Rachel Leck is an Ontario personal injury lawyer. In this post, Rachel shares her passion for the legal profession and how she finds balance between raising a young family and growing her practice.
I decided to move back to Midland, where I grew up, to practice law after my first year of law school. Law students hear a lot about the practice of law on Bay Street as soon as school begins, even though we’re repeatedly told not to pay attention to it for a while. But it’s impossible to ignore.
Based on the chatter, I knew that I would probably not be happy on Bay Street, even though I’m extremely ambitious and dedicated to my job. I’m also extremely dedicated to my family (husband and two school-aged kids), and committed to being involved in my community. The practice of law is notoriously hard on family life, but I knew that I needed a job that would accommodate those commitments outside of work.
How I became a personal injury lawyer in Midland, Ontario
We sold our house in Toronto and moved to Midland, Ontario while I was in the middle of my second year of law school. It was definitely a leap of faith, because neither my husband nor I had lined up jobs. One day I opened an email from the Canadian Bar Association and read an announcement about Lisa Belcourt of Midland, Ontario being awarded the CBA Young Lawyer Pro Bono Award. I actually remember thinking, “Is that my Midland?” I emailed Lisa almost immediately and told her that I was interested in doing an internship for credit towards my law degree. Lisa emailed back within the hour, if I recall, and that is how I ended up at Ferguson Barristers LLP in the summer of 2008. I’ve never left, except to go back and finish my law degree at the University of Ottawa .
One of the great things about being in a small personal injury law firm is the lack of hierarchy. I’ve had the chance to work directly with each of the partners; my mentors are rarely out of arm’s reach. They also work hard to get me into court as much as possible, which is a great thing for a young lawyer.
As a woman lawyer with two kids to raise, it’s really important that I’m fairly autonomous and able to manage my schedule as I see fit. Practically speaking, this means that I was recently able leave the office in the middle of the day to watch my son place first in his fiddle solo at the local music festival. I’ve also had occasion to run out of the office without notice to pick up a sick kid at school or drop off a forgotten lunch. I don’t have to ask permission. The partners assume that I know how to handle myself and get my work done. This definitely adds to my job satisfaction.
I really love the practice of law. I work mostly with people who been injured or need the help of a lawyer to correct a wrong they’ve suffered. I never hope for a person to need my help, but I genuinely like helping my clients get help and resolution when they need it.
But what I really love is being able to do this job at a firm that recognizes that I have a life outside of legal practice that is important. No question that finding work-life balance is a challenge; deadlines are deadlines and sometimes family has to wait while the client’s (or the court’s) needs get met.
Whenever I meet students or new lawyers, I always encourage them to check out “non-urban” practice. There are probably hundreds of communities across Ontario that will be losing their local lawyers to retirement within the next 10 years. There are real opportunities for practice outside of the major centres, and some real benefits.
Ferguson Barristers pioneered the Ontario Referring Lawyer program to allow lawyers in small communities to offer personal injury law and civil litigation services to their clients. Interested in becoming a referring lawyer? Contact us