What the CBA has meant to me

  • March 13, 2019
  • Claudia Arrieta

I immigrated to Canada from El Salvador in 2010. Very soon after arriving I decided to pursue a career as a lawyer. One of the challenges I faced was not having access to inside knowledge about the process I had to follow – I knew no lawyers, law students or law professionals who could share their journey with me. As a newly landed Canadian, I had only heard Reddit mentioned and had no clue what it was.

In time, I completed my undergraduate degree, wrote the LSAT, graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. Nine years after immigrating, I am three months away from being called to the bar.

Even though I have managed to get to this point, I find it is now more than ever that I need to connect with people who work in my field, who are going through some of the things I’m going through and who, by virtue of their experience, can contribute to my journey. Being a member of the CBA has given me the opportunity to join Canada’s legal community. It has given me access to the voices of experienced lawyers, young lawyers, law students, judges, litigators, and solicitors.

Recently, I attended an event titled “Junioring a Trial” and learned what first chairs would need from me. I listened to the experiences of women in the law through the Women Lawyer Forum and became motivated to embrace my story and own my voice. I have found an amazing mentor who is giving me her time and teaching me valuable lessons every time I meet with her.

I realize it sounds like I’ve only taken from the CBA, but don’t worry: I will give back. The good thing about the CBA is that it is a “give and take” kind of relationship.

Claudia Arrieta B.A., J.D., is an articled student with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, and Co-Vice Chair of the CBA Law Students Section