By Adegoke Arowosebe
It is no news that the employment outlook for lawyers is not as great as it used to be in the 90’s or early 2000’s. Despite this though, one thing is crystal clear - you can still find your dream law job in Canada if you are ready to be geographically flexible. If you are flexible with the location of your office, you should have no problem finding work in the legal field.
Lawyers and law students often neglect the Territories while searching for a legal position. In this piece, I highlight why I think Yellowknife and other parts of the Northwest Territories (NWT) should be a top pick for law students and lawyers seeking legal jobs in Canada.
There is no available stats on the exact amount of law jobs in the NWT, but several indices suggest that there might be something in there for legal professionals. According to a 2016 report, the residents are lamenting the shortage of lawyers in the NWT as people often wait for many months before they can have access to the duty counsel in the courts. Also, as noted in the report, the “lack of lawyers in the NWT generally, and family law and private lawyers specifically” is hampering access to justice in the Territory. Apparently, this suggests the demand for legal services in the NWT surpasses the supply.
Let’s put the revelations in the report aside, are there other factors that point to a positive outlook for law jobs in the NWT?
In any geographical location, there are two primary drivers for law career opportunities: 1) a growing population and; 2) a thriving economy. Other drivers include the presence of law courts and the availability/proximity of law school(s). Let’s take a look at how these drivers shape or could shape the availability of legal jobs in Yellowknife and other parts of the NWT.
In 2016, the NWT had an estimated population of 44,397. Its capital city, Yellowknife, is the most populous city in the Territory with about 20,637 people. But the ratio of lawyers to the residents of the Territory is disproportional. According to the Law Society’s membership directory, as of May 31, 2017, there are only 152 lawyers resident in the Territory that have an active
The key industries driving the economic activities of the NWT include mining,
The top employers in the NWT include the governments (federal, territorial, and municipal) and mining companies (Dominion Diamond Corporation, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., and De Beers). In fact, the NWT boasts as having the highest employment rate in Canada.
Generally, the court of law is associated with lawyers. In any cities or town, law offices are sited around court buildings. Although today, many lawyers ply their trade outside the courtrooms as in-house counsel, transactional counsel, or in other advisory roles, yet, there are many lawyers who represent litigants before the courts. The judicial arm of the Government of the NWT administers justice through the following levels of court:
In addition to the traditional courts, there are also a number of administrative tribunals in NWT where
#4. Law School
There is no law school in the NWT. Aurora College is the only post-secondary institution in the NWT and it does not offer any law related program such as legal assistant, legal administrative assistant, paralegal, or criminology and justice administration.
Other Attractions of NWT
The list of attractions in the NWT is inexhaustive but here are few:
Practicing Law in the NWT
To practice law in the NWT, you must be a member of the Law Society of the NWT. To find out about how to become a member, click here.
Law Firms in the NWT
National or regional law firms with offices in Yellowknife include Field Law, Lawson Lundell LLP, and McLennan Ross LLP. Other law firms include Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper, Ken Allison, Smith & Associates, Rehnlaw, Wallbridge Law Office, Marshall & Company, MacDonald & Associates, Keenan Bengts Law Office, Marshall and Company, Nightingale Law Office, McNiven Law Office, Boyd Thomas, Bengts Elaine Keenan, Phillips Law Office, Denroche & Associates, Dragon Toner Law Office and McIlmoyle Law.
Non-Traditional Law Jobs
Traditional law jobs and legal support roles go hand in hand. Practically, lawyers and law offices cannot function without the services of legal paraprofessionals (legal assistants, paralegals, legal secretaries etc.). Also, there will be
Things to Note
In weighing in on whether to apply for or accept, a law job in the NWT, here are two of the key factors to keep in mind:
#1 Inclement Weather Conditions
The NWT climate is unique, as it possesses a distinct four-season cycle including fall, winter,
Its Winters are long and harsh, with average highs of mid negative 20° C, average lows of negative 40 °C, and shorter daylights. Summers are short and cool with average highs of 15° C, average lows of 5° C, and longer daylights. For more on the weather conditions in the NWT, visit Weather Canada’s website.
#2 High Cost of Living
The average household income in the NWT is higher than the national average. In Yellowknife, for instance, notes the Canadian Encyclopedia, households spend 50 percent more than the average Canadian home.
How to get a Law Job in the NWT
To find a law job in the NWT, I recommend you use these three options. You may search job board from time to time for new postings and set up job alerts. Considering not all organizations use job boards to advertise job vacancies, I will recommend that you also search their websites and set up
The essence of this post is to create awareness of the hidden opportunities for lawyers in the Diamond Capital of North America and other locations in the Territory. By so doing lawyers and law students who are unable to land their dream law job in the South can give NWT a whirl. Albeit, this must be after they have done their due diligence and are convinced they will like it up there.
Despite the inclement weather conditions in the NWT, if you are convinced it’s time to look North for law jobs and are passionate about making the place a home, then don’t be discouraged. Just keep in mind that there is no bad weather but rather just bad dressing. Once you dress appropriately for the weather condition, you will be just fine
For more on legal jobs in the North, read Whitehorse, Yukon: Searching for law jobs while on a vacation trip in the North
Adegoke Arowosebe is a Calgary-based corporate lawyer. He holds an LL.M in Energy, Natural
and Environmental Law from the University of Calgary and an MBA in Global Leadership from the University of Fredericton.