Tales From a Canadian Attorney: My Crooked Path to – and Through – Law School

Carli Van Maurik

Everyone has a story about how they ended up going to law school, and they’re often similar, but different. Since we frequently get emails from Canadian readers (hello!), we’re thrilled to have a Canadian attorney, Carli van Maurik, here to share her story as part of a 5-part series.

Welcome, Carli!

Why I Went to Law School

I went to law school to save the world. It was actually my mom’s idea for me to go to law school. I couldn’t think of anything else to do so I decided to go.

It was 2003 when I started my first year. I had just turned 20. I figured I would be a prosecutor because they look so cool on TV. My best friend was going to be an RCMP police officer.

Together we would be the crime fighting team.

My Plan Didn’t Exactly Work Out

Flash forward…I somehow ended up as a corporate/commercial solicitor (not saving the world), she works on an oil rig support vessel (polluting the world).

Anyway, somewhere in first year law school I realized I was in for a ride. I realized I hated Criminal Law (probably because my prof made fun of me in front of a group of friends for getting a D- on a test by telling me that my grade would have been the same if the course had been taught in French).

So I Played the Big Firm Game

For a little bit I got swept up in the “cattle call” hosted by Big Firm. I went to several dinners, career fairs and interviews. As I was playing the game and saying all the ‘right’ things I felt the need to resist the urge to fling myself off the nearest balcony.

Strangely, I just could not get excited about working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, selling a billable hour, working in a mill where the partners and associates treated you like crap and in some instances even sexually harass you.

The feeling was mutual as it turns out. Although I interviewed diligently, I never received an offer from Big Firm. I probably should have realized it wasn’t going well when, during one interview in Calgary, Alberta, the person actually talked to me about my goldfish for the entire half hour slot (I spent $800 on a flight for that interview).

My Plan B Idea

I decided I would have to find a job at a small to medium sized firm, which seemed less evil to me for some reason.

Law school was of no help with this search. Although they don’t say it outright, unless you want a job at Big Firm you’re on your own. Apparently helping those students that cannot find a job with Big Firm is not included in the massive tuition fees you pay.

After graduating from law school, I articled with a small firm in Nova Scotia. When my friend was offered an interest-free loan instead of a salary at a small firm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I high-tailed it out of Nova Scotia and I moved to Victoria, British Columbia.

I ended up at a prestigious boutique law firm for a number of years and have recently flown the coop to practice law my way.

— – —

Thanks, Carli! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story…

More about Carli:

Carli van Maurik is a senior business solutions lawyer and joined Whiteboard Law in 2014. Carli was formerly with a highly regarded business law firm located in Victoria, B.C., where she led their Corporate and Commercial Department.

An entrepreneur herself, she recently co-founded an innovative online start-up company.

Ms. Van Maurik is actively involved in the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC) and is a booster with VIATeC’s “Accelerate Tectoria” accelerator program where she mentors start-up businesses and appears as a frequent guest speaker.

Carli has extensive experience in a wide range of business law matters including assisting her clients with (technology) start-up formation, debt and equity financing, sophisticated corporate/capital structuring, corporate governance, maintenance and compliance, as well as shareholders agreements. In addition, she regularly assists clients with complex corporatere-organizations and helps by avoiding and solving stakeholder disputes. Other areas of practice include negotiating and preparing share/asset purchase, franchise and licensing agreements. She has extensive experience in structuring corporate entities, societies and not-for-profits, cost-sharing arrangements, joint ventures and partnerships.

Carli has volunteered her time with the Access ProBono Society of British Columbia providing legal advice to low income individuals.  She was sought out to make a guest appearance on a Victoria television show profiling the local business community.  Carli is also an Advisor with ICE which is a resource for helping budding entrepreneurs research and potentially launch a new venture. It is also a resource for very early ventures that have yet to raise outsidemoney (beyond early “friends and family”) and which are now reaching a stage where they need to polish a business plan and become “Investor-Ready”. ICE is an initiative of the Gustavson School of Business on behalf of the University of Victoria.

Carli is a graduate of St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia and attended law school atDalhouseUniversity where she received the Award of Academic Excellence and was on the Dean’s List for 2002 – 2003.  Carli was called to both the British Columbia Bar and the Nova Scotia Bar in 2007.

Read On:

Read more in this series of posts from Carli:

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