Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gals We Admire: Heather Campbell

Litigator Heather Campbell says "the intellectual challenge of law" is what she enjoys most about her profession. And, she's a self-proclaimed early bird, starting off her day preparing correspondence and other documents. Find out how this legal eagle advocates for positive changes, plus get some sage career-boosting counsel.

Name: Heather Campbell
Profession: Lawyer
Twitter handle: @ElderLawBC

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I’m an early bird. For the first few hours, I prepare correspondence, written submissions and other documents such as statements of accounts. Once it’s a more reasonable hour, I make phone calls and arrange appointments. I often spend some time in the court library doing research, and then return to my office for client meetings. In the late afternoon, I return the phone calls I missed during the day. Sometimes I meet with individuals in the early evening, after they have finished work; otherwise, I continue working on client files and my firm’s accounting records.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
From an early age, I wanted to be a lawyer. I had a particular interest in being a criminal defence lawyer, as that’s what I saw on TV. At school, I enjoyed making presentations, so I was attracted to the idea of being a litigator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s hard to pick just one thing—I am constantly impressed with the collegiality among the legal profession. However, if I had to pick just one thing, it would be the intellectual challenge of law. I enjoy taking a set of facts, researching the applicable law, and then applying the law to the facts to determine the strengths and weaknesses of my client’s case. It’s particularly satisfying when the relevant law appears to be underdeveloped or unconstitutional, which allows for more creative analysis and argument that can result in effective change.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
I find the biggest challenge of the legal professional is that the law is constantly changing. Whether it’s through a new statute or court decision, the law is always being reinterpreted and redefined. Of course, it’s important that the law isn’t static, to ensure it remains relevant and current with modern thinking.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
I am fortunate to be in a professional position where I can advocate for positive changes through law and policy. I don’t know if I had a particular “calling” for being a lawyer, but it is certainly a job that provides me with the opportunity to make a difference in people’s legal situations and hopefully beyond.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Be yourself. Pretending to fit a particular mould can be tiring and unsatisfying. There are many opportunities out there; find or make one that fits your personality, values and goals.

Anticipate criticism. Everyone may not support your career moves. You may become quickly discouraged. Listen to and consider others’ concerns, but keep your head high. Don’t spend too much time trying to justify your decisions to constant critics. Keep moving towards your goals.

Thank others. Be grateful for your supporters. Let them know you are thankful for their encouragement.


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