Student stories

Catherine Bright (UVic Law) graduates with articling position with former co-op employer

Catherine Bright

BC Ministry of Justice

For graduating student Catherine Bright, UVic Law offered the perfect hands-on opportunity to explore the profession before graduation. “I chose UVic for its co-op program because I wanted to come at law with a practical focus and to have support getting interesting jobs in a competitive market after graduation,” says Catherine. Not only did Catherine gain real-world work experience as part of the co-op program, she also graduated into an articling position with one of her former employers, the BC Ministry of Justice.

Catherine’s success in the co-op program was grounded in her curiosity for exploring what she could do with her law degree. Her co-ops were united by her interest in social justice but differed in terms of her employers, the sectors she worked in and the locations where she worked. After Catherine’s first year of law school, she moved to northeast BC to work at the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society. Catherine’s work focused on poverty law advocacy and she supported local families with everything from residential tenancy work to social assistance. In her third work term, Catherine joined Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik Legal Services, a legal aid clinic, in Iqaluit, Nunavut. While in Iqaluit, she worked primarily on criminal cases securing judicial interim release, or “bail,” for low-income clients.

While she greatly enjoyed those terms, it was Catherine’s second co-op work term with the BC Ministry of Justice’s Legal Services Branch that has led to her success after graduation. At the Legal Services Branch, Catherine worked in debt and collection law, helping to provide legal advice within the BC government.

During her co-op, the ministry began its interview process for articling positions. On the advice of her supervisor, Catherine applied for the job. Working in the department during this process gave Catherine insight that would have been difficult to find elsewhere. “It was definitely beneficial to have already worked there on co-op—the experience gave me important knowledge about the work of government lawyers and the interview process would have been more difficult without that context.” After two rounds of interviews, Catherine was a successful candidate and had her articling position lined up as she entered her final year of law school.  

While one co-op term in particular paved the way for Catherine’s transition from university, each of Catherine’s co-op experiences have proven crucial for her career development. “The practical bent of my co-op terms has been invaluable,” she says. “I found that I was much more invested in exploring and understanding the law when I was working with real people and real problems.”

Catherine isn’t sure where her law degree will take her after articling, but her values and experiences from all her co-op work terms will help shape what’s next. “I’d like to provide a trustworthy, passionate and steady voice for those who find it difficult to speak for themselves,” she says. “I will go wherever my experience takes me. My flexibility and openness helped me to have a great co-op experience, and I think it will serve me well moving forward!”

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