REAL Stories

What is it like to work for a law firm in a high needs community? 

Find out by reading these REAL Stories from the front lines written by the second year law students who worked across the province this past summer. 

Firms and students who are interested in participating in the REAL Program in 2020 can fill out application forms found here.


Sara Hilliard | Revelstoke
at Christopher Johnston & Associates

I was fortunate enough to spend my summer in the beautiful town of Revelstoke. I worked for Christopher Johnston & Associates, a multi-practice firm with three lawyers and one articling student. I got to work on a variety of files, which was great experience as I went into law school not really knowing which area of law to specialize in. The people I worked with were wonderful. The lawyers were very helpful and knowledgeable, and the secretaries were so much fun to work with.

I am so grateful for the experience I gained this summer.

Revelstoke is an amazing town, especially if you love the outdoors. They have a huge selection of amazing hiking trails. As an avid hiker, Revelstoke was paradise for me. They also have tons of cool waterfalls, white water rafting, and a beautiful golf course. There is also the pipe mountain coaster, which is definitely a must do if you are planning on stopping in Revelstoke anytime over the summer.

Revelstoke is also filled with tons of great restaurants, cafes, and pubs to check out. There are lots of hidden gems there. I was also fortunate enough to be there when their second brewery opened up! As a craft beer lover, this was pretty exciting for me.

The town is very cute and quaint. Its nestled in between two huge and gorgeous mountain ranges, and the Columbia river runs through the middle of it. It is very small, but you never run out of things to do! It was an incredible place to live.


Jordan Sperling | Nelson

Thanks to the REAL Program I had a wonderful summer working with a solo criminal law practitioner in beautiful Nelson, BC. Working one on one with an experienced lawyer afforded me an in depth experience in criminal law as I was able to partake in virtually every aspect of the practice.

My principal entrusted me with substantive legal work including: routine appearances at both Supreme and Provincial Court levels (fix dates, arraignments, elections), written submissions, legal research, filing applications, client communication, legal billing, and more. I even conducted a trial in Traffic Court. I was also able to simply watch numerous of my boss’ trials and hearings, and to sit in with him as he negotiated with Crown Counsel, conducted client interviews and so on. It was a highly educational and adventurous summer.


Emily Beggs | Hazelton

This summer I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with Linda Locke, Q.C. at Upper Skeena Counseling and Legal Assistance Society. The North faces the challenge of not having enough lawyers for the demand of work. This means that as a law student in the North I got the opportunity to have a taste of a variety of areas of law with enough guidance to support my growth as a legal professional. I assisted clients in a range of issues from poverty law to criminal to family to on reserve wills and estates. This broad range of work solidified my decision to become a lawyer. It also meant that I was working all over the north from Smithers to Prince Rupert and gave me an opportunity to explore this beautiful area of BC. I am happy to report that I’m returning to Hazelton for articles once I finish my degree!

I grew up in Vancouver and this was also my first opportunity to live in a smaller town . I quickly learned that the style of life in Smithers was much more my speed. The sense of community and kindness that occurs when you see the same people around town warmed my heart. Additionally so many people were interested in getting outdoors and exploring this area – my biggest worry began to be how am I going to afford all these hobbies!

If you are at all considering applying for a job through REAL, I highly recommend it!


Kendra Murray | Haida Gwaii

I was very excited to be spending the summer working for Meghan Wallace on the north coast of Haida Gwaii. It did not disappoint. Coming from the Yukon I was familiar with living and working in remote areas so the summer in Masset was both very unique, yet somehow quite familiar. It offered varied living and work opportunities. 

For work, I spent the summer assisting Meghan with family, wills and estates and real estate files, researching and writing argument for appearances in court, and conducting or assisting with client interviews. I had the opportunity to assist family and criminal duty counsel and to meet all the circuit court staff. The work was challenging and engaging with many interesting issues coming through the door. There are only two lawyers who live on Haida Gwaii full time, so we were always busy! 

The opportunities for outdoor adventures are also endless. I filled my time with beach running, biking, SUPing, hiking and fishing. There are always community events going on and you can always find someone who wants to hang out on the beach. I loved my time on Haida Gwaii and I cannot wait until I find my way back there. 


Justin Wiebe | Fort St John

This summer I had the opportunity to experience the intricacies of working at a small law firm in northern British Columbia. At Callison Zeunert Law Corporation in Fort St. John, I had the chance to gain exposure to a wide range of practice areas, including criminal, real estate, civil litigation, and business law. Given my passion for public interest advocacy, I was delighted to work with the family and poverty law advocates at the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society. I am grateful that the firm allowed me to tailor much of my time according to my interest areas.

In addition to my legal training, I was also invited to fun events such as wine tastings, movie screenings, concerts, and hikes. These experiences allowed me to gain an appreciation for the friendly and welcoming nature of the Peace River region.

Based on my experience this summer, I would highly recommend looking into the REAL Initiative due to the “hands-on” legal experience I received in a supportive context.