“I have very high hopes for my generation. As millennials, we are fortunate to have been born into a world where many of the legal battles re: discrimination, racism, sexism etc. have already been fought and won, and so treating people equally and caring about human rights is second nature to us. That said, we are also a generation that is keenly aware of the gap between formal equality and what happens in reality.”
Ana Mihajlović participated in the Allard Law History Project Student Survey in 2016. The Project intends to track Ms. Mihajlović's career and build upon this historical record in the future. Her responses as a student are below:
Why did you choose to do law?
Simply put: I wanted to help people and to make a difference. Lawyers and judges are in unique positions of power to dramatically change people’s lives, and the challenge and responsibility that comes with that power is what drew me to the legal profession.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
Quite honestly, I am enamoured with our Chief Justice BM and wouldn't mind being Chief Justice AM in the future. However, with law I have found that the process is more important than the outcome and so I hope that throughout my legal journey I will achieve mastery, success, and happiness in my career. I want to do work that I am proud of, that gets me out of bed every morning, and that will positively evolve our legal system. I want to make a difference to this profession with my skills, knowledge and passion but I also know that if I can help change even one person's life, I will have succeeded.
Describe your most memorable class or professor.
I’ll single her out only because I’ve already professed my obsession with her, to her, but Professor Edinger is someone I am lucky to have been taught by and I hope I can make her proud. That said, I hope to make all of my professors proud because they’ve all contributed to my growth and success in some way. To be taught by such brilliant minds is a true privilege.
My most memorable class has to be my semester at Rise Women's Legal Centre. To be part of the inaugural class of a project that is so important and ground-breaking has been an absolute honour.
What was the most challenging thing about law school?
Learning to measure success by something other than your grades, and, generally, learning to navigate the onslaught of adversity that you’ve never experienced before. Not dropping out after repeatedly being told “you suck at this, you should probably drop out” by your control freak/Type A/overachieving ego is a serious test of character.
What has been your best experience in law school so far?
On a superficial level: Law Revue in my first year. 1L had been very rough on me, my self-esteem, my confidence … my life, really. And then I got to perform in a few skits and make a little video and suddenly I felt like myself again. I was finally good at something, and I felt confident and comfortable and happy. It gave me the fuel I needed to get back to my studying and finish off the year. Since then, having the opportunity to run both the Law Revue and the Women’s Caucus and plan two major annual events were definitely experiences that I will always cherish.
Another amazing experience didn't come until my final year at Allard and it was the opportunity to participate in the newest legal clinic - Rise Women's Legal Centre. I came into this profession wanting to help people and as a Student Advisor at Rise, I have been able to do just that. Being able to take on their legal issues and lighten their lifeload just a little bit is an immense privilege and intensely motivating.
On a personal level, I have felt myself evolve into a more resilient and relaxed person. Law school does not care for your perfectionism or your Type A insanity or your self-esteem. It’ll tear you apart and eat you alive if you let it. Achieving that balance where you care, but not enough to lose sleep over it, is a feat in itself since we are all such overachievers. Getting to that place of control and calm is something I am very proud of, and that growth and evolution in character is something I would not have experienced so soon in life had I not been thrown into the hell that is first year law school.
How do you think the law or the legal profession will develop over the course of your career?
I have very high hopes for my generation. As millennials, we are fortunate to have been born into a world where many of the legal battles re: discrimination, racism, sexism etc. have already been fought and won, and so treating people equally and caring about human rights is second nature to us. That said, we are also a generation that is keenly aware of the gap between formal equality and what happens in reality.
As more women find themselves in the legal profession, there will be many developments on the feminist front in terms of how our society is set up, the structures in place to retain female legal professionals, to accommodate for young working families etc.
On a related, feminist note, I really hope that rules of evidence for sexual assault cases change; in fact, I hope that the practices informing how to handle sexual assault cases, in general, changes since the current system is wholly unfair and does not properly serve both parties equally.
The TRC recommendations have already made a huge impact on law schools around the country and Indigenous law will most likely explode in the next few years as issues and cases are revisited in the context of the TRC and the new Liberal government. Environmental Law will naturally be affected by the changes occurring in the Indigenous Law realm, but also independently, as this generation is one that grew up on the teachings of David Suzuki, Bill Nye, and other environmental activists. And of course, as the biggest techie generation, the laws regarding privacy, copyright, and maybe even jurisdiction (because of the borderless nature of the internet) will change as technology develops and permeates our lives in unprecedented ways.
I think that there will be more overlap between the various areas of the law and I really, truly, hope that the way the law is taught, and the way law schools operate, undergoes a dramatic restructuring to accommodate for a changing legal landscape. Currently, the consensus is that despite all the schooling and training, law students are simply not equipped to do law upon graduation, and the inefficiencies of the current model will only increase as demands on the legal profession change. We need to start contemplating alternative models and explore our options to update our profession.
*If you are a current student at the Allard School of Law and would like to participate in this initiative, please contact us for more information.