From student to professor in five years.
Meet Aram Simovonian. He works full-time as a lawyer with a civil litigation firm. He is also a part-time professor with the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies program at the Lakeshore Campus, and helps to coach the paralegal debate team, also called mooting.
I sat down with Aram to get a better sense his journey from a paralegal student to professor.
Before Humber College, he was undecided about his career path. “I knew I didn’t want to go to university, I wanted to go to college because it is more hands-on. I wanted to do something with the law because I enjoyed law class in grade 12,” he said. For Aram, Humber seemed like a good fit. With a unique four-year Bachelor of Paralegal Studies degree program, which isn’t offered anywhere else in Canada, he knew he made the right decision.
He made a point of getting involved while at Humber. “One of the biggest things that stuck out to me in the program was the mooting. I was in third-year when I started mooting,” he said. From there, he quickly found his passion for speaking and advocating. “It was an invaluable resource,” he shared.
It wasn’t until Aram entered his fourth year, that he started considering a serious career in the legal field. “I spoke to Bernie Aron [Program Coordinator] about going to law school and he just suggested the University of Birmingham in the UK. It was a phenomenal school. I had a very, very good time there. It was quite challenging.” he said.
Once he was finished his law degree, he decided to return to Canada. For foreign-trained lawyers to be licensed to practice law in Canada, they must complete equivalency testing or take the Masters of Law program at Osgoode Hall Law School. When deciding which option was best for him, Aram told me it was a no-brainer. “One of the requirements to actually teach at Humber is that you have to hold a master’s degree. I thought I can finish all of my schooling that I could possibly need for the next say 20 or 30 years and I get a master’s in the process,” he said.
After law school comes 10 months of articling. “It’s very challenging. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience. You are working a ridiculous amount of hours. I’m talking about up to 90 hours a week. I remember working my longest day was from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. See, they don’t tell you that stuff when you’re studying,” he said with a chuckle.
Once his position ended, he decided to leave his articling firm to pursue a career in civil litigation, but not before stopping to write the barristers and solicitors examinations (a.k.a. the bar exam).
Shortly after completing his exams, Aram began teaching part-time at Humber. Along with teaching, Aram was busy searching for full-time civil litigation work. He criticized the competitiveness of the job market. “It was very tough. You send out thousands of resumes and get one call back. It’s frustrating because you kind of have a red dot on your head. People will often ask, ‘why didn’t you go to school here?’ It’s very disappointing. I went to Osgoode and I went to Birmingham. They are both phenomenal schools. It shouldn’t matter where I got my law degree,” he said.
Eventually, after much searching, he was able to find the right fit. “Thankfully, right now, I’m working at a civil litigation firm. It’s great. You get treated with respect, you have autonomy to work on files on your own. Both of my managing principles are there for me. They encourage me and help me to grow,” he said.
I asked him how he’s able to find a balance between his responsibilities as a lawyer, and professor, and finding time to socialize. “What social life?” he said with a chuckle.
After years of practice, it seems he has mastered the work-life balance. “It means literally taking, whether it’s a day, or even an hour, to disengage from everything, to do what you love to do. Just focus on that and nothing else. Disconnect. Put the phone down and live.” he explained.
When speaking to students thinking about attending law school, Aram offers this advice: “If you want to go to law school, be prepared for the many years of difficulty that’s associated with it. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So if you’re going, be prepared for at least 3 years of tough schooling. Tough articling, tough barrister, and solicitor exams; then probably a tough time finding a job. But it’s also very rewarding, seeing the end result of your hard work and dedication. I enjoy it and I always try to push myself professionally a little bit further every chance I get.”
Aram attended Humber between 2009-2013.
Enjoyed this article? Check out our last Student Spotlight, featuring Antonia Butler!