law, but I also wanted to gain a lot more knowledge and a lot more in-depth experience very quickly, to help accelerate my learning,” Chung says.

The flexibility of Osgoode’s program was another big attraction for Chung. Without the option of evening classes that could fit around her job, she says she could not even have considered an LLM.

“I was very fortunate that the firm was supportive of my enrolment on a part-time basis. In fact, they even sponsored me, so I maintained a full practice throughout those two years,” she adds.   

But all the hard work paid off, according to Chung, since the Osgoode program lived up to her expectations, both in terms of the substance of course content and the quality of instruction.

In addition, Chung was impressed by the diversity of professional backgrounds represented in her cohort on the Securities Law LLM, which continues to attract lawyers from across the country in private practice and in government, as well as in-house counsel and other working professionals including those without formal legal training.

“It was a very diverse group of students. I was one of the more junior lawyers, but there were some who had been practising for more than 20 years,” she says. “The programme provided me with access to some leading industry experts that I wouldn’t have come across normally at that stage of my career. As a second- or third-year associate, you very rarely get to work with or make connections with lawyers of that calibre.”

Even before her 2003 graduation, Chung says her participation in the Securities Law LLM had an immediate impact on her practice.

“I was able to take a lot of that learning and those neatly-packaged resources back with me to the firm and apply them to my day-to-day work instantly,” she says. “That in turn helped me progress very quickly within the firm, to work on more challenging matters and more involved transactions.”

Several years later, Chung returned to her business roots, accepting a role as senior legal counsel at accounting and consulting firm, Ernst & Young LLP. Currently, Chung holds the title of Executive Director and Associate General Counsel in EY’s General Counsel’s Office, as well as Chief Compliance Officer of EY’s affiliated law firm, EY Law LLP. Chung has gained experience in corporate, commercial and partnership law, professional services contracts, corporate governance, procurement, sanctions, anti-money laundering, lobbying, sponsorships, policy development and risk management over almost two decades at the company. 

“While I enjoyed the practice of securities law immensely, it was the chance to really become involved deeply in business matters on a day-to-day basis that brought me in-house,” Chung says. “Although I haven’t been practising securities law for most of these years, the training that I received at Osgoode has still remained invaluable.”

For those just starting out on their securities law journeys, Chung would not hesitate to recommend they follow in her footsteps. “I say go for it,” she says. “I really enjoyed my time doing the Securities Law LLM at Osgoode. It’s a great program. It accelerated my learning, I was able to meet some great people and the faculty was top notch.”

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