Journey as an Internationally Trained Lawyer

by: Anjali Chauhan

Exploring the new path!

There are countless people; I owe a debt of gratitude to, for everything in my life.

My name is Anjali Chauhan, an internationally qualified lawyer, and a Corporate Governance Professional from the Chartered Governance Institute of Canada.

I am presently working towards becoming a Licensed Lawyer in Ontario. For that, I am taking the NCA Exams to obtain a certificate of qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. By way of this article, I would like to share an insight into my professional journey that might benefit the readers and the people who are ready to take the risk to unlearn and relearn.

My journey in Canada so far!

I came to Canada in March 2019, and got started with the NCA process. My first survival job was at the same place where I landed, i.e. Toronto Pearson Airport. I worked part-time in a Customer Service role and met people of varied cultures and ethnicities during my shifts. In May 2019, I landed in a job as a Compliance Administrator for a Mortgage Investment Company. My multiple qualifications and work experience helped me conduct my duties towards administrative, financial, and regulatory compliance for the corporation. I got the initial exposure to working with a business corporation duly incorporated in Ontario. I kept both the jobs and worked seven days a week to learn as much as I could. Where one job helped me develop my technical skills, the other enhanced my people skills.

The regulatory authority for a MIC is the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) and the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). Some of my major duties included drafting of mortgage commitments, renewal letters, pay-out statements, conducting monthly bank reconciliations, calculation of quarterly dividend payable to investors, drafting correspondences to various authorities, filing of mandatory forms to FSRA.

Out of the multitude of work I did, the major accomplishment for me was providing support during the annual audit of the corporation. I prepared all the required data of mortgages, assisted the accountant for reconciliation of financial statements, and responded to all the queries of the auditor, which made the process very smooth instead of being stressful. Also, attending a seminar on Surviving a Compliance Audit: Role of the Senior Officer and Practical Tips conducted by the Chartered Governance Institute on May 16th, 2019 in Toronto prepared me in advance to achieve good performance.

To have an in-depth knowledge of Mortgage Investment Companies, I did a course on Exempt Market Proficiency from IFSE Institute, Mississauga, Ontario. It gave me a vast knowledge of how eligibility for investing in a MIC can be determined.

Well, that is not the end. I would like to give you a peek into my past experience as well.

Past international experience

In India, I started my career as a Company Secretary Intern. I learned and handled the Corporate Law division in a Corporate Consultancy Firm in India. Due to my exceptional performance during the internship, I was offered a permanent position as an Associate. During my tenure, I was responsible for handling all the compliance work including the incorporation of corporations, drafting articles and by laws, preparation of minutes, providing support in board and annual general meetings, correspondence with government and regulatory authorities. I also worked on multiple assignments including internal audits of financial institutions, income tax filings, mergers, corporate financing, and business process management with the team. I also took an extra effort to give orientation and help the new hires with their professional development and presentation skills. As my office was also the Chapter office of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, I had an opportunity to be a moderator and speaker at various events organized by our team.

After that in 2014, I got a role at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which is the regulatory authority for all the Business Corporations incorporated in India. This was a Federal Government job and now I was on the other side of my previous role. My first posting was at the Official Liquidator Office attached to the High Court of Delhi. In that role, I had a team of around ten under me and we worked towards the dissolution of companies that became insolvent as per the orders of the Court. I was the section head responsible to proofread all the applications, reports, correspondences that were to be filed before the Court. Apart from that, I would scrutinize the statement of assets and liabilities filed by the ex-management of the Corporations to continue the process of liquidation. I always kept my team motivated to meet all the deadlines. I had practical exposure to taking possession of assets on-site with a team of officials and security personnel, preparing minutes and inventory of assets seized, assessing the claims of the creditors, convening meetings with banks and other creditors to proceed with the insolvency proceedings. Apart from this, I used to prepare monthly and quarterly reports to be submitted to the head office from time to time. I also drafted the reports to be submitted in cases of mergers and acquisitions.

In 2016, a new Insolvency Law came in India where all the insolvency, mergers, dispute, and other corporate law matters were transferred under the jurisdiction of the National Company Law Tribunal. Keeping in view my performance, I was deputed at National Company Law Tribunal Bench to provide support in the initial setup of the Court. I still remember my first day. I travelled five hours to join my duties and when I reached there, I didn't even have a chair to sit or a computer to work on. As everything was to be set up from scratch, I had to work from another office on the second floor of the same building. This role has been the most difficult and most rewarding in my career. It made me an expert in proofreading, scrutinising petitions, data entry, purchasing, invoicing, outsourcing contracts, preparing payrolls, assisting in conducting interviews, confidential government correspondences, organizing events. I got an opportunity to work with the Judicial Member in the Tribunal.

Keeping in view my excellent performance, I was not reverted to my original office, retained, and deployed at the Registry department of the Tribunal on special request of the Judicial Member. I scrutinized all the petitions, applications, replies, rejoinders, reports filed by the lawyers for insolvency, mergers, acquisitions, oppression, mismanagement, conversion from public to private company and other laws applicable to corporations. I was also designated as the drawing and disbursing officer responsible to approve purchasing/invoicing for the Tribunal and prepared all the reports to be submitted to the head office from time to time.

Post-COVID experience

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 has put a break on my career for the time being, I have not stopped working towards upgrading my skills to achieve success and have a story that inspires and motivates others to achieve their dreams. I wrote all the NCA exams in the meanwhile and volunteered for various projects. I got a chance to work as the Team Lead for the Policy & By-Law Committee at Achev; Empowher, Peel Region where I worked with a team of six to draft template policies for small non-profit organizations. I also got an opportunity to be a part of the National Canadian Lawyers’ Initiative.

Currently I am volunteering as a Legal Assistant at a Law Firm and looking for a suitable opportunity to utilize and enhance my skills.

I cherish every aspect of my career experience so far. Everything I have learned has helped me add value to all the organizations I worked at. After this, there is no going backward, just moving forward!

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