The “Work Your B.A.” conference took place from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2. It organized by McGill's Career Planning Service (CaPS) and the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), aiming to educate students in the Faculty of Arts about different career paths they can follow upon completing their Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree.
The “B.A. Lawyer. Is Law School for You?” event was held on Jan. 25 before a full audience. There were five guest speakers, all of whom are B.A. holders at different points in their careers. Each speaker spoke about their academic experiences.
First-year McGill law student Trevor May was the opening speaker. During his speech, May emphasized the heavy reading required in law school. He was firm in that students should only pursue the degree if they truly enjoy the work.
“Being a lawyer is a lot of work and it might involve making sacrifices in your personal life, so if you’re going to do this, you have to love it,” May said. “Don’t do it so you can wear suits and have plankers with your credentials on them.”
Having also completed a Masters degree in International Relations at McGill University, May explained that there was little overlap between what he learnt for his Bachelor’s degree, his Masters degree, and law school.
Another speaker at the conference was Adam Drori, an associate at Stikeman Elliott LLP, one of the most prominent business law firms in Montreal. Drori began his speech explaining his passion for law and how his career unfolded. Drori explained how growing up, law school was always something he could see in his future.
“I was one of those good little boys who growing up was told to go to law school and like a good little boy I did,” Drori said.
Drori explained the daily life of a lawyer and what it means to graduate from law school. He outlined the opportunities a law degree gives an individual beyond just working with the law. He explained that law school develops critical thinking and speaking skills that are important and valued in a wide variety of careers.
“If you don’t think that working in a law firm is what you necessarily want to do, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to law school.” Drori said.
The next speaker, Gillian Nycum, who has owned a music directing company and now works as a director of strategic initiatives at Human Impact Lab, explained how her background in law helped her with strategic and critical thinking and gave her credibility in the workplace.
“The amount of critical thinking I was able to develop while studying law really helped me develop [an ability to handle] adversity as I went through my career, not freaking out when challenges popped up and feeling like I could tackle things,” Nycum said.
Mario Bozzo, U0 Arts, said that Drori’s speech shed light on possible career options after studying law.
“I was really able to identify with Adam Drori, because I’ve also always wanted to go to law school, and seeing all the different paths I could take after law school really opened my eyes to how much I could do with my degree”.
Ali Martin Mayer, the assistant dean of the McGill Faculty of Law, received many questions during the Q&A section at the end of the event.
Mayer talked about the process of admissions at McGill’s Faculty of Law. She stressed the importance of creating relationships with professors and having good professional references.
“Coming from Arts, [a student] might have a slight advantage in that professors tend to speak that very elaborate language that admissions officers like,” Mayer said.