Student stories

Law student finds a solid career in Yellowknife

Tú Pham

Federal Crown

Tú Pham has carved out an exciting law career for himself in Yellownife, after a co-op work term in the city. He shares his story below.

Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming a lawyer.  My first career was spent owning and operating a small computer shop in Steveston, BC.  It wasn’t until a tragic twist of fate that I first became exposed to our system of laws as a victim of crime.  Through this experience, I quickly became fascinated with how the criminal justice system worked and realized that I wanted more out of both life and my career.  After eight years in the computer business, I took a leap of faith and went back to school to pursue this quest for more.

My journey back through academia started with an undergrad in Commerce at the University of British Columbia - Sauder School of Business and it continued on to a law degree at the University of Victoria.  I chose UVic mostly for its reputation as the school that cares, for its small school feel and for the strength of its co-op program.  During my time at UVic, I authored a major research paper that considered Charter arguments on drug policy in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.  I also completed clinical terms working in environmental and in poverty law.

Starting my legal career in the North was an easy decision.  Having spent a winter co-op term here in 2011, I was well aware of just how special of a place Yellowknife was.  I was drawn back for its spectacular nature, the friendliness of its people, the collegiality of its bar, and for the opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives.

I arrived in Yellowknife early in the summer of 2013 after taking a scenic route that led me through 19 countries across five continents over four months.  When I finally got here, settling in was surprisingly easy due largely to the countless acts of kindness and friendship offered by various lawyers on both sides of the criminal bar.  The toughest challenge was probably getting used to the sun setting just before midnight and rising only four hours later.

Since returning to the North, I have received amazing mentorship and have been provided with countless unique learning opportunities.  One of my favourite experiences was working alongside my private firm rotation principal Sheldon Toner as counsel to the Registrar at the Tlicho Grand Chief Election.  We were responsible for advising the Registrar on how to address various legal issues as they arose on Election Day.  This included determining voter eligibility, addressing polling station issues and responding to ballot spoiling concerns.  This experience was an incredible chance to work in a remote aboriginal community, directly with its people, in a welcoming environment.

I currently working as an articling student and represent the Federal Crown in prosecuting criminal code and drug related offences.  My work commonly involves reviewing evidence, preparing witnesses for trial and presenting the Crown’s case before the court.  I am also in the final stages of completing the local bar admission course and will soon become a full lawyer.  While many of my less experienced colleagues have struggled with this course, I have breezed through it with surprising ease due in large part to the vast experience that I gained through the UVic Law co-op program.

While there certainly are times where I miss the comfort of friends and family in Vancouver, Yellowknife is quickly turning into an adopted home.  I look forward to many more wonderful years of my adventures in the North.

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