Career Advice

Whitehorse, Yukon: Searching for law jobs while on a vacation trip in the North

Adegoke Arowosebe

Yesterday, I recalled an interesting but adventurous story of two tourists I read many years ago. One beautiful Summer, these Edmontonians drove through Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. On their return trip, they decided to spend a couple of nights in Whitehorse to see Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada and other tourist attractions around the city. Thrilled by its hospitability, the availability of outdoors opportunities, and the warmness of its residents, they decided to relocate there a year later.

 

Every Summer, thousands of people drive through the Canadian-Alaska Highway. The majority of these travelers swing by Yukon, of which a handful of them would entertain the thoughts of living in the territory if only they could get jobs there. If young lawyers and law students are among these travelers they will be curious, as well, about Yukon’s legal markets and how to secure law jobs in the territory.

 

At this time of shrinking legal job market in Canadian urban areas, intuitive job seekers should consider being geographically flexible by considering rural communities and even the North for legal career opportunities.  Yukon is one place where lawyers and law students often neglect while searching for job opportunities. Perhaps due to the dearth of information about their legal career prospect in the territory.

 

This post provides some guides to people pondering on how to get law jobs in Whitehorse or any other locations in Yukon.

Signposts along Alaska Highway
Image: Signpost Forest along Alaska Highway

 

Legal Jobs Market in Yukon

Even though there are occasional ads for legal positions in Whitehorse, there is no publicly accessible statistics on the available legal jobs in Yukon Territory. However, a comparison of the number of lawyers in Yukon to the population offers some clues about the size of the legal jobs market in the territory. According to a report released by Canada’s Department of Justice, there is a shortage of private lawyers available to represent parties in family and civil disputes litigation in Yukon.

Based on the Law Society of Yukon’s membership directory as of July 20, 2017, only about half of the 143 lawyers that are resident in the territory and that have an active practicing status are in private practice. And with an estimated population of 37,800, the ratio of lawyers to the residents of the territory is disproportionally high. Given this deduction, it does appear there is a market to be served by lawyers in Yukon. If you truly like it up North and you are thinking of where to set up your law practice, you may want to consider Yukon as one of your choices.

 

Practicing Law in Yukon

To practice law in Yukon, you must be a member of the Law Society of Yukon. Information on how to become a member of the society and other licensing requirements are available here. Lawyers looking to set up their law practice in Yukon should, in addition to consulting the Society about the licensing process, ensure they have a business plan that will guide them in setting up and running their law practice in Yukon.

There are quite a number of law firms in Yukon. They include Tucker Carruth, Austring Fendrick & Fariman, Lamarche & Lang, Woodward & Company, Shier & Jerome, Morris & Sova, Roothman & Company, and Lackowicz & Hoffman.

 

Non-Traditional Law Jobs

Legal paraprofessionals (legal assistants, paralegals, legal secretaries, law clerks, conveyancers etc.) are always needed in law firms, government departments and in the judicial branch. Similarly, there will be need for talents in non-traditional law jobs such as contract administrators, compliance specialists, and privacy specialist in both private and public sectors.

 

How to get Law Jobs in Yukon

To find a legal job in Yukon, you can use one or more of these three options. First, search job board from time to time for new postings and set up job alerts. Second, given not all organizations use job boards to advertise their employment vacancies, it is good to search their websites. Third, you could also consider making unsolicited calls to law firms and lawyers to find out if they are hiring and if they are not, request they keep you in mind. For general tips on how to search for law jobs, read Getting your First Job After Law School.

 

Conclusion

The essence of this post is to highlight the opportunities available for lawyers and law students who are considering pursuing legal careers in Yukon. Job market conditions do change from time to time, therefore, the information provided in this post is only applicable to the prevailing market conditions at the time of publication. Candidates should do adequate consultations and thorough assessments of the living conditions of the territory to determine if they will like it there and insist they get a written job offer from their to-be employers before making any relocation plan. Also, having a career opportunity in Yukon should not be the sole basis for relocating there. Rather, you must ensure the lifestyles up there align with your long-term goal.

 

For more on legal jobs in the North, read Yellowknife, NWT: It’s Time to Look North for Law Jobs.