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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Legal eagle finds her wings

By Sofia Pinellis-Sheikh
Special to The Sun

Like many freshly graduated high-school students, Dayle Boutilier contemplated where her interests in the work force lay and exactly what steps she was willing to take in achieving the career best suited for her.
Senior legal assistant Dayle Boutilier attributes her career success to a part-time Law Clerk program she took at Centennial College.

Part-time courses
Instead of wasting sleepless nights worrying about it, Boutilier decided it was best to wait it out before she made any hasty decisions about furthering her education, and took a secretarial job just after graduation.

She had always had a keen interest in law -- but how could Boutilier combine her administrative skills with her passion for all things legal?

Boutilier decided to take some part-time legal courses and soon landed a junior assistant position in the litigation department of the Toronto firm Thomson, Rogers. It didn't take long for her to begin dreaming of a higher position, maybe working at a larger firm where she would be able to assume more responsibilities.

Boutilier quickly deduced that returning to school would be a career-enhancing move.

After searching for legal programs at various colleges, Boutilier applied for the part-time Law Clerk program at Centennial College.

The continuing education program was created for people just like her: by attending classes in the evenings, she would be able to carry on with her full-time job and continue collecting her paycheque.

"Centennial showed me that I was capable of multitasking my job, my social life, my extra curricular activities and, most importantly, furthering my education," Boutilier says.

Boutilier received her diploma along with a newfound sense of confidence. She started handing out her improved resume in hopes of landing her dream job.

Enter Kelly Gill, an associate with Gowlings, one of North America's largest intellectual property firms. He was instantly impressed with Boutilier's experience, attitude and fresh outlook on life. He hired her as his assistant; from that day on, things were never the same.

Boutilier became immersed in a new area of law that is constantly changing and certainly interesting (intellectual property law examines copyright, trademark and authorship). Before she knew it, she had gained enough experience working at Gowlings to achieve new status as a senior assistant.

"The growth I experienced at Gowlings is based mainly on the education I received at Centennial," Boutilier says. "I was able to apply so many of my class skills to my everyday work life."


Her ability to keep a good handle on Gill's practice, as well as assume many more responsibilities as a department head's assistant, has proven to Boutilier and to Gowlings that she's capable of just about anything she puts her mind to.

Her self-confidence has helped her outside of work, too. Boutilier has taken on mountain biking, perfected her skiing, joined various women's golf groups, as well as volunteered at the Birchmount Bluffs Community Centre, working with special-needs adults. All of which bring great joy to Boutilier's life.

Her story is one that encourages others to take bold steps of their own -- even if it means taking some time to locate your dream career.

There are many post-secondary schools willing to assist in making that journey as smooth as possible. -- Centennial College, photo Senior legal assistant Dayle Boutilier attributes her career success to a part-time Law Clerk program she took at Centennial College. -- Sofia Pinellis-Sheikh is a student in Centennial's Online Writing and Information Design program.

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