Nina Rawana finds reality and heart inside every case she takes on. Her boundless energy and confidence reach beyond law.
Nina Rawana finds reality and heart inside every case she takes on. Her boundless energy and confidence reach beyond law. She practiced for 9 years in Germany before moving to Canada to pursue her LLM at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her fluency in German and her background in banking and capital markets not only add a fresh perspective to the legal community in Canada but also to her new role as senior counsel for BMO Financial Group.
What was it like growing up in your family?
My parents were born right after WW2 in rural areas of Germany. My dad learned to be a mechanic at the age of 13. My mom didn’t finish high school but she cultivated a strong focus on languages. My dad ran his own business and my mom was a stay at home mom until I was about 3 years old. I was integrated into my parents work life and the family business which they still operate in Germany. My parents taught me to face issues and problems head on. I learned that if I make a mistake, I need to own up to it, as it’s an opportunity to learn from and do better.
Where did you earn your law degree?
I always wanted to help and solve problems – and I always liked people more than numbers. Also, learning about the Nuremberg trials and the developments in the area of crimes against humanity, really touched me. At the beginning of my career I was fascinated with criminal cases because of the human element. I remember a case that had a huge impact on me. It taught me respect – especially respect for judges who sometimes need to make very difficult decisions based on sometimes limited facts. It was back in Germany in 2008. I got a call from a friend who went to law school with me. Her client had called her because the client and her husband were sitting in a hospital in Nuremberg with their 6-month old baby in critical condition, and Children’s Aid was about to take the sick baby and his twin away from the parents. I dropped everything and went straight to the hospital. My new clients were accused of shaking the baby that was in critical condition. We later discovered that the mother had a genetic condition and that the twins had inherited this genetic condition. The case required a lot of medical expertise. It went to both criminal court and family court. The genetic condition provided an alternative cause for the baby’s injuries, which helped resolve the criminal case. The family case, however, took over another year. The challenges for all parties involved in such a case impacted me tremendously.
Where did you complete your LPP work placement?
I did my placement at BMO Financial Group’s Legal department. The areas of the Legal group that I have had the opportunity to work in include Capital Markets, Wealth Management, and Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.
Describe a particularly memorable or significant experience during the training component of the LPP
One morning I received an email with a voice message from our “fictitious” Criminal Law client, Andy Waltz. Andy was arrested the night before and he was very upset. He wanted to talk to a lawyer right then and asked to be called back immediately. I listened to my client’s voice message while preparing breakfast for my husband and my 18 month old daughter. Needless to say none of them understood that I became really impatient, as I wanted to get back to my client ASAP – mainly to keep him from talking to police and making statements all of us might regret. For me, this was a significant experience because I actually did not care that this was a simulation exercise and that ‘Andy Waltz’ was an actor, most likely sitting comfortably in some TMU building. The voice message reminded me of my early years of practice in Germany; all I wanted was to get back to Andy as fast as possible to help him with his frustration and anger and to prevent him from making statements that could be detrimental to his upcoming case.
Describe a particularly memorable or significant experience during the work placement component of the LPP:
It was the opportunity to work on a coded project transaction where people are brought onboard on a need-to-know basis. I was given the task of reviewing contracts for the transaction and preparing the results for use during standing project calls. Attending these calls allowed me to gain invaluable experience. What also provided excitement to the work, was not knowing if the deal would close. Happily, this one did.
Describe some of the more particularly helpful tools or skills you acquired during the LPP:
The most helpful skills I acquired during the LPP are research and drafting. Being able to make good and efficient use of several research tools and being able to put the results of that research into concise and understandable words proved to be very useful beyond the training component and work placement. However, these skills are so much more important in the actual work environment because they help me keep on top of things.
Words of advice you can offer future LPP candidates:
In hindsight, I was very grateful for two things that I did. One, I completed the Bar Exams and secured a work placement before the LPP started so I could focus on the training itself. Second, it was very helpful being prepared and having done the ‘homework’ not only for the training component (client interviews) but even more so for the work placement. So bring your little black book, take notes, and follow up on your notes.
Final thoughts about the LPP:
The LPP provides a systematic approach to different areas of law and different skill sets; it provides fundamental stepping stones that help candidates learn and develop knowledge and skills. It starts with a simple email containing information about a prospective client and it ends with an examination/cross-examination in a courtroom. It provides administrative challenges by asking you to docket your time, to manage your documents and files and to deal with client complaints. You are also required to come up with a business plan for your own practice. The LPP provides you with the bigger picture about what it means to become a lawyer.