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Upskilling and Continuing Education

Upskilling & Continuing Education: Q&A With Jules the Lawyer

julia romano
julia romano

Mediaplanet sat down with Jules the Lawyer, who shared her advice for aspiring professionals and students looking to further their education.

What sparked your interest in pursuing law?

My first memory of an interest in law is when my dad and I would watch Judge Judy together. We both liked her wit and sarcastic sense of humour. He would always say that I could have my own show like Judge Judy — called “Judge Julia”. When it came time to decide what university path to take, I always had that in the back of my mind. As all judges were once lawyers, in order to be “Judge Julia”, I needed to be a lawyer first.

As I advanced along my education path, I think what maintained my interest in pursuing law was the study of law itself. I studied philosophy for my undergraduate degree and one of my favourite classes was “law and morality.” When thinking of going to law school, I did not really turn my mind to what being a lawyer would look like as a career – I was more excited about the idea of being able to study law as a subject for three more years.

I also have to credit my parents for supporting me throughout my educational journey. I am really lucky that both my mom and dad were extremely supportive of my decision to pursue law. Without this support, I would have never been able to explore my interest in law, which ultimately led me to obtain my law degree and become a lawyer.

What steps did you take in deciding what university was right for you?

In deciding where to do my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, I compared the different classes, professors, and program offerings among different universities in Ontario. I chose my undergraduate university based on what classes I thought would be interesting, what professors I admired, and what program offerings I thought would be a good steppingstone for law school down the road.

In deciding where to do my law degree, I was quite set on the law school I ended up attending. This was due to a combination of many factors — including, school ranking, financial aid availability, job placement statistics, professors, and location.

What advice would you give to aspiring professionals and students wanting to further their education or advance in their careers?

The advice I always give to aspiring professionals is to talk to someone who currently works in your dream role or industry to get a better sense of two key things: (1) the path they took to end up in that role; and (2) what their role entails on the day-to-day.

For example, if your dream job is to be a criminal defense lawyer — find someone who is already in that role to get an idea of the educational path they took. Talking to people in similar roles to the role you want to eventually end up in will allow you to determine how you should further your education — whether it be law school, a particular undergrad or masters program, or even a PhD.

Additionally, I think it is extremely important to talk to someone in your dream role to glean what it is that they do on the day to day — and see if this is something that you want to do for your career. I always give this advice because a lot of students do not actually know what a lawyer does for work. For me, growing up, I had no lawyers in the family — nor did I know any lawyers personally. My idea of what a lawyer’s job entailed was shaped by how they were represented in the media or on TV shows — which is far from accurate. It was not until I got into law school that I truly understood what it was that a lawyer did. Luckily, I ended up liking the work — which is not the case for everyone. This does not just apply to aspiring lawyers but to all aspiring professionals in any industry. It is extremely important to get a sense of a certain profession prior to making a commitment to that career.

Tell us about your TikTok journey. What prompted you to create your TikTik account, Jules the Lawyer? How has the app impacted your life and career?

I started my TikTok account in the thick of the pandemic — initially as a creative outlet to distract myself from some personal struggles I was facing as well as what was going on in the world around me. As my account started to gain popularity, I started to create content around three main themes — (1) information about the law school admissions process; (2) what being a lawyer is actually like; and (3) becoming “famous”. Creating content on TikTok is really what got me through the lockdowns during the pandemic. It gave me something to look forward to doing every day, and the sense of community with my followers alleviated a lot of the loneliness I was feeling during this time.

When I started my TikTok account as a little COVID hobby, I could never have imagined that it would become what it is today. This app has completely changed my life — as well as the trajectory of my legal career. It has allowed me to explore a new passion of mine in content creation, as well as take on my dream legal role.

Since starting JulestheLawyer, I signed with Platform Media and have partnered with amazing brands like Estee Lauder, Sephora, Sport Chek, Dermalogica, and Staples to name a few.

With respect to my legal career, my TikTok account gave me the stability to leave my position as a tax lawyer at a big law firm in downtown Toronto and move to my current role at Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto where I am the project lawyer on the #AndMeToo project. In this role, I provide legal services to women, gender-diverse, and non-binary folx in precarious employment situations that have experienced harassment, sexual violence, and economic coercion in the workplace. I volunteered with the Clinic all throughout law school and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to return to the Clinic as the #AndMeToo project lawyer.

Since 1985, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic (“the Clinic”) has been providing legal representation, counselling, and interpretation services (in more than 170 languages) to women, gender-diverse, and non-binary folx who have survived gender-based violence. The Clinic was established in memory of Barbra Schlifer, a young lawyer whose life was cut short by sexual violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario on April 11, 1980.

The initiative I would like to promote is the Clinic’s #AndMeToo project. This initiative is one that was launched in response to the gap created by the #MeToo movement that shed light on workplace sexual harassment — but did not capture the experiences of precariously employed women with complex socio-economic needs.

Under the #AndMeToo project, the Clinic provides legal services to precariously employed women, gender-diverse, and non-binary folx who have survived sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. This project also conducts public education, outreach, and community development work on sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Under this project, Faith-Ann Mendes leads its public education and community outreach facet; Julia Romano provides legal representation and legal services; and Deepa Mattoo, Pamela Rice, and Julia Romano work together to conduct community development work.

The important work done under the #AndMeToo project is made possible by the project’s funders — Ed Clark, United Way of Greater Toronto, and Department of Justice Canada.

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