When making decisions at school and for your career, "look at the bigger picture, always."
Tanya Walker is a Commercial Litigator and creator of Walker Law. She started her own firm eleven years ago, after working for two Bay Street firms in Toronto.
The interview was taped during the COVID19 pandemic, and you can find it here.
As a commercial litigator, Tanya Walker works with clients who are involved in financial disputes. She was inspired as a five-year-old by the character Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show, a working mom and lawyer. She admits she didn't know what a lawyer was or did, but she wanted to grow up to be just like her.
Tanya admits that her parents told her she would make a good lawyer because they thought she was good at arguing, and they told her she'd need drive, discipline, very good grades, and to be well-rounded if she was going to achieve this goal.
Her Jamaican parents introduced Tanya to new things at a very young age, such as tennis and ice skating. They wanted her to challenge herself to learn difficult skills. She taught herself to read sheet music from very young, and later at her strict Catholic school, she joined the school band and sports teams.
Tanya's father was influential with her career, as well, guiding her to take a business degree before law school, because he felt she had promising skills for business (and she knew she didn't like science -- fields her Mother and sister chose).
A typical week for Tanya:
- early mornings, sometimes starting work as early as 6am
- she usually works 7 days a week
- every week she needs a day or two "to work on the business"
- she also works with The Law Society, as a Bencher (working on policies and procedures for the Law Society); she was voted to this position for the second time since 2016
- she's an expert / legal analyst on television programs across the country
- she is very busy and needs to budget her time well.
Tanya's Tips for Students
- pick your courses based on your interests, and look at your strengths. Combining these will impact how successful you will be
- do activities inside and outside of school: "you can't just limit yourself to what you learn at school"
- in law, you need mentors for guidance in your early career. She feels she couldn't have gone straight to her own firm right out of school.
- relationships are very important: you need good relationships to be referred work and to be hired. This is fundamental. You need mentors and a solid client base to move ahead.
Skills to Develop:
- strong interpersonal skills
- be very driven
- you must have confidence in yourself, because you're going to hear "no" so many times in your career (but, there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance)
- you have to want to help people in a sincere way, or else you can come across as fake
- in law, communication skills are so important
- establish a strong support system in your personal and work life if you want to be successful. Trials, for example, can be very demanding, and you'll need support at home in order to have a balanced life.
- "look at the bigger picture, always," when making decisions for your life and career. For example, she chose not to hire a tutor in law school when she would have benefitted from extra support and resulted in more opportunities when her degree was finished.
If she wasn't a lawyer?
Tanya would love to be a fitness instructor. She loves running and being active, as well as being healthy physically and mentally, and helping others.