Member Highlight (November 2023)

Celso Sakuraba, Immigration Lawyer at RV Law LLP

The Brazil Canada Bar Association (BCBA) directors are thrilled to announce the second edition of the Meet Our Members series – a unique platform that highlights the exceptional skills of our lawyer and paralegal members and spotlights the expanding community of legal professionals of Brazilian origin in Canada.

Meet Celso Sakuraba, a lawyer at RV Law LLP specializing in Immigration Law, Landlord and Tenant, Wills and Estates, and Corporate Law.

Celso Sakuraba, Immigration Lawyer at RV Law LLP

Celso’s experience in Brazil

After being called to the Bar in 2005 in Brazil, Celso worked primarily in civil litigation. Celso appeared in all levels of court in Brazil, including the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Brazil. During his 10-year-long career in litigation in Brazil, Celso learned a lot of skills that are transferable to his current position in Canada. For instance, he says that the ability to handle clients’ expectations, manage difficult clients, organize a file and provide oral submissions have proven very useful in his career as a lawyer in Canada.

Celso’s path to become a lawyer in Canada

Celso’s first job in Canada was as a legal secretary and then as a law clerk. Celso didn’t know that he could become a lawyer in Canada when he first arrived here. However, with the support of his current employer, he decided to go through the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) process to become licensed in Canada. To satisfy the NCA requirements, Celso enrolled in the Canadian Common Law program at Osgoode Hall Law School.

After receiving the Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, Celso took the barrister and solicitor exams required by the Law Society of Ontario. Celso took his first exam (solicitors) virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the second exam (barrister) in person. Celso said the only difference between the in-person and virtual examinations is that the candidate can keep their materials at the end of the virtual exam. He says this is helpful because it avoids the need to highlight the Professional Responsibility book twice.

Celso’s career as a lawyer in Canada

Celso works as a lawyer at a full-service law firm, RV Law LPP, the same law firm where he was a legal secretary, law clerk and articling student. He primarily works with immigration law, but also has files related to Landlord and Tenant issues, Wills and Estates and Corporate Law.

Celso says that his experience as a law clerk in Canada has taught him skills that he uses today as a practicing lawyer. He believes that having experience as a law clerk is helpful because the clerk learns most of the day-to-day tasks that the lawyer needs to complete. However, he warns internationally trained lawyers that not every employer might be willing to hire back their law clerk as a lawyer. It is more likely for small or mid-size firms to agree to hire back their law clerks or legal secretaries as lawyers.

Celso’s advice to other internationally trained lawyers

Celso reminds internationally trained lawyers that they do not have to become a lawyer in Canada only because they used to be a lawyer in their home jurisdiction. It is possible to have a good job in law-adjacent jobs without being called to the Bar. For those who decide to become a lawyer, Celso says it is essential to have a support network because the process can be extenuating.

BCBA thanks Celso for taking the time to allow us to interview him. Stay tuned to our next “Meet our Members” issue.

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