Written by: Palak Mahajan, L.L.M. Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, Winter’22, licensing candidate and volunteer with NCA Network.
Edited by: Khayal Mammadov, GPLLM’22 Candidate, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, licensing candidate and volunteer with NCA Network
It is not the destination but the journey that matters. It was during the unfortunate second wave of the pandemic in India back in 2021 that I finally decided to start my licensing journey in Canada. Back then, I did not realize that this process would engulf every aspect of my life.
No, I am not here to discourage anyone from taking up this path. In fact, I intend to do quite the opposite. While it is indeed a roller coaster ride, I must admit; it is also the most rewarding experience. While you go through the stages, you will unearth the patience and perseverance you did not even know you embodied. Some days can be low and even demotivating. However, most days come with small wins that are uplifting and reassuring.
What makes this journey even more enriching is the support system that comes along with it. It comes from the most unexpected sources: an NCA study WhatsApp group, Facebook group, LinkedIn or your classmates (if you decided to start your licensing through the higher education pathway, like me). All you need to do is to reach out to available resources actively.
These ‘acquaintances’, ‘fellow licensing candidates’, ‘classmates’, or any other term best suited to them will be your friends, tutors, cheerleaders and family. They will relate to your journey more than anyone else. They will push you, support you, guide you and be there for you.
I am aware that not everyone who has been on this journey will agree when I contend or preach about how supportive this endeavor can be. I do not even want to take up the task of changing their minds. All I want to do is spread the word about how wholesome it tends to be. All you must do is let yourself be open to accepting the help, support, and guidance, and, of course, appreciate every bit of it.
No journey is long with good company. For me, while the licensing path appears to be a long one, it does not feel long. I am still in this process; I struggle on days when my study permit gets delayed or hampered by circumstances out of my control. I still get overwhelmed when I look at my course deadline or the NCA study material. I still worry about how drastically life will change when I leave my family and friends and move to Canada. I still wonder if all this is worth it. In these times, unswervingly, my friends on this journey come to my aid. They remind me of a crucial fact: I am not in this alone. Being reminded of this makes you want to get up, pat your back and carry on. I know this sounds emotional, yet reassuring too, right?
To top the already herculean licensing process, we are always advised by people who have been on this journey to ‘network’. Believe me, they are right. I have lived in different cities in India throughout my life. I easily made friends back home. I, fortunately, had a prolific legal tenure in India. Never was ‘networking’ laid emphasis upon. So naturally, I wondered why ‘networking’ was given so much importance in Canada. To feed this curiosity, I decided to activate my half-hearted LinkedIn profile. Overnight, I added lawyers from India and Canada to ‘network’. I did not want to seem desperate or stalkerish, and so I never managed to gather the strength to message my new connections. I thought to myself, “how will I ever ‘network’, sitting miles away from Canada?”. Exactly around that time, Osgoode’s Internationally Trained Lawyers Day happened. During that event, I luckily enough joined the zoom call where Kim Gale talked about the NCA Network and its events. I immediately realized I had to become a member of the NCA Network.
A few days later, the NCA Network conducted a virtual ‘coffee chat’. Even though it was scheduled at around 2 AM India time, I got some coffee and attended it. I am so glad I did. Even at 2 am, I was fully engaged for the one hour of the chat. My curiosity about feeble things was addressed with utmost patience. I realized how wholesome networking could also be. I then followed the NCA Network and other networking associations religiously and attended every virtual event I could. Each event was a value addition that could not be tangibly measured.
I continued making friends through NCA channels, my classmates at Osgoode and the NCA Network. Somehow, what seemed like a tedious process, became better, happier, kinder and more fulfilling. Without even realizing it, things felt like they were falling in place, and now on most days, the journey feels fun and exciting. Look at me: from attending a coffee chat by NCA Network almost a year back to writing this blog post for NCA Network, I have come a long way, haven’t I? The journey so far has been undoubtedly gratifying.
I acknowledge that there will be many who will doubt our choices. They will wonder why we want to leave the comfort of our homes and take the plunge. They might warn us about the licensing process being difficult. Questions and warnings might be endless, and I intend to embrace them fully.
Having said all that, hear me out when I say this – let’s treat this choice as different and not difficult. Let’s also not forget what Albus Dumbledore said- “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. I am choosing to see the light at the end of what feels like the licensing tunnel and I would urge all of the people on this path to do the same. I hope to continue giving and getting support along the way.
If you’d like to say hello, connect with me:
If you’d like to say hello to Khayal: