Alumni Profile David Wotherspoon

BA (Hons) in Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 1986
MA in Psychology, University of British Columbia, 1998
LLB, University of British Columbia, 1991
Ligitation Lead at Dentons Vancouver

Connect with David on Linkedin here.

1. Where do you currently work and what is your position? Which jobs or careers have you held since completion of your Psychology degree up until your current role?

My path to gainful employment was a bit winding for about 10 years after high school. It included, taxi driver and truck driver, both in Toronto; studying and later working in photography, mostly news photography. Once I started university I couldn’t stop (I really enjoyed being a student!), and didn’t stop until I had three degrees. 

Since then, in 1991, I have practiced full time as a lawyer, a litigator. I like to think I sue bad people and defend good people. While I was at a different firm for most of my career, I now lead the litigation group in the Vancouver office of Dentons (the largest law firm in the world).

2. Why did you decide to study psychology?

In the first couple of years at university I did a broad range of coursework and considered several different paths forward. But I kept coming back to psychology as the field that really interested me. Humans are such complex and fascinating creatures!

3. What were your favourite courses? Who were your favourite professors at SFU psychology?

One semester, I can’t recall which, I was having a hard time fitting the courses I wanted into my calendar. I had several part time jobs so limited flexibility. The only course that fit was the psychology of consciousness with Barry Beyerstein. Barry was a marvel of intellect and information. It was a great loss when he passed away. Barry inspired in me a long interest in neuropsychology, a field I might well have pursued had I not opted for law.

4. What did you originally plan to do with your degree in psychology during your undergrad, if you had any ideas at that time? Is that different than what you do now? If so, how?

In undergrad, and into grad school, I was interested in the interplay between technology and psychology. You must remember this was at about the time people were first getting home computers and the Internet, at lest in it current form, was a long way into the future. I was very interested in how technology led people to think, learn, and to interact differently. At that time it was hard to find people, academics, with similar interests. Of course there is now tremendous research undertaken in this area.

5. Were there ever periods during your undergrad when you felt unsure about your future? If so, how did you cope with that? 

I still feel uncertain about my future! I suffer from imposter syndrome, so yes, I definitely felt uncertain. But I believed a degree in psychology from SFU would be a good basis to more forward and it would give me a number of options. 

6. What advice would you give to students that you wish you knew in your undergrad?

Imagine a river flowing through the school pushing you in a particular direction, to a particular career. Before you get there, swim to the shore, climb out and have a look around. There are a lot of path available beyond where the current pushes you. Whatever decision you make, make it with intention.