Small companiesideal fo kick-starting a career

Small companiesideal fo kick-starting a career

Gabriel Couturier

Intern, Legal and corporate affairs

Small companies: ideal fo kick-starting a career

We joined forces with Blue Bridge last May following a Bachelor of Laws at the Université de Montréal. From the trust  administration department to the corporate and legal services, we’ve been assigned a variety of mandates that has given us a rite of passage, signed Blue Bridge.

What was our motive behind kick-starting our legal career in a SME with less than 15 years in business? To answer this question, first we need to look into how universities perceive the legal scene in Québec.

Clearly, large legal firms play a pivotal role in university advertising. They are key industry players with the financial means and significant recruiting needs. On the other hand, this advertising has a perverse effect on the university environment, particularly regarding the internship race.

To access a career as a professional lawyer, one of the Québec Bar membership requirements is to have completed a six-month internship. The internship race, set by an agreement between roughly fifty recruiters, is therefore the best framework to quickly and effectively gain professional experience. Students can apply for an internship as early as their second bachelor year. In addition, financial perks for students are a big incentive with the possibility of landing a summer job, a paid Bar membership and competitive salaries.

Every single recruiter will tell you that this process is not for everyone. At present, 20% of students who take part in the race for an internship are those who have the best academic standing or established contacts within the field. For the rest, the adventure begins. With a saturated legal market (there are over 25 000 lawyers in Québec alone), becoming a lawyer is not the most alluring of careers, even though it does offer a wide range of possibilities. Aside from private practice, young professionals can start their own business, turn to public service, or, as it is in our case, explore the legal branches of business..

This is where Blue Bridge comes in. We found all the advantages of a structured business that operates with a small staff. Because the team is small, we benefit from a proximity with decision makers, the ability to better control accounts, a variety of mandates, a business-oriented practice and the possibility to directly relate with multi-sectorial professionals.

As interns, when we look at the day-to-day, we are privileged to have direct contact with heads of different Blue Bridge departments and experts with loads of experience. We can count on them to zealously answer all our questions. It is this exact proximity that guarantees us a steep learning curve within a short amount of time, touching on legal, administrative and financial sectors.

Another huge advantage is that we were given the confidence of our team, which allowed us to better manage our work—something that would make our colleagues with internships in larger legal firms green with envy. In fact, the small scale of the business allows us to follow our mandates from beginning to end, with a say every step of the way.

In essence, we gain considerable experience in an array of disciplines, be it corporate affairs, administrative affairs, labour rights, securities or private international law. As a young professional at the very start of a career, this diversity is a true gold mine that allows us to hone in on our interests and identify our more long-term goals.

Even though practice within legal departments is not as prescribed by universities as large legal firms, the advantages differ substantially, bestowing an enriching experience that allows interns to develop unprecedented multi-disciplinary skills in a short amount of time.

Co-written with Anne-Sophie McGall