Nick Hawkins has always been obsessed with the stock market. “It’s a fascinating window into both the economy and human behaviour,” he says. “One of my long-time goals has been to build a career that taps into that interest.”
Once Hawkins graduated from law school, at the University of Ottawa, he got to work. His first move was to enroll in the Law Practice Program (LPP) at Ryerson University, one of the paths to licensing in Ontario. The program begins in the fall with four months of real-time online and in-person training; in the winter, it concludes with a four-month work placement. Though the LPP will help everyone in the program secure a placement, it also encourages candidates to seek out a position on their own. Hawkins, sensing an opportunity to enter the investment world, chose the entrepreneurial route.
He approached the Ontario Securities Commission, which regulates the province’s capital markets, and asked if it could offer him a position. The gambit worked: he landed a four-month paid work placement at the Commission. And, today, he works there as an in-house legal counsel. “I love my job,” he says. “It’s a dream come true.” Here, he explains how the LPP helped him launch his legal career.
During the first half of the LPP, candidates handle mock files in a range of practice areas, such as corporate, criminal and family. Talk about that experience.
“The training was practical. This allowed me to discover my potential as a working lawyer. In one criminal-law exercise, for instance, I took a client through proceedings in front of a judge, who was played by one of the program’s lawyer-mentors.
I performed better in that environment than I ever did at law school, where I studied criminal law in the abstract. “After the exercise, the mentor even offered me her card and invited me to contact her after I finished the program. If she’d only seen my transcripts, I may not have made the same impression.”
Once you began your work placement at the Ontario Securities Commission, what sort of legal work was on your plate?
“It was a busy time. We were updating the regulations that govern the so-called exempt market. This basically refers to securities that are not traded on the public stock exchange, and that can be sold without a prospectus. I was helping to draft and revise those new rules.”
How did the LPP help you succeed once you arrived in the workplace?
“The program teaches you to analyze and critique information, which is a big part of regulatory work. I had the confidence to share my opinions and speak my mind. I think my colleagues appreciated that.”
Would you recommend the program to current law students?
“Absolutely. It gave me exposure to a wide range of legal work, and it helped me make valuable connections in the profession. The program gave me the tools I needed to chart my own path.”
The Law Practice Program at Ryerson University is a rigorous eight-month training program that equips law-school graduates with the practical skills they need to become great lawyers. To learn more, visit ryerson.ca/lpp.