From Uganda to BC
On March 6, 2017, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an acknowledgement letter and customized lapel pin from Michael Welsh, President of CBABC in recognition of my valued membership for the past five years.
As a foreign-trained lawyer, I first joined CBABC as a student member while I pursued the Federation of Canadian Law Societies’ Certificate of Qualification (“NCA”). The CBABC became an invaluable resource for my professional journey, one whose contribution I cannot over emphasize.
I completed my law degree in Uganda, a lush and beautiful country in East Africa almost the size of British Columbia. Like Canada, Uganda was a British colony (got independence in 1962) that inherited a British education and judicial system.
Many professional immigrants to Canada have riveting stories to tell about their unique experiences in the pursuit of professional integration. Mine is no different.
Preparing for the NCA examinations in 2011 was challenging because of the limited resources beyond what the NCA provided. The forums on the CBABC website thus became my lifeline. I was later accepted to enroll for an examination preparation course at the Osgoode Hall of Law at York University.
In January 2012, for four consecutive days, I sat for all my NCA challenge exams, and by God’s grace, successfully completed them on the first attempt. The next hurdle was to find articles before I could be admitted to the Law Society of British Columbia Bar Course (“PLTC”).
It took about 200 different applications (I kid you not) and 19 months of patient and consistent networking, plus diligent commitment as a Legal Advocate at Parent Support Services Society of BC to finally land a spot at a law firm.
David Paterson, of Humphry-Paterson and Co. as it was then known, accepted me as his articling student in December 2013, eventually leading to my call in March 2015. But that call to the Bar was almost ruined by a fire (two weeks to the final exams) that started at my neighbour’s house destroying my entire home (course-notes included) and leaving me and my family homeless for more than a year.
Becoming a lawyer might not have been possible without the various CBABC resources, plus the kind and insightful advice offered by some senior practitioners in the profession. I am eternally grateful to these people.
In 2016, I received an award from the BC Association of Social Workers for Child and Youth Advocacy. As I continue to search for my most fulfilling career path, I want to publically thank the CBABC for its continued support. I have an interest in child protection, family law, public policy and ADR.
I urge fellow members to be more accessible to colleagues who may be in need of their guidance and assistance. Sometimes, even just a word of acknowledgement and encouragement can provide the motivation to keep striving for better.
In my humble opinion, this kind of collegial support positively impacts the diverse communities all over Canada, especially as we celebrate 150 years since Confederation.
Dennis J.K. Nkojo, Barrister & Solicitor and CBABC member.