Foreign trained lawyer in land of opportunity | Alexandar Pavlov
Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 1:09 PM | By Alexandar Pavlov
For 20 years, I worked as a lawyer and a pubic notary in Bulgaria. My grandfather was a lawyer during one of the most challenging times of Bulgaria and my father followed a career in academia. I chose both.
I was frustrated by the corruption in Bulgaria and was ready for a big change. When our family decided to immigrate to Canada, I researched a career in law.
Before we moved, I researched extensively the legal job opportunities in Canada. Law is a regulated profession in Canada and the professional body sets rigorous requirements for foreign-trained legal professionals to practise here.
There are many other differences among the legal systems in countries that newcomers arrive from, and those differences can affect the success of job seekers and can limit their chances for restarting legal careers in Canada.
Upon our arrival in Canada with my wife, Judith, and our son, I applied for permanent resident status. Ten months later, I was approved so I started legally applying for jobs.
I volunteered with people from different walks of life — children in my son’s school, homeless men, refugees, young offenders at the John Howard Society and Indigenous people. From every place I gained new and unique experience.
Of course, pursuing my legal career remained a priority and I went back to school for almost two years, and while working part time in a Korean restaurant, I obtained my certification as a law clerk.
All that time I researched trends in the legal industry and feel it is going through very exciting and inspirational changes.
I became involved in the high-tech business incubator Communitech, which I found very energizing. The technology we discussed is bringing many new opportunities and challenges to the legal business. Many proceedings and standard documents are created online, and digital resources make processes much more accessible and convenient for customers.
Technology is also borderless. So newcomers with a legal background from other countries have more access to legal services, which is especially good for serving immigrant communities.
After submitting a number of online applications, I discovered the charm of networking. I did a lot of research and learned new techniques for creating professional relationships through cold calls and regular attendance at various social events in the community of Kitchener-Waterloo.
My outreach helped me establish contacts with many legal professionals — lawyers, paralegals, law clerks and others. I was impressed how positively many people responded, probably because of their natural sympathy to one newcomer.
I believe in the power of networking — in its potential to be a community-building force that unites and inspires the residents, builds bridges and revives hopes in a glorious future.
Canada is a modern developed country with rule of the law, and the legal industry is the foundation of the society. Canada is also a country based on the principles of multiculturalism and the integration of people from different backgrounds.
The Ontario community of Kitchener-Waterloo has strong traditions of welcoming newcomers and giving immigrants a chance to achieve their goals.
I was well prepared for my transition. I had realistic expectations — which is why I chose the career path of the law clerk. I am enjoying the work.
My new network of personal contacts has also made me aware of the challenges in the legal community in my town. I am still enthusiastically promoting my portfolio, especially the part created during my professional career in Bulgaria, in a completely different work and social environment.
I highly respect the rule of law and the inclusive character of the Canadian legal community, combined with rigorous educational and professional standards.
Of course there are many challenges, and not everyone supports the idea for openness of the legal market for immigrants but the advancement of technology, the growing immigrant community and also the needs of society are very strong arguments that make me optimistic for the future of the law as a tool in service of society and as an instrument for the well being of the country.
The vibrant community of Kitchener-Waterloo, the universities and the Career Centre at Conestoga College (which provided me with so much support), Communitech, the proximity to Toronto and the American border and the general welcoming background are conducive for highly motivated immigrants to reach their goals and to settle a new life for them and their families.
Here is a chance for everybody.
Alexandar Pavlov graduated from St. Kliment Ohridsky at Sofia University, Bulgaria, in 1994 with master of law degree. He moved to Canada in 2015. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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