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Practicing Law in Northern Canada


BanzaiPipeline

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BanzaiPipeline
  • Law Student

Wondering if there is anyone here who can speak to their experience of practicing law in Northern Canada. Particularly, if anyone has experience in Corporate/Commercial or natural resources law. Would love to hear stories of how people ended up there and what they find rewarding in the work. In particular, interested in Yellowknife, Fort Mac and Whitehorse.

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TheDevilIKnow
  • Lawyer

I am just a student like you, but I learned a little bit while living in Fort Mac before law school. The short answer, unfortunately, is that the corporate/commercial and resource lawyers don't actually work up there. Like most of the industrial bigwigs and eggheads, the lawyers making those deals are typically based out of Calgary. Sure, they can fly up if they need to, but I think that would be quite rare. Suncor, for instance - which must be the biggest employer in YMM - is actually based in YYC. The legal market in Fort Mac is mainly really small scale retail law and, of course, criminal (lots of that work to go around, however).

I suspect that the same is true in YT or NT. Any companies doing anything really big will be using firms based down south. If you look at the roll of lawyers on the Yukon Law Society website, for example, most of them aren't actually based in Yukon. The exception, for those two spots, would likely be the territorial governments themselves. I understand they both have reasonably sized legal departments, and must do some interesting resource and aboriginal law work. FYI the DOJ offices there are also very small, if I understand correctly.

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ZineZ worked for a territorial government, so not exactly corporate law, but his experience might be relevant to you. He details some of it in the thread below. 

 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer

In addition to the territorial governments, there are a few indigenous/aboriginal law firms that have offices up north and do corporate work for various Nations and Bands. I know OKT has a Yellowknife office, for example. 

And then there are outpost offices of some larger firms, such as Lawson Lundell and McLennan Ross. 

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BanzaiPipeline
  • Law Student

Thanks!

On 1/28/2023 at 9:04 AM, BlockedQuebecois said:

In addition to the territorial governments, there are a few indigenous/aboriginal law firms that have offices up north and do corporate work for various Nations and Bands. I know OKT has a Yellowknife office, for example. 

And then there are outpost offices of some larger firms, such as Lawson Lundell and McLennan Ross. 

Thanks to everyone. Yes, some big firms have outpost offices in Yellowknife where they do a lot of corporate work. OKT has an office in Yellowknife and Woodward and Co. has a Whitehorse office. While most of the Northern law seems to be done out of Calgary( and Vancouver and Edmonton to some degree), definitely seems like there is work up there as well. 

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