Shalini Ayalasomayajula was recently called to the Bar here in Alberta. Shalini immigrated to Toronto to be with her husband in 2014. She is now poised to embark on a promising legal career. However, her journey to this point has not been without its challenges.
“I just didn’t want to sit back and write exams. I wanted to get my feet in the legal industry,” says Shalini.
She had already earned a law degree in India, but internationally trained lawyers (ITL) must go through the Accreditation process overseen by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). in Canada. After becoming accredited, the ITL has to complete their articles which take 8 -12 months, and then be called to the Bar.
“For some success might come in two years, and for some, it might take 10, but for me, it took like 7 years because of various other reasons Everyone has their time, and one needs to keep going until they reach their goal,” says Shalini.
“Initially there were so many rejections. I was taken aback, you have to give a person a chance to show what they are capable of, just because the candidate is from a different country doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit,” says Shalini
Unfortunately, Shalini faced a lot of discrimination as a newcomer to Canada, but she was able to continue despite the hardships.
“The legal field is mostly a client-facing industry. Which means we have to talk right and make a point as soon we make contact. Sooner than later, I realized that I must be vocal or else people won’t respect me, if I don’t respect myself. So that’s what I did. I once read somewhere that good girls don’t do wonders only bold girls do Coming to a new country and proving yourself, I believe is a bold move for every immigrant,” explains Shalini.
In Calgary, Shalini became a mentee with CRIEC, meeting her mentor, Nitin Kumar Srivastava, who she still has contact with.
Shalini recalls his advice to her, “just because you had some difficult times in Ontario, doesn’t mean you should have that mental block, or that everyone will be the same.”
She thanks CRIEC for helping her find a great mentor, at a time when she did not understand where and how to start building contacts. Her mentor helped in brainstorming, focusing on her strengths and ultimately motivating her to have the right kind of approach in building relationships and networking. This resulted in securing her articles and having a breakthrough in her legal career in Alberta.
She has since joined Juriscorp Law in Edmonton and is excited to be starting a new chapter in her life. She hopes to use her experiences to help other newcomers who may be struggling with similar challenges.
“I do have high hopes for my career in law. Yes, high hopes that I would be able to make a place for myself in society. Law has always been my passion since I was 14 and I am happy that I was able to achieve it, although there are miles to go.”
Shalini’s story is a testament to the resilience and perseverance of newcomers to Canada. Despite facing significant obstacles, she remained committed to her goals and achieved success through hard work and dedication. Her story also highlights the need for greater awareness and action to combat discrimination and racism in all its forms.
“Mentoring plays a very important role in your mentee’s life. Mentors are like potters and mentees are like clay. It is very easy for the potter to make or break and give the clay a shape that the potter likes. Mentees must believe in themselves. Mentors should never ever forget that you were once in their position. Never forget your roots. Please don’t take advantage of people who come to you for help and have put their trust in you, irrespective of being a mentee or mentor. Take it seriously, take your life seriously and stay dedicated.”
Shalini believes in karma and destiny, and that you will get back what you give. Through our conversation, Shalini spoke of her family, her husband and son, with great love and pride. She shared her family’s values of dedication and perseverance. I want to leave you with this final quote:
“I would say patience and perseverance are very important. Just because there were roadblocks several times, that didn’t stop me. I found my way around it. The key is to keep going. There should never be a full stop no matter what you are doing. A comma and a semi colon are fine. But never be a full stop.”