How new lawyers can discover balance and opportunity in rural Ontario
Mark Baker’s recent blog post, “If you build it they will come” takes a close look at some of the obstacles small firms face in trying to attract young lawyers to work in rural communities.
This post inspired a conversation between Mark Baker, a partner with Ferguson Barristers since 2007, and Rachel Leck, the youngest lawyer at Ferguson Barristers. In this Ontario Injury Lawyer Blog post, Mark interviews Rachel to gain some critical insights into how firms can attract young talent, and how a young lawyer can benefit from practicing law in a rural community.
Q: Because of the debt accumulated by students, the allure of higher paying positions in urban centres can be tough for a young lawyer to turn down. How do you think small firms should highlight that, though debt may exist, it does not draw away from the benefits that small firms can offer?
A: For many students, the expenses associated with their education can be a heavy burden. After so many years focused on education, most of us are keen to be able to use what we’ve learned. We need to draw the attention of these communities to the fact that legal professionals are also vital to the operation of the community, and students need to work with them to see if incentives can be given.
Q: Are we reaching out to the appropriate age group when we speak to students?
A: Unfortunately, the demographics that small law-firms have been traditionally catering towards, are lawyers with goals of creating families in mind, which are looking for a more relaxed climate that they can raise a family within. This means that new lawyers that are looking for a more fast paced environment may not be attracted to rural areas for the same reasons.
I think that if small firms want to attract new lawyers, they need to create a challenging work environment that offer opportunities to exercise their drive and desire to meet with success in the early stages of their career. In many ways, the rural environment lends itself to achieving a balance that may be more difficult to find in large urban firms.
Q: What are small Ontario law firms doing to change their current situations? What should they be doing in the future?
A: Firms that take the initiative to work together with other small law firms in Ontario can offer new lawyers the kind of variety, challenge and opportunity that they experience in large urban firms, while enjoying the relaxed lifestyle that smaller towns can offer. Programs like the Ontario Referring lawyer network, founded by Rod Ferguson are a good example of one way Ontario injury law firms have achieved both the objectives of making justice available to rural communities, and allowing rural firms to be part of a larger community of lawyers in the area.
It is vital that small firms communicate all of the benefits they have to offer, including a more balanced lifestyle, lower cost of living, greater ability to directly influence what happens in their community and the opportunity to work directly with experienced partners. We have made a progressive effort to embrace new forms of communication to connect with both our local and legal communities to make sure those messages are being shared.
Or call us directly at 1-800-563-6348 to find out more about our Ontario Referring Lawyer Program