Pilon School of Business
Degree: Office Administration – Legal
Year of graduation: 2004
Although life circumstances led legal administration grad Julie Chan to her current career practising in family law, she couldn’t imagine taking a different path. “If you are put in a career path or an industry that you find that you are very interested in, you owe it to yourself to take that leap of faith,” she says.
Over the last decade, Chan has taken several such leaps, driven by a fierce work ethic and sense of dedication. When a family issue meant she needed to change plans during her first foray into post-secondary education at university, Chan enrolled in Sheridan for office administration courses, specializing in legal administration in her second year. By the time she graduated in 2004, winning two awards for academic achievement, Chan was holding down three jobs: working as a legal assistant at a law firm in Brampton, as well as at a family law sole practitioner in Oakville, and she was also tutoring high school students. “I was determined to finish school without any debt,” she says.
While at Sheridan, Chan was encouraged by office administration legal professor Christine Gigler to continue her education. “I don’t think I would have been a lawyer if I didn’t go to Sheridan,” she says. “Chris was very keen on getting people into jobs that would expose them to the field, and because I actually got that exposure, it interested me and I wanted to take that next step and take my position to the next level.”
For Chan, her next steps led her to an Honours Bachelor of Science in psychology and sociology at the University of Toronto, then halfway around the world to a doctorate of law at Bond University in Australia. When she returned to Canada in 2012, she began practising exclusively in family law at a firm in the Peel Region.
Now, Chan puts all of her drive into her role at Stanchieri Family Law, a boutique firm on Bay Street, which she joined in August 2016. “I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. It’s not just paper pushing,” she says. “I’m affecting these people who are going through a very difficult time in their lives. I feel like I am making some sort of contribution on a personal level, even if it’s not on a global scale, it’s on a personal scale.”
Although Chan says that she fell into her chosen career, each step and choice she has made over the past decade contributes to her current success. “Everything’s kind of interrelated: even my psychology major in my undergrad, which originally made me consider being a family therapist. But in being a family law lawyer, I get to use those skills a little to help people deal with their emotions almost every day,” she says. “My career path was non-traditional and it was a very, very long journey, but I think everything happens for a reason.”