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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Kadavil

Turning Theory into Practice: A CPLED Instructor's Advice for Law Students

Hello! Please introduce yourself.

My name is Amanda A. Kadavil. I practice family law at Heritage Law Offices in South Edmonton, Alberta. I graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alberta in 2014, and I have been an active member of the Law Society of Alberta since 2015. I am also an active member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Edmonton Bar Association, the Alberta Family Mediation Society, and Family Mediation Canada.


I enjoy being part of the legal community and making a positive impact on the profession. I am a Mentor with the LSA Mentor Express program and the CBA mentorship program. I am also a part of the peer support team at the Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society (ASSIST) program, I volunteer at the Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC)- Family Law Clinic, and I am on the CBA North Woman Lawyers’ Forum Executive Board.


From the perspective of a CPLED instructor, what should law students do while in law school to be successful in practice? What useful skill sets can law students develop to help them succeed in CPLED?

In addition to practicing law, I have acted in various roles at CPLED’s Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) over the past few years. I am currently acting as an Assessor, Facilitator, and Reviewer.


The Bar admission exams act as a bridge between law school and the practice of law. I believe law students can best prepare themselves for success in the program by getting hands-on experience with the practice of law. PREP is focused on demonstrating competency in skill sets rather than legal theory, as is often the focus in law school. The biggest knowledge gap I have noticed in students is the inability to apply the skills they have learned in law school to practical, real-life situations. It is often a struggle for law students to get out of "school-mode" and move into "practitioner-mode".


I recommend law students seek opportunities to summer or intern at law firms early on in 1L/2L before articling, so they can become familiar with law firm culture and working with clients. I would also recommend getting court experience through volunteer programs/clinics during law school or by visiting the courtrooms to observe lawyers in action.


In law school, I would recommend taking Alternative Dispute Resolution courses such as Mediation and Negotiation, as these types of courses will teach valuable techniques that will help you succeed in the program. Taking courses/workshops in legal research and legal writing would also be beneficial as it will help hone your written skills. I would also recommend taking any opportunities available to practice your oral skills to assist in establishing a comfort level with making submissions in court and having discussions with counsel.


Lastly, I would recommend law students get involved with the legal community early on in their careers. Build relationships with your colleagues and senior counsel to learn and grow from their experiences. Seek out opportunities to make connections with people in various fields of law, as this will help you to determine the path you may want to pursue after law school. An easy way to do this would be to join the CBA, sign up to be a Mentee through the Law Society, and go to law events in your community. It is never too early to get involved, and the more comfortable you become with the profession, the smoother the transition will be from student to practitioner.


As a family law lawyer, what does your practice look like? Are there specific traits and qualities that can help a person be a good family law lawyer?

The practice of family law is constantly undergoing changes to keep up with the evolving social climate. I chose to practice in this area because I wanted to use my legal education to directly impact families in my community. I enjoy the practice as my clients are real people, living real lives—I get to see the value of my services affect people's day-to-day lives in a meaningful way. I also find this area of practice to be quite interesting as I meet clients from diverse backgrounds with various lifestyles and unique circumstances.


Family law is not for everyone—the practice can definitely take a mental toll on a lawyer as it can involve a lot of emotional conflict and interpersonal problems for clients. I believe the trait/quality in a lawyer that lends itself well to a successful practice in family law is the ability to exhibit the appropriate amount of compassion and sympathy to a client while maintaining a professional relationship. Being able to clearly establish boundaries and stay focused on the legal issues is essential for managing a family law file, as the subject matter can, at times, blur the lines as to your role in the file. Family law is definitely an area where hands-on experience is essential. Being an effective communicator and active listener are skills that will assist in successfully resolving family law matters.


If you could give one piece of advice to prospective or current law students to help them succeed, what would it be?

My one piece of advice would be to keep an open mind about your future. There are many opportunities available to you after you obtain a law degree beyond the traditional paths of becoming a solicitor/litigator. I have witnessed many people enter law school or the legal profession with a one-track mind, and when their experiences do not match up with their expectations, they quickly become disheartened with the practice of law. I believe the practice of law is undergoing a transition to become more adaptable and responsive to the needs of its lawyers and the community. It is an exciting time in the profession where new perspectives are valued, and new opportunities in the field of law are developing at a rapid pace.


What are your future plans going forward, and how can our readers connect with you in the future?

My future plans are to continue to learn and grow as the profession of law is ever-changing. I hope to make a positive impact on the legal profession and share my experiences with others.


Feel free to reach out to me at a.kadavil@heritagelaw.com


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