Sing on!

  • May 03, 2019
  • Naomi Schmold

Note: This is an excerpt from Truth Be Told, An Anthology of Inspirational Stories by Women in the Law, published by the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA). It’s no secret that the study and practice of Law can be challenging. This anthology contains 114 diverse personal stories by women in the law. It’s meant to help guide and inspire readers who may one day join the legal profession, who are studying law, or who are starting out in practice. Truth Be Told is available through ACTLA, at Audreys Books in Edmonton and Shelf Life Books in Calgary.

My first passion in life was singing. Musical theatre, opera and jazz were my favourites. Performing was my side gig as I paid my way through two university degrees. It also helped me become a better lawyer and person because performance required me to put myself in someone else’s shoes in order to better understand them. Now my passions are law and the pursuit of equality and justice. Although I sometimes feel miles away from my musical roots, I use the communication skills I developed as a singer every day with colleagues and clients. I remember deciding whether to write the LSAT exam and apply to law school. I eventually mustered my courage (also built up over years of performing) and went for it! If I could pass on a few words of advice to my younger self as she took this leap of faith, this is what I might say.

Dear Younger Self,

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Of course, you will have questions: How will I afford this? How will I find the time? Am I smart enough? Don’t let these questions deter you. Take one small step at a time. You can have no remorse later as long as you try your best. On the other hand, if you let fear or uncertainty make the decision for you, you could have many regrets. I can assure you, young Naomi, everything will work out!

A traditional legal career (often the only model promoted within law school) is likely not for everyone. If you want to be a senior partner at a multi-national firm, that’s great! But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you don’t belong in law school. A legal education is one of the best tools to equip yourself with, and it will help you do almost anything you could want. I now know that law school will change the way you view the world. You will be glad you stuck with it.

Explore your passions as they relate to law - if you find one, it will be your ticket to ultimate career satisfaction. (P.S. Naomi, your future passion is privacy law.)

Seek out mentors who inspire you and who demonstrate qualities you’d like to emulate. Learn everything you can from them. Once you have become established in your career, you will pay it forward.

Although important, at the end of the day, your academic achievements will not determine your success. It will be your ability to successfully connect with others that will set you apart.

Don’t be afraid to fail: learning from missteps is a better education than any shiny course or degree. Some days are difficult, and some are exceptional - in law and in life. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

Just be you! No one else will be better at it.

Continue to cultivate healthy relationships, interests and outside passions that foster resilience and help put the rollercoaster of life in perspective. In our case, Naomi, that means one thing...

Sing on!

Naomi Schmold is the Chief Privacy Officer and Managing Legal Counsel for a large energy corporation. She is an avid supporter of music and the arts in Edmonton, including Edmonton Opera, where she was a member for over a decade. She continues to sing around campfires, in the shower and on demand for her two-year-old daughter.