It's back! While I wait for some firms to finish their answers for my Equality, Diversity and Inclusion series, I've decided to re-start the Women Leading in Law series that has been on a bit of a hiatus. So check back here often as both the EDI series and the WLL series (along with my own personal musings on law) will pop up from time to time.
For this profile I am featuring Kim Gale, who is no stranger to social media, networking, and building a brand for herself. If I could go back in time to my younger lawyer days I would tell myself, "Be more like Kim". She gets it. Like many of you, I first "met" Kim on LinkedIn (I believe she was promoting her blog, Law for Millennials) and then at a legal networking event. I have since had the pleasure of having coffee with Kim and learning more about her estate litigation law firm, Gale Law.
1. Tell me a little about your practice or business.
I practice estate litigation at my own firm, Gale Law. My law firm is representative of my values: legal advice that is straightforward, solutions that are cost-effective and a free consultation where clients can have the comfort to ask questions before paying out of pocket. My clients' issues are deeply personal and I find being compassionate and available is extremely important as an estate litigator. I handle matters relating to estate disputes, some examples include misappropriation of estate funds, passing of a common law spouse, and attorney for property and personal care issues.
2. Why did you go to law school?
I decided to go to law school in the UK because I wanted to study in a place where I could travel, and experience new things. I thought I would leave Toronto behind and move to London, England permanently. I always wanted to be a lawyer and I thought if I didn’t give it a shot it would be something I would regret. I felt the same way about starting my own firm - it was something I always wanted to do. I guess I figure the worst thing is living life feeling stuck and not reaching your full potential. Life is too short to not follow your dreams.
3. How did you get to where you are today? Design? Chance? Both?
In life there is always a bit of luck! As my mom says, “chance favours the prepared mind” (and according to Google she quoted this from Louis Pasteur). My mom, Reeva Finkel, is a top litigator and senior partner at Blaney McMurtry and I’d like to think I’m following in her footsteps as a female litigator. Having her as a role model has deeply inspired me to believe that hard work and preparation are the keys to success. I still call her (many times) for questions and support. I feel lucky to have her as my strong female role model, in addition to many others, and I got to where I am through leaning on others for support and rolling up my sleeves and working hard. I’m also pretty passionate about what I do – I think it helps to like what you do and want to help others!
4. What is your most significant achievement? What are you proud of?
I am proud of the group I co-founded, NCA Network , and the team we put together, in addition to my blog, Law for Millennials and of course, my own firm.
NCA Network is a networking group for lawyers and students who went to law school outside of Canada. We are making waves to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal community. NCA stands for the National Committee on Accreditation exams which are the exams you must write to qualify a non-Canadian degree to Canadian standards. I wrote 7 NCA exams while working as a paralegal full-time in the UK and I found the NCA process lonely and difficult. I navigated the NCA process on my own and through this difficult time, I gained knowledge and insight that I wanted to pass along to other students so that they don’t have to go through the same struggle I went through. We hosted our first event at the TLA on March 21 and attendees received 40 minutes of EDI CPD hours. We had the Honourable Justice Thorburn speaking in addition to Isfahan Merali and Atrisha Lewis, and I acted as the moderator. The topic was on diversity and inclusion. Our event was a success with almost 100 attendees! We are excited to make this an annual event and continue to work with the Toronto Lawyers Association and our sponsors.
Law for Millennials is more fun – easy to understand legal information focused on issues millennials face! Free, not complicated and not dull. So far all of my co-authors are female lawyers and law students, many from the NCA process, and I love using this platform to promote female lawyers.
5. What are some key challenges, and more importantly, opportunities for women in law?
I am blown away about how supportive the legal community, specifically, the support from females, I have received. We understand the challenges of being a female in a (still) male dominated profession. We refer work to each other, invite each other to networking events and try to help each other. I appreciate the support immensely and I try to pay it forward. Through this support, we create grassroots to promote females in the legal profession. Just being given the opportunity to write this blog post is an example of female support - Erin thank you so much for this opportunity, you are a true pioneer and inspiration (and great example of females supporting females).
6. What advice would you give a woman starting her legal career?
I like to give advice which reflects on my own experience. When I was working as a paralegal in the UK, I was very out of my element and I thought the only way to fit in was to be someone else. Fitting into the British culture became very important to me. Looking back, I think I would have been much happier if I just stayed true to myself. My advice is to just be yourself. The reality is you’ll be a better advocate and provide a higher service to your clients if you are genuine. It is too much effort to be someone else. People prefer to work with real people anyway. None of us are robots. We have our own personality – why not show yours off!
Thank you Kim for sharing your journey with us. Best of luck with your new firm.
ICYMI: Previous posts profiled Alexi Wood, Melissa McBain, Erin Best, Gillian Hnatiw, Melanie Sharman Rowand, Meg Chinelo Egbunonu, Lisa Jean Helps, Nathalie Godbout Q.C., Laurie Livingstone, Renatta Austin, Janis Criger, May Cheng, Nicole Chrolavicius, Charlene Theodore, Dyanoosh Youssefi, Shannon Salter, Bindu Cudjoe, Elliot Spears, Jessica Prince, Anu K. Sandhu, Claire Hatcher, Esi Codjoe, Kate Dewhirst, Jennifer Taylor, Rebecca Durcan, Atrisha Lewis, Vandana Sood, Kathryn Manning, Kim Hawkins, Kyla Lee, and Eva Chan. Sign up to have these profiles sent directly to your email address and stay tuned for the next post soon!
I started this blog series because I was tired of hearing about women leaving law and wanted to hear about women leading in law. The "Women Leading in Law" series focuses on good news stories and highlights amazing women succeeding in the legal profession. Each post includes the profiled lawyer's answers to six questions. Prepare to be inspired!
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance litigator, researcher & writer at Cowling Legal Freelance and President and Founder of Flex Legal Network Inc., a network of freelance lawyers.