Monday, 29 August 2011

The Countdown is On ...

Just 10 more days and I'll be in Johannesburg, South Africa for a 7 month placement with the Canadian Bar Association's Young Lawyers International Program  (YLIP) funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  I'm very pleased to have been placed with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Johannesburg, a legal human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) which functions as an independent, client-based, non-profit public interest law clinic for the vulnerable and marginalised.

Here's what's led me here in a nutshell.  After graduating from law school in 2005, I clerked at the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa, was called to the Nova Scotia Bar, and practiced for two years with a large regional law firm in Halifax.  I then spent two incredible years as a graduate student and academic at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom following which I returned to practice with the same law firm for one year.  In April, I learned of this opportunity to do legal development work and put in an application.  After a very intense phone interview, I got the email: "Congratulations! You have been selected ..."  A few weeks later I was in Ottawa with the other 18 lawyers selected for this program where we met Ian Morrison, the Director of YLIP, and undertook a four day orientation program.  Several role-playing exercises, smelly markers and silent card games later, we were officially "interculturally effective" diplomats and (naturally) best friends.

I leave Halifax on September 1.  After a few days visiting friends in London and Oxford, I'll touch down in Johannesburg.  "Are you excited?"  Yes.  Definitely.  I also feel something more than excitement.  I feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing.  For that, I'm grateful and I'm hopeful.