Kim Kobayashi’s career is an example of the incredible heights that a legal career can take if you actively pursue opportunities for new experiences. Kim has worked as a legal researcher, an associate in a general practice firm, a tax manager of an international accounting firm, and as legal and general counsel in the Department of Justice, Aboriginal Affairs for federal treaty negotiations, specific claims and litigation management. Currently, Kim works as the Legal Counsel and Director of Legal Services at A&W Food Services of Canada where she enjoys the variety of work that requires deep thought, being creative, working with business people, and looking at practical, real-world issues while also taking into account the legal risks and considerations. As you can imagine, Kim is never bored and enjoys the challenge of working in an interdisciplinary legal area where she can use her broad experiences to inform creative-decision making for new and exciting issues. Her favourite part about working as the sole in-house counsel is, “the opportunity to combine both the business and variety of legal practice areas, as well as working with outstanding people in the organization, which makes it all really enjoyable”.
Kim graduated from the University of Calgary Faculty of Law in 1983, and was an active member of her class. While in school, Kim volunteered with Student Legal Assistance, performed in the Law Show, and also learned how to play hockey while playing for the women’s hockey team -which is a sport she still enjoys today. Apart from her extra-curricular activities however, the most memorable part of her law school experience was the extraordinary camaraderie of her graduating class. “It was way more than just going to school to study, the class of ’83 was incredibly close and helped each other out.” This camaraderie continues to exist today for the class of ’83, who still have regular events together and remain very close.
When Kim started her career in law, she articled with a small firm in Kamloops where she gained a broad range of practice experience. A significant difference that Kim has noticed between the practice of law now and the practice of law when she started her career is the advance of technology and the pace of work-flow, “it moved in terms of days and weeks, rather than minutes or hours.” As 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the Faculty of Law, one of Kim’s projected guesses for the next forty years is that, “I think there is going to have to be a greater reliance on technology to become more efficient and more adaptive to the changing legal environment.”
With her experienced perspective and successful career, Kim’s advice for law students and new legal practitioners is not to sell yourself short in terms of skills or abilities. By recognizing the skills, abilities and experiences that a person gains over the course of their career as being transferable, legal professionals can create opportunities for themselves that they may never have anticipated. Although she never predicted where she would end up in law school, she credits her education at the University of Calgary and broad work experience with helping her to have a rewarding and exciting career in law.