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After completing her BA at SFU, Alex Hughes worked as a policy analyst with the Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon Branch. She went on to complete a concurrent Bachelor of Civil Law and Bachelor of Laws at McGill University. After graduating, she returned to British Columbia to article at Lawson Lundell LLP. After articling, Hughes moved from the private firm to the federal Department of Justice where she has been working as a litigator for the past three years.
“My undergraduate in political science at SFU helped me develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Hughes. “It also taught me how to work through complex and multifaceted situations. That’s the crux of what a lawyer does day-to-day: we’re presented with different situations and we have to know how to analyze the facts and work towards a solution.”
She credits SFU's French Cohort Program with helping her land her first job after graduation. Through this program, Hughes gained a lot of exposure to different community organizations; in her final semester, one of her presentations caught the eye of a non-profit that worked in French education.
"They approached me following a school project and offered me a job," she said.
Hughes’ current work presents a constant challenge. She works in Aboriginal law, an area in which things are changing constantly.
"I get to be on the leading edge of these new developments," she said.
"Because of my background in French-language political science, I get assigned certain specialized tasks,” said Hughes. “I can work with colleagues from across the country on any sort of issue, bringing a deep understanding of policy. My undergrad in political science at SFU was definitely something that was seen as a benefit when I was hired; it gave me an advantage."
Hughes would advise current students to keep their options open and study a wide range of subjects. “Law can be multidimensional, so many experiences will shape what kind of lawyer someone becomes. Developing a broad base of knowledge in social and political issues, and how they interconnect, is vital.”
She cites the “phenomenal” instruction she received at SFU and in the French Cohort Program as the cornerstone of her learning.
"I think that a lot of students consider going into law and don’t always see the path as clear, or how to go from one discipline to another,” said Hughes. “It was definitely eye-opening to be on exchange, see other parts of the world and realize that all of this is connected."