Nilofar Ahmadi

Hometown: Markham city

What do you enjoy most about practicing law?

I mainly enjoy litigation and working with disadvantaged groups. I have experienced being a minority in Canada and the obstacles of overcoming the stereotypes in different aspects of my life. I feel empowered with the legal tools that I now have to help others in worst situations then I was many years ago.

 

What is an interesting matter that have you worked on, which also left you feeling a strong sense of pride?

I think all my refugee cases gives me a sense of pride because once they are successful, they change a person entire life. Refugee cases are literally a matter of life and death, and to have a successful case means that you help save someone’s life, I think that is quite a big deal.

What is one area in your professional life that you were struggling with and conquered?

I do and have always struggled with public speaking. In my first month of practicing law, I had to appear before the Federal Court before a justice that I admire. I over-prepared myself for the case and even made hypothetical questions, in case the judge asked me potential questions. However, it was in the courtroom that I realized that I was the person who knew my client’s case most, and it was me that had to provide direction to the court as to what elements applied to my client’s case and what did not. I realized that I was a “friend to the court”. That is when I became more confident about what I was going to present to the court and less hesitant about my role in the case and at the court hearing.

Later when I stepped out of the courtroom, I remember there were some colleagues, who had many more years of experience than me, but had never appeared before the Federal Court. These were colleagues who I looked up to, who asked me how I had prepared for the case and how they could use some pointers from me.

I realized then that when you are struggling with a certain issue, it is always good to face it and look at the positive elements of it rather than the negatives, which causes most nervous break downs.

What is your favorite strategy to maintain and improve your mental health and wellness?

I have had my moments in life where I have felt defeated, both professionally and personally. However, I think there comes a moment and time where you feel that you have punished yourself enough with the mental torture and can dust off all the negativity and tell yourself that you can try to make things better.

For my professional screw ups, I always try to seek help from my mentors and conduct legal research that applies to the issue to make sure I can fix the issue that I may be facing. Once I have exhausted all avenues, I know that I tried my best and can mentally be okay with it.

 

It is said, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, what is one piece of advice you wish you could have given yourself when you first started out in the law?

One piece of advice I would have liked to give myself, would have been to talk to legal professionals and ask them about their experience. I have realized that even people who I idolize have had very basic issues that they thought would end their career.

I attended the Annual Immigration Summit this year and there were two female lawyers, that I absolutely admire, and they shared with us the pitfalls of their experiences as legal professionals. I realized then that pitfalls exist with everyone, and no one is an exception, hence, you have to think of yourself as a person who will make mistakes, but just ensure that you learn from them.

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