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  • Writer's pictureMyka Kollman

Be True to You: My Journey to Finding an Alternative to Big Law

Hello! Please introduce yourself.

My name is Myka Kollmann, and I am currently articling at the Public Interest Advocacy Center (PIAC) in Ottawa. At PIAC, I am primarily working in consumer protection, competition law, and public policy.

 

I am a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa's Common Law program. Before law school, I lived in Vancouver, B.C., where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice and Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia. 

 

In law school, I participated in the Ticket Defence Program and the Human Rights Research Education Centre. I was a peer mentor, research assistant, and document specialist at the Career and Professional Development Centre (CPDC), where I helped law students with job applications and interviews. 

 

My main legal interests include exploring the intersection of international human rights and the regulation of emerging technologies. To explore these further, I interned at the Senate of Canada, working on an accessibility-based analysis of internet services, and co-authored a book chapter on pandemic-fighting technologies. I took numerous international law courses, including a United Nations Documenting seminar where I completed a directed research project for the UN repertoire and participated in a mock UN Security Council meeting. 



What motivated you to pursue a career in law?

Growing up in a family of scientists my dream job was to be a marine biologist. It wasn’t until high school that I realized I had an interest in law. It may have been from binge-watching Criminal Minds, but I realized that the law could be a way for me to pursue my passion for human rights and social justice. 


When I began law school, I still had no clue what I wanted to do. I had various interests but still needed to figure out a potential career for me. One thing I was sure of was that the law is an effective tool to inspire and create meaningful change. Having a law degree can open up doors for your future, which is great if you have not settled on a specific career path yet. 


This is to say it is okay if you have no idea what you want to do after law school. There are so many different traditional or JD advantage positions out there, where a law degree will not go to waste. 


UN Mock Security Council Meeting


What was your experience like in law school?

Law school can be a really tough adjustment, and it's completely normal and okay to feel lost. It's a whole new way of learning, note-taking, and thinking. For my first 3 weeks of law school, I took all my notes by hand (do not recommend) and pretty much had 3-4 pages outlining all the facts for each case. I very quickly realized this was unnecessary and not sustainable. As you progress through law school, you will learn what styles work for you and become more accustomed to what is expected of you.  


There is no denying that the law school workload can be heavy and stressful, but the connections I formed made my experience meaningful. I met many outstanding individuals who made my time in law school more enjoyable and more inspiring. Law school was intense, but having friends to lean on made all the difference. In 2L, we formed a law school dodgeball team and played every semester till graduation, participating in the Med-Law games and various sports tournaments at the university. 


Taking courses that interested me also greatly benefited my experience. Focus on courses you are excited about, not just ones you think you should take. One of my favorite parts of my law school experience was the internship courses I took. Being outside of the classroom and getting practical experience was insightful. At the Senate, I got to participate in committee meetings and witness discussions on potential changes to the law. At Heritage Canada, I completed a technology law internship on internet regulation. Exploring these different areas of law and taking more exciting courses made those 8:30 am classes easier to get to.


Sports Day


How did you find your articling position?

I found my articling position by participating in the Ottawa articling recruit. 


In my first and second year of law school, I decided not to go through the recruitment process. In my 1L summer, I completed an SPI with the Just Governance Group and began working at the CPDC. In 2L, I started the Ottawa recruitment process, but part way through, I realized the firm life was not for me. I decided to withdraw and focus on finding an alternative path more aligned with my interests and goals. While this was a scary decision and I was further away from a job than ever, I do not regret it as it led me to two positions I loved. I completed a fellowship with The Feminist Alliance for International Action and worked as a Research Assistant in international internet regulation. Not participating in the 1L or 2L recruit means you may have to go through more job-searching processes, but it also means you get to experience an extensive range of positions and areas of law. These more alternative positions during my summers all helped me secure my job through the articling recruit. 


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

My main advice would be that your path might not look like those around you, but that doesn’t mean it is not right for you. It is essential to keep an open mind to new opportunities and to take chances on what comes your way. It might not be your first choice, but it can expose you to an area of law or career that you may love but would not have known otherwise. As I mentioned, I did not follow the traditional recruitment process, but I found a fantastic articling position where I am exploring my interests and passions. This would not have been possible if I had gone where I thought I was supposed to go. 

 

Also, network with fellow students and faculty. Professors are excellent resources who are there to help you learn beyond the classroom and can help guide you along your career path. I secured my fellowship in my 2L summer through a professor who very kindly agreed to help me find something that aligned with my interests. Your relationships with classmates will transcend law school. Form your professional network and it can act as a support system.


Lastly, try to enjoy the process! It is so easy to get wrapped up in where you are headed, but law school can also be a lot of fun. So don’t forget to live it up a little and connect with others in the law community. 


Attending SCC Event


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

I don't know what my plans will be but I am keeping as many doors open as possible and focusing on networking and building connections. 

 

Please feel free to reach out anytime! You can email me at mykakollmann24@gmail.com or connect on LinkedIn.


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