Oct. 17, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Caleigh Hanks BA'07 (Communications) (Law & Society)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Alumna Caleigh Hanks stands facing the camera. A bare prairie is behind her.
Caleigh Hanks BA'07 (Communications) (Law & Society)

Caleigh Hanks graduate in 2007 with a double major in Communications and Law & Society. She currently works as Legal Counsel with Shell Canada Limited and has experience with a wide range of matters, including contract disputes, environmental matters (including criminal prosecutions and civil claims in nuisance, trespass, and negligence), employment claims, and judicial reviews from regulatory hearings. She has appeared before the Provincial Court of Alberta, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, and the Alberta Court of Appeal. She obtained her law degree from the University of Alberta. She is a strong community supporter and volunteers Winston Heights Mountview Refugee Response and the immigration program with Calgary Legal Guidance.

Meet Caleigh October 26th at our Alumni Coffee Chat! Learn more >

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

Graduating with the same friend that I met the first day at U of C 101.  Seriously, how awesome is that?

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

At any sunny window study carrel in the MacKimmie Library.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

Don’t slack off in your fourth year. It’s easy to get discouraged, to assume this is all the school you’ll ever want to do, to call it a “victory lap”. But I don’t regret for one moment putting in the time and work in my fourth year to do well. It’s when all the best, smallest, and most challenging courses are offered. Don’t waste that opportunity to learn.

How has your career evolved?

I went from serving tables, to working with the homeless, to private practice, to in-house counsel. I found the best way to evolve my career was to chase the opportunities that interested me, and to make some of my own. For example, writing blog posts about new case law, or doing research into certain legal trends, or finding lawyers who had files that interested me and asking to get involved. That allowed me to develop and hone my skills in my interest areas.

What is the best thing about your job?

There are a lot of wonderful things about my current role, but the best thing for me is the independence I have to work on my own files.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

My Law and Society degree helped me realize I wanted to continue my legal studies, if possible, by going to law school.  It definitely gave me an understanding of basic Canadian legal concepts.  My Communications degree helped me be a more effective communicator which complimented my Law and Society degree.

Do you have advice for students looking to pursue a similar career path?

The same advice that was given to me.  If you think you want to be a lawyer, then try to go to law school. It never hurts you to have that degree, even if you ultimately pursue other interests.  

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

I had many professors help me in many ways along the way, big and small. I would like to give a small shout out in the hopes they will see this to Dr. Donald B. Smith who showed me that enthusiasm for your subject matter is everything (slide days!), Dr. Augustine Brannigan for taking a chance on an “out-of-faculty” student, Dr. Chloe Atkins for challenging me to be the best I could be, Professor Linda McKay-Panos who taught me basic legal research skills (saving me in law school), Dr. Rebecca Sullivan for challenging my world view and my imposter syndrome, and Dr. Tania Smith for showing me the value in mentorship and networks.