Alumni in the Field

Carrie Ricker
STU Degree: BA ‘97
Major: Political Science
Job Title: Partner at Carpenters Ricker
Location: Halifax, NS

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
The duties and responsibilities of a lawyer are varied, though the primary duties and responsibilities relate to protecting and advancing your clients' legal interests. This can involve activities such as advocating for your clients before courts and tribunals, negotiating contracts or ensuring your client's house sale closes. Lawyers also have duties and responsibilities to their profession, the courts and the public to act in a professional manner that respects the integrity of our legal systems. As a partner in a law firm, I also have duties and responsibilities as a small business owner, including hiring staff, doing payroll, managing technology and working on marketing and business development.
 
How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
The practice of law is a very broad field so many different kinds of activities can help prepare students for a career in law. Taking classes in areas such as political science, human rights, and criminology are great preparation, but knowledge of languages, philosophy, psychology and sociology also play into an understanding of our legal systems. Moot court programs, debating and public speaking can also help develop valuable skills for practicing law. Some of the most valuable preparation I had, however, came from extra-curricular activities that involved team work. Whether it is sports, house committees or the student union, activities which involve working with others to address issues or achieve a common goal is a great way to develop skills that will help you as a lawyer. Internships and applied courses which provide the opportunity to work in a business environment or provide entrepreneurial experience are also valuable skills for the practice of law.
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
STU and my liberal arts education have helped me tremendously in my career. Throughout my time at STU, I was exposed to a wide variety of ideas and perspectives. My education helped me to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to see issues from different perspectives which have been fundamental to my success as a lawyer. Being challenged by professors and classmates helped me to develop my persuasive writing and advocacy skills. The ability to interact and work collaboratively with others helps me daily to provide high quality client service. My STU education strongly informed my views on social justice issues and has led to my involvement in access to justice issues as part of my legal career.

Clarence Bennett
STU Degree: BA '01
Major: English
Job Title: Partner at Stewart McKelvey
Location: Fredericton

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I practice management-side labour and employment law. I work with the owners and managers of many of Atlantic Canada’s leading corporate and institutional employers, both large and small in the private and public sectors, to fully understand their businesses and the challenges they face. I work with them in developing strategies to avoid human resource issues while fully asserting their right to manage the workplace effectively and efficiently. We manage all aspects of labour and employment law, some of which include collective bargaining, collective agreement administration, labour arbitrations, labour board proceedings, wrongful dismissal litigation, occupational health and safety issues and prosecutions, human rights concerns, pay equity, and workers compensation. My clients include employer’s in the retail trade, the service sector, healthcare, post-secondary education, all of the traditional resource based industries, as well as emerging areas such as oil and gas and information technology.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Do an undergraduate degree you enjoy and meet as many people as you can. My law school class had everything from mathematicians to musicians. Students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. Spend your time at STU reading and learning about whatever interests you. Given the confidentiality issues inherent in the practice of law, it’s difficult to get practical experience—I participated in the Pre-Law Society when I was at STU which really helped when preparing for the LSAT and understanding the opportunities for lawyers. Volunteering in the community will get you introduced to lawyers and business people which will be an asset later, whether you choose to practice law or another career.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
STU helped me in a number of ways, but most importantly it made me a more rounded individual. When I was at STU, I was involved in everything—Harrington House Committee, Senate, Student Union, etc.—which gave me increased confidence and better people and problem-solving skills. The relationships built at STU have also been invaluable. It’s amazing where your classmates will end up.

Michael Connors
STU Degree: BA ’98
Major: Political Science
Job Title: Partner at McInnes Cooper
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
As a partner of the law firm McInnes Cooper, I’m directly responsible for servicing client needs, recruiting and mentoring young lawyers, and developing new business for the firm.  My daily schedule involves several client meetings, negotiating and documenting business transactions, and assisting in firm activities.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I would encourage students to take courses that encourage or develop critical thinking, analytical problem solving and writing skills. Political Science, History, Economics and Philosophy were fields of study which greatly impacted my career development. The ability to develop and maintain positive relationships has also been a key to my success.  Being involved in strong networks, whatever they may be, will assist in adjusting to the demands of developing a strong client base and positive relations with fellow lawyers. The practice of law requires tremendous discipline, service and commitment to the public.  Activities (whether working or volunteering) that develop these attributes will be hugely beneficial.   

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Structured, clear and concise writing has been critical to my success.  If you’re unable to communicate effectively you will be severely limited in advocating successfully for your clients and yourself.  I can’t stress enough the importance of that skill. My liberal arts education provided me with the foundation to be an effective writer and communicator. 

Steven Hinkley
STU Degree: BA ‘97
Major: Psychology
Job Title: Chief Crown Prosecutor, Grande Prairie Crown Prosecutors’ Office
Location: Grande Prairie, Alberta

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I’m the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Grande Prairie Crown Prosecutors’ office, covering a large geographical area including multiple communities and a net population of over 140,000 people. I have undertaken several exceptional duties during my tenure, including but not limited to training and designation as an Agent of the Attorney General for making Part VI applications, attending by invitation in Ontario to conduct the prosecution of a Crown Attorney in that jurisdiction, and conducting the prosecution of a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a result of an ASIRT investigation. I also act as Executive Director and Chief Crown for all Regional Prosecutors (100 + prosecutors) when required. My office consists of a blend of junior and senior counsel, and I serve as mentor and supervisor to all counsel in the office. I undertake numerous prosecutions personally, including several serious ones before a Judge and Jury, and give advice to my prosecutors on an ongoing basis. I couple these duties with the day to day running of the office, Human Resources issues, working with partner groups to foster relationships, and serving on numerous committees. I draft opinions regarding whether RCMP officers in differing jurisdictions should be charged following allegations made by members of the public. In an attempt to improve the services of the RCMP in the region, I create and offer training to the local RCMP on an ongoing basis. I’m an instructor at the Alberta Justice Crown School, and assist in training the junior prosecutors in Alberta when the school is in session. I have also undertaken a rotation as principal for an articled clerk at Alberta Justice.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Students should have a real interest in the law and serving their community, volunteer work related to criminal justice, course work in law, evidence, and the evolution of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
STU gave me an underpinning that assisted greatly with my law degree. My foundation in psychology assists daily in my work duties.