As a lawyer, helping some of Alberta’s most disadvantaged citizens can be a profound source of job satisfaction.
At Legal Aid Alberta, we’re grateful to have over 1,200 roster lawyers working with us to deliver access to justice to Albertans across the province. Together, we are helping thousands of disadvantaged citizens navigate the justice system and overcome their legal challenges.
Jeremy DeBow is a former roster lawyer, now staff duty counsel in our Lethbridge office. Jeremy was born and raised in Edmonton and Lethbridge, completed law school at the University of New Brunswick in 2006 and was called to the bar in 2008. He served as a Crown prosecutor for nine years, mainly working on drug trafficking files. In 2017, he shifted his focus to defence work; during this time, he also spent four years on the LAA roster as duty counsel before joining our staff last year.
We sat down with Jeremy to gain some insights into his career growth on the frontlines of the Alberta justice system.
Discovering your passion. Jeremy had practiced in a couple of different roles before joining the legal aid roster. Still, it was his work as roster duty counsel that led him to the work he finds most fulfilling: “I didn’t expect working with folks in custody to be as rewarding as it was,” Jeremy remembers. “It’s satisfying to know that you’re making sure there’s somebody there to help them with the steps that lie ahead of them.” Jeremy is now working full-time in a role he’s passionate about; being on the roster is what started him on that path.
“I didn’t expect working with folks in custody to be as rewarding as it was. It’s satisfying to know that you’re making sure there’s somebody there to help.”
Getting to know the players. When you’re on the roster, you can encounter clients and cases that you might not otherwise have come across. This more wide-ranging involvement is a great opportunity to get to know more of the people working in the system. “The courthouse relies on people throughout the system to adapt and respond quickly to whatever is happening,” Jeremy notes. “A big part of that is knowing who can give the best answer, who you need to talk to, and how to reach them.”
Gaining perspective. Developing a more comprehensive sense of what’s happening in the justice system and the issues that Albertans in your area are facing benefits your work as a whole. “You get a broader view of the issues that are out there,” says Jeremy. “The whole system needs you, and you often need to be able to react swiftly and with flexibility. Having that perspective can help.”
Re-energizing your purpose. Helping some of Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens can be a profound source of job satisfaction. Jeremy recalls, “One aspect of being on the roster that turned out to be quite rewarding was the chance to be there for folks in trouble. When I spoke to people who were in custody, I was struck by how much they really needed that voice on the outside who’s there to assist them, and how important that was for them. It’s nice to know that you are able to be there for clients, even if it’s not always to deliver good news, but just to be at their side.”