Danielle Rawlinson

Education: JD, University of Ottawa; Honours Double Major in Law and Society and Latin American and Caribbean Studies, York University

Profession: First Year Associate Lawyer at Monkhouse Law.

Years of Experience:1

As a child, did you envision becoming what you are now?

When I was a child, I wanted to become a lawyer. I’ve always wanted to help those who were in need and wanted to do what was just and right in my mind. My nature has always been diplomatic and I always sought to solve problems. There was never any other career I saw myself pursuing. I’m glad it worked out.

Tell us about your journey. When did you realize you had arrived (or were successful)?

I don’t think I will ever necessarily arrive. I’m a life long student and believe thatlife is a journey, where you complete one goal and then move on to the next one. After I graduated university, I put my aspirations of becoming a lawyer on hold. As a first generation graduate, I didn’t have the guidance and mentorship I needed. My parents supported me immensely; however, they did not know the Canadian school system. After working for a bank for 5 years post-grad, I had a conversation with one of my best friends, who was in law school at the time. She asked me, “why are you not in law school?” I had no answer. That was my epiphany moment and my catalyst to apply to law school and embark on what was one of the most enlightening and soul searching seasons of my life. I took a leap of faith and put in my blood, sweat, and tears to fulfill this lifelong dream. My success is in being able to fight all of my fears, never taking no for an answer and reaching for the stars. Each stage of my journey has been a success.

 What obstacles, if any, did you face (or are currently facing)?

 I didn’t get into law school on the first try. It’s humbling to say that now. Each obstacle I faced built my character and perseverance. I intended and was accepted to attend law school in the UK. But God had other plans for me. After not being able to attend law school in the UK, for various reasons, I decided not to give up and applied to law school in Canada. Despite some failures and let downs, I was eventually accepted on my second application. I chose to push forward and not let failure define me. I knew what was in my heart and believed God had placed my yearning to become a lawyer there. Law school itself had many ups and downs, but ultimately in the end I landed my dream job! The only obstacles I face now are those I put in my own way. I won’t let my race, sex or age define my potential. I don’t look at things as obstacles anymore, only hurdles I will clear.

What skills are required to succeed in your profession?

In the legal profession you need to have great communication, analytical, interpersonal and negotiation skills. All of these skills are transferable. If you have ever worked in customer service, you have a great foundation already. I think being levelheaded is also a skill you need as a lawyer. At the end of the day you need to remain composed in order to provide the best results for your clients.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to be where you are now?

The best advice I would give to anyone who aspires to be a lawyer is to find a mentor and a champion. You may not see yourself in a certain career, especially as a young Black person, if you don’t see someone like you there. As the past national president of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada (“BLSA”), I highly recommend reaching out to BLSA as your first point of contact. BLSA seeks to create a space for Black law students to network and gain meaningful mentorship opportunities, as well as actively promote diversity and inclusion within Canadian law schools and the legal profession. High school, undergraduate, and mature students can connect with BLSA to mentor, guide and assist them in their journey to getting into and attending law school and beyond. A supportive community and strong network will always be my number one piece of advice. We must always lift as we climb and carve out spaces