Not everyone has the dream of becoming a partner of a large law firm. A career in law in a small town can suit many people. What do lawyers do who are far from major centres?
“In university, we had training on law in outlying areas and were told that it was not snowmobile law!,” recalls Mtre Andréanne Lascelle-Lavallée, president of the Association des Jeunes Barreaux de Région (AJBR), an organization that represents the rights of lawyers with 10 years practise and less outside Montreal and Quebec City. For those who specialize in youth family law, there is no doubt that quality cases exist as much in outlying areas as in the metropolis or the capital. “We have very interesting cases where we are creating jurisprudence,” she says, citing as examples the Lac-Mégantic case, which was held in Sherbrooke, or that of SNC-Lavalin in the pyrrhotite case in Trois-Rivières.
Climbing the ranks faster
The size of law firms most often shrinks when leaving Quebec City and Montreal, a format that has benefits for the next generation who will be called upon to take up its place more quickly. “Interesting assignments can be had from a young practice, being brought to plead very quickly, since naturally there is no number one intern in a firm where there is only the senior lawyer who will plead,” points out the president of the AJBR.
These opportunities are multiplied by the lack of lawyers in many parts of Quebec. “It can be noted in outlying areas that there are often lawyers who want to retire and who seek to transfer their clientele to a new generation,” says Mtre Lascelle-Lavallée. How better to get your career started on the right foot, especially when considering that “salaries are equivalent to those in the large centres, but with a lower cost of living”.
The need for versatility
Although lawyers in outlying areas are not short of work, they must diversify their practise, unless they have chosen criminal law. “I think this is good, because the older you get the more you can afford to choose your cases.”
Greater proximity between colleagues
“The Bars have fewer members, so we know each other more,” adds Mtre Lascelle-Lavallée. “There is a collegiality that settles in more easily, a natural support made between members, towards the young members.” Round tables can thus bring together the judiciary as well as all lawyers working in one branch of justice. “In Montreal, all the lawyers cannot be gathered in one room to tell them how to manage their youth cases,” explains the lawyer, “but in Trois-Rivières we are 10 lawyers… We are more easily able to give our point of view with regards to the administration of justice than in the large centres, where we are one among many…”