"Oh, the Places You'll Go" with a UCalgary Law Degree
As a former corporate commercial lawyer, legal recruiter, and now owner of his own business, Milton Kiang (LLB'93) is a prime example of the unexpected opportunities that a law degree can offer.
By Elysa Hogg
Milton Kiang, now 23 years out from his law graduation, has had his share of careers. After graduating from UCalgary Law, Milton returned to his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia to begin his articles in corporate commercial law. He found the work diverse: at a big firm Kiang did everything from securities to municipal to general corporate and litigation. Although he enjoyed the freedom, Kiang left in 1995 after completing his articles: "I wanted more mentorship and an opportunity to specialize in one area."
Seeking something different, Kiang tapped into his rich network and went east to Hong Kong. After passing the Hong Kong Bar exam, he practiced in corporate commercial and regulatory law for nearly a decade. Desiring a change, Kiang made another big leap: this time, into legal recruiting. He joined the largest legal recruitment firm in the world, Major, Lindsey & Africa. As a recruiter, Kiang tapped into a skill he didn't know he had. "I enjoyed the 'sales aspect' of legal recruiting: you were either selling your candidate's abilities and experience to an employer, or you were selling your own skills and experience as a recruiter, to get the client (the employer) to retain you."
After several years in legal recruitment, Kiang made another change. As a recruiter, Kiang was often helping lawyers re-write their resumes and found his strength in developing a client's story through their resume and cover letter. In 2008 he returned to Vancouver and founded Channel Resume, a professional resume writing service. Kiang sets himself apart from the competition by conducting one-on-one meetings with every client to tap into their interests and career goals. Not surprisingly, Kiang has wise advice for lawyers looking to transition into another career: "People have a difficult time editing their resume for each position they apply for, because they don't have the time or patience, so they tend to blast out the same resume regardless of the position they are applying for." He urges lawyers to focus on highlighting only the experiences that will either contribute to the position you're applying for, or demonstrate a propensity for that type of work.
Reflecting on his time at UCalgary Law, Kiang undoubtedly believes that his education prepared him for the unique career he has developed. Yet, he warns law students not to take it too seriously. "If I were to do it all over again, I'd take different courses. In law school, I didn't take courses in labour law, aboriginal law, and those are things that I'm interested in now." Most importantly, he encourages students to savour the time spent in school. "I don't know how well students are going to take this, but I suppose if I had to do law school again I'd try to enjoy the experience!"