School to Work: Episode 2 Law Grad

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INTERVIEW WITH MELISSA DIMITRIADIS,
LAW GRADUATE

Ever wonder what it really takes to become a lawyer?

Well let’s face it – it’s not as easy as Mike Ross running into Harvey Spector in a fluke encounter on the first episode of Suits (Not sure what I’m talking about? Watch here).

As a recent law graduate, Melissa Dimitriadis can tell you becoming a lawyer is quite an endeavor – she will have invested nearly 10 years since graduating high school in order to achieve her goal of starting a career in law. This is no small feat by any standards, but Melissa reveals that it has been well worth the time and energy in order to find her passion for employment law, and a career she loves.

Melissa Dimitriadis

 

Melissa completed an integrated Bachelor of Civil Law/Bachelor of Laws (B.C.L./LL.B.) degree in December 2015 after a challenging – but rewarding – three-and-a-half year program at McGill University.  She is now in the process of studying for the bar exam and will complete an articling stage before being called to the bar.  After all this, she will finally be able to start her career as a lawyer!

Listen to the full podcast below to learn more about Melissa’s personal journey to a career in law, her advice to youth considering law school, and what her future goals are once she is called to the bar:

Don’t have time to listen to the full podcast? Here are a few {edited} excerpts from my interview with Melissa about her experience as a recent law graduate:

L: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience as a law student?

M: […] My first year was a little bit of a culture shock, for sure.  The classes were definitely difficult and it was a different method of studying from [my first undergrad in] psychology so it took some time to get used to but once you get into your second year, you’re a lot more comfortable, you’re no longer the new students, so it definitely got easier and as time went on, by the third – third-and-a-half year, it was definitely much better.

“My first year was a little bit of a culture shock.”

L: In terms of your experience thus far, have you had a moment where you thought, “this is just not going to work out,” and what did you do to overcome that anxiety or that hesitation about the next step in your process?  

M: I think as a law student, you kind of have a lot of those moments where you’re like, “I can’t do this!” […] I definitely had some doubts in my first year as to whether this really was for me […] I really had a whole moment of planning it out, thinking, “Okay, what do I need to do? How do I need to do it? Can I do it?”  And I said, “Yes, I could do it,” so I went forward with it and I don’t think I had a moment since then that has been that intense, that really made me question, “Is law the right thing for me? Should I get out now before I spend too much time? Change routes all together?” Thankfully I haven’t had another moment like that […] You still get anxiety every once in a while going, “Okay, did I make the right decision?” You take a breath, and then you kind of think it through, and say, “Yes, it’s just a hard patch.” You have to get through the hard patch, and not everything comes easy so you have to just work a little bit harder.

“You have to get through the hard patch, and not everything comes easy so you have to just work a little bit harder.”

Melissa’s career advice to our viewers:

  • Think through your choices: “Make sure you think about what you want, and then go after it.”
  • Don’t be afraid to change your mind: “”Don’t stay if you don’t enjoy it.”
  • Find what you love: “Find that and go after it, and don’t give up.”

“You won’t work a day in your life if you love what you do.”

 

linds-lawyer (2)L: Looking back, is there a time where you had an expectation either prior to law school or at the start of law school, that now has turned out to be completely false?

M: I was actually dead-set on going into criminal law […] I may have watched a little bit of Law & Order but I kind of knew that wasn’t the reality […] and then I took a criminal law class and, interesting as it was, I was like, “This wasn’t for me.” […] I just didn’t have the skill set for it and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to develop it, but I didn’t have that same passion that I had from before. And then a couple of semesters later, I took employment law and I was like, “I love this. This topic is just amazing.” I enjoyed it. I read the laws – I just understood it so much better.

“I took employment law and I was like, ‘I love this. This topic is just amazing.’ I enjoyed it. I read the laws – I just understood it so much better.”

Interested in a program or career in Law?

Visit the Government of Canada Job Bank for more information on what recent graduates across Canada are doing with their degrees.

Here are some quick stats from their website (2016):

    • 87.26%% of recent Law graduates are employed
    • Earning range is between $39,651 – $69,171 with $53,711 being the median
    • 31.67% of recent graduates are in jobs unrelated to Law
    • 64.31% would choose this field again

Food for thought:

Many careers require extensive schooling and practical training in order to meet the requirements of the profession or to be seen as a competitive candidate for available employment opportunities.  As Melissa shared with us, her journey to becoming a lawyer will have taken a decade of her time since high school to achieve.  This may seem daunting and like a “loss of time” but we, as youth, need to begin seeing this as an investment in our future.  It is so important that students begin thinking about their future career options as early on as possible, researching what is required in order to successfully reach their goals, and coming up with a plan to get there.  Of course, expectations and goals may change along the way – but it is never too early to start thinking about the future and exploring what path might ultimately lead you to your dream job.

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A very big thank you to Melissa for meeting with us and sharing her story with us!

Interested in getting involved in this project?

We’d love to hear from other students or graduates who have something to say about their education and career experiences.

Write to lindsay@roadtoemployment.ca to get in touch.

Share on social! @Road2Employment

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