Career Spotlight is our monthly feature where we interview someone in the Calgary community about their line of work. This month’s spotlight features Residential Real Estate Law, and we talk to Lou P. about his work as a lawyer.

Q: How did you get into this career?

Practicing law was not my initial objective, but everyone said that a law degree would offer a lot of different opportunities –most people with law degrees don’t end up practicing law. I did not want to become an engineer because my brother was an engineer and I saw how hard he had to study. I thought that I could become a diplomat in Canada‘s Foreign Service, however, I did not speak French so I never got an interview and had no choice but to finish law school and practice law. I became a licensed lawyer and worked at a law firm that needed a junior associate in the real estate department, so I was asked to go into real estate.

Q: What do you like/dislike about this career?

I like the money, keeping my own hours, and, of course, working with and helping people. For some people practicing law can involve long hours but not for me. When you’re starting there can be complicated office politics to maneuver, but at my age there are no negatives to share.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in this career?

It’s a series of alternate phone calls, correspondence, client meetings, and working with assistants interspersed throughout the day.

Q: Would you recommend this career to someone starting out or switching careers?

That’s a hard one. The marketplace is changing. What was good for me may not necessarily be good in 10-15 years’ time. There are pressures from other outside entities, like title insurance companies trying to take over the home closing process –so residential real estate law may not be a viable career in the future, but it still is for the time being. I would still recommend a generic law degree, as there are limitless career opportunities provided through a law degree that don’t have to include practicing residential real estate law.

Q: What training/education would you recommend?

There is no choice in the matter: if you want to become a lawyer, you have to go through the prescribed process. There are people who end up in law school with all kinds of different backgrounds, so there is no prerequisite undergrad degree. That said, whatever first degree you do, you have to do well in it. For most law schools at least three years of university is required before applying to law. The process is usually four years in an undergrad, three years in law school, and one year articling.

Q: What’s your favourite part about your job?

There is no one thing that sticks out; it’s a combination of things. If I have to choose, I would say the independence – working for yourself and not having to work in a formal structure means the freedom to work in very different settings and as much or as little as you want.

Interview by Nicole Pesta
Registered Provisional Psychologist
Calgary Career Counselling