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Lara Merjane

February 8, 2022

Roz Bahrami

We had the pleasure of speaking with Lara Merjane, Corporate Lawyer at The Ross Firm Professional Corporation, about her journey as an internationally trained lawyer coming to Canada. Her path to completing the Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law at Osgoode began with a serendipitous celebratory trip to Cancun. From there, she took her experience in Labour and Employment Law from Brazil and applied to Osgoode. Lara tells us about her journey through accreditation, what she got out of the degree, and how more than anything, all the people she met along the way are the highlight of her story.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Brazil, but I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. I have been travelling and studying in different cultures and countries, such as Buenos Aires, New York City, Boston and Toronto for the past two decades.

I graduated from law school in Brazil and was first called to the bar in my home state (Goias) in February 2011. My area of practice was management-side Labour and Employment Law litigation. I represented many banks, telecommunication and technology companies regionally in Goias. After finishing a Master’s Degree in Economic Business Law in Argentina, my classmates and I planned a trip to Cancun to celebrate. That is where my story with Canada began. I met a Canadian staying in the same resort for that week and ended up travelling back and forth to Canada for the following two years, staying for long periods, until deciding to stay and get qualified to practice here. I applied to the Canadian Common Law LLM at Osgoode, signed up for an Intensive Advanced English Program, completed the LLM, took the bar exams, and I have now been practicing as a licensed lawyer since mid-2020. I am currently a Corporate Lawyer at The Ross Firm Professional Corporation.

What was your experience with the Intensive Advanced English Program?

I had wonderful professors in YUELI’s Intensive Advanced Legal English program who provided a smoother transition into Canadian culture and English legal writing.

There are a lot more cultural differences in writing than people imagine, and if it wasn’t for these professors and the Intensive Advanced Legal English program, I would probably be unaware of these peculiarities.

Language is one of the most important tools we use in law. It is very important that we communicate in the correct tone, which is most likely different from our native language, and adapt to the cultures’ writing as well. I believe this is something that is usually overlooked by immigrants. However, this should be paid close attention to if a prospective international student wants to advance in positions that demand sophistication in writing.

Why did you choose Osgoode?

Osgoode was my choice because of its strong reputation, the career guidance I discovered I could receive, and the support offered by the program staff.

There is a lot of effort from Osgoode program coordinators to get firms involved in recruiting students from the LLM program, preparing the students for these interviews, and getting their resumes ready.

I believe I was offered a lot more than just the classes and a degree. There was heavy involvement from the LLM staff to help the students graduating from the program to find a work placement.

How did the Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law help your professional career?

I applied to the LLM in Canadian Common Law to comply with the requirements of the National Committee on Accreditation, to later qualify as a lawyer in Ontario. It would not have been possible to achieve this goal without attending the program.

During the program, I met professors who helped me secure a position as a legal interpreter, associates who became references for my job applications, and colleagues who have referred me internally to get a work placement.

I can say with certainty that not only has the program helped me academically with my primary goal to practise as a lawyer in Canada, the networking with professors and colleagues led me to securing good positions in the market.

What advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Osgoode?

I would say they should try and keep good grades. This might seem obvious, but it is extremely important for the recruitment process. Additionally, prospective students should not forget to treat their colleagues with kindness, be helpful to others, exchange knowledge, notes, study together, enjoy Osgoode’s amazing library in study groups, and try to make the most out of their experience.

At the end of the day, everything is about people. The people in my program had amazing immigration stories where they overcame all kinds of hardships to be in that classroom. It is very inspiring to see what great things they will accomplish some day soon.

These people, who are so close to you in the classroom during your studies, will be the individuals who will help and inspire you when you are looking for a job. They will provide recommendations, advise you when dealing with someone difficult at your current job, or whatever struggle you may find in your future career.

We are all in the same boat and I was very fortunate that Osgoode had classmates helping each other not only during school years, but also in the many years of their careers ahead.

Want to learn more about the Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law? Sign up for an Information Session!

Corporate Lawyer, The Ross Firm Professional Corporation