Pro Bono Students Canada

Terrah Smith – Former Coordinator

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Originally published on November 13, 2013

Terrah Smith, 2012-2013 Family Law Project Coordinator for PBSC Western.

Terrah Smith, 2012-2013 Family Law Project Coordinator for PBSC Western.

When she arrived at Western Law as a first-year student, Terrah Smith thought she would end up working in intellectual property law.  But she took a chance and got involved with the Family Law Project (FLP) at PBSC, where her warm and outgoing personality caused her to excel.

Starting out, Terrah didn’t have any experience working in a professional legal setting.  She did, however, have a talent for connecting with people and building relationships. When PBSC Program Manager Krystyna Drywa visited the Family Courts during Terrah’s tenure with the FLP, she noticed that “it was clear that [Terrah] had invested in connecting with everybody. She knew everyone at the court.”

In addition to her strong people skills, it’s obvious that Terrah has the compassion necessary for family law practice. Aaron Franks, a partner with Epstein Cole who provides specialized training in substantive family law to our FLP volunteers, notes that “the practice of family law requires the desire to want to help people.” Terrah demonstrated precisely this quality over the course of her time with the FLP, saying: “Often, the people you are dealing with feel hurt, overwhelmed, and betrayed. Your job is to see them through this difficult time and prepare them for the next stage of their lives.”  Although she admits the impact that family law has on people’s lives can sometimes make it an overwhelming field to work in, Terrah consistently succeeded in her placement.

Terrah adapted to professional legal work quickly, interviewing clients and drafting the documents used by the Family Court to assess her clients’ cases.  She reports feeling comfortable in her work after only two or three shifts with the support of her mentors.  When PBSC National Director Nikki Gershbain met Terrah at annual training conferences, she found her to be full of charisma.  According to Gershbain, the fact that PBSC hired Terrah as a coordinator right out of her first year attests to “how outstanding she was”.

Through interacting with clients, drafting court documents and gaining feedback directly from the bench, Terrah’s time with the FLP provided practical experience that no classroom could, and gave her the training, connections, and confidence she needed. “I absolutely recommend this program. I found I got the hang of it quickly because there was a strong support system.” Terrah also notes that supervising lawyers are always available to help, and upper-year students also help to mentor FLP volunteers.

After three successful years with PBSC, Terrah is now articling for two London firms, including the Family Law Group and MacDonald Evendon. Drywa describes her as “really exuberant, passionate and very committed to family law.”  And Terrah “could not be more excited!”