Thought then Action!
Research Your Game Plan – then Execute it as Well as You Can
Edos Omorotionmwan’s Story
If you listen to Edos Omorotionmwan tell his story of how he successfully transitioned his career path as a lawyer from Nigeria to Canada, one word stands out loud and clear: Research!
To be clear, this is not a warm and fuzzy word. Research almost always means plenty of detailed work. But when Edos and his family decided Canada would be their new home, he knew research was needed.
“I had been practicing law in Nigeria for 15 years before coming to Canada, and the laws are similar because both countries (Canada and Nigeria) share a foundation rooted in ‘common law’ [as opposed to “civil law” as it the legal foundation in Quebec and in more than 80% of the world]. However, in order to successfully move my whole family over to Canada and find a job, I needed a game plan,” Edos shares.
When they first arrived in 2013 their first stop was Ontario.
“We did this because I wanted to take the lectures at York University through Osgood Law School and then register for the NCA exams [the transfer exams all internationally trained lawyers must complete as a first step to re-accreditation],” he says.
Once those exams were completed, Edos and his wife looked at the broad Canadian landscape and decided Calgary was where they would call home.
“And we love everything, but the weather – it’s something we are still getting used to!”
Next, Edos needed to secure articles and gain work experience in the law field. He did not know the community, so finding employment was not quite in his sight yet.
“I looked to the non-profit community in Calgary for support. At my first event CRIEC was mentioned and how I needed to connect with them. They were right!”
Over the past 5 years, CRIEC, the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council, has developed a range of supports for internationally trained lawyers like Edos, including mentoring, career path planning, and other strategies designed to secure meaningful employment in Canada.
“From the moment I connected with them, I knew this was going to be very helpful.”
Edos was connected with his Mentor Bruce, and that relationship gave him the support and additional knowledge he needed to secure articles, find volunteer work and eventually be called to the Law Society of Alberta as a lawyer.
“My Mentor was indispensable. As much research as I could do, I still had only lived in the country for a couple of years. My Mentor guided me with the knowledge and direction I needed.”
After passing his exams and now being able to practice law in Canada, his Mentor supported him with one more step.
“In 2017, I started my own practice with a partner. It’s been a great experience, the whole journey has made me realize how indispensable a mentor is, and now I am a Mentor with CRIEC myself. Life comes full circle and I am giving back.”
Volunteering, including mentoring, are now a big part of Edos’ life. He and his family are now settled – they are still adjusting to the weather, but are proud to call themselves Calgarians!
“It has been a long journey, but research and guidance from my Mentor are what got us here. My advice to anyone looking to embark on a similar journey is to do two things: lots of research and then reach out for support from great organizations such as CRIEC.”
Edos and other CRIEC ITL’s at a mentoring session
CRIEC builds pathways and positive relationships between Calgary employers and internationally trained professionals (ITPs) that encourage hiring and retention.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Milton Berle
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