From Law to Public Policy
Adam Chambers has had a wide range of professional experiences. From public policy, to starting a business, to practicing law, and to working at a major insurance company, his professional journey has taken a lot of turns. We sat down with Adam and got all these details and more.
The Road to Law School
Adam Chambers always thought of law as being at the intersection of business and public policy, both of which he was very interested in. This led him to want to explore law school and all the possible opportunities it could bring him.
“As a general rule, I think you’re never harmed by increasing your education. It opens up lots of doors for you.”
After his first year of law at Western University, Adam was lucky enough to get an opportunity to take a leave of absence from school and work for two years in public policy for the Minister of Finance. This came about after Adam attended a political event and met the minister before he held that title. Later, a professor of his informed Adam of the internship opportunity. Working in public policy showed him that you can do a lot with a legal education. He was always determined to finish law school, and his boss was very encouraging as well.
“I’ve benefited from having a couple people in my corner pulling for me, taking an interest in my career development.”
When he returned to Western, they had opened up a joint MBA and JD program, and Adam was able to join. Since he had an undergrad in business, he was familiar and interested in the content. He thought this would be a perfect opportunity to combine all the subjects he was interested in.
In his last year of law school, while studying for the bar, Adam realized that there were no practice questions available online so he decided to create an online testing tool with his friends. They created the content, and partnered with a third party to run the online platform. Together they created a site to help law students study for the bar. “Ontario Law Exam” was the first of its kind. It is still running today and widely used by law students.
Adam Chambers was never under the impression that he would practice law forever. Even before law school, he envisioned something eventually pulling him away from it. However, he did not think that an opportunity would arise after only two years of practice.
Adam articled and practiced at Goodmans for two years. He was very happy with his experience there because it was a full-service firm and gave him the opportunity to explore many areas of business law. His departure was a result of yet another opportunity to work for the Minister of Finance, this time as the Director of Policy. He felt very lucky to get that opportunity especially because he considered the Minister of Finance to be a mentor of his.
“You should always be open to opportunities to meet other people and learn from folks who are 5, 10, 25 years ahead of you. Their insights are always very helpful.”
Taking on a New Role
Since the Director of Policy role in Ottawa was only temporary, Adam soon returned to Toronto, where he considered going back to working at a firm. However, because he had so much experience in other roles, he decided to explore some of his options.
“Life is a choose your own adventure novel.”
Adam ended up landing the role of Director of Strategy at Great-West Life, a large financial services company. His role mainly involves corporate strategy, and it combines a little bit of all his interests. It involves business strategy, public policy, and legal and legislative issues. Adam has to evaluate all courses of action, predict what will impact the business in the best way, and advise the organization.
Adam recognizes a big difference in law firm structure and workflow when compared to other work environments. In political environments, everyone has different educational and work backgrounds and therefore different ways of doing things. Although the diversity is great for many reasons, it takes some getting used to when coming from corporate law.
Adam attributes a lot of his success to being “lucky”, however there were many challenges that he was prepared to handle because of his law background. A major thing that he emphasized was critical thinking, and being able to read and write effectively. Much of his job requires understanding complex issues and being able to condense and explain the main points in a concise manner (sound familiar?).
Adam’s advice to other lawyers is very simple; keep connected with others and be open to opportunities that may come.
“Young lawyers shouldn’t limit their opportunities. Any chance they have to meet others, they should take because there are a bunch of opportunities outside legal practice available to them.”
Adam would not be where he is if he did not pursue his interests and meet mentors that gave him opportunities to prove himself. He notes that many lawyers get stuck in their jobs and falsely believe there are no other opportunities available for them. Adam is proof that this is not true.