Dylan Gibbs Makes His Own Luck

    How a former software developer became a thriving law student headed for the Supreme Court

    By Priscilla Popp on June 11, 2018

    The harder you work, the luckier you get is a phrase Dylan Gibbs understands well. Riding high after securing a clerkship with the Supreme Court of Canada, the Calgary born graduating student can also reflect on a bevy of other accomplishments as he ventures into an exciting new chapter of his career.

    Before enrolling at University of Alberta Faculty of Law, Gibbs completed an undergraduate degree in computer science from UAlberta and became a software developer. Always up for a new challenge, his next step was law school.

    “I came back to school with the mindset that for three years it was going to be something I’m very seriously focused on,” he said. “I don’t think I had the same work ethic in my undergrad so it was good to come back ‘all-in’ for law school.”

    While at the Faculty, Gibbs worked as a research assistant to Dean Paton and Professor Steven Penney, was an editorial board member of the Alberta Law Review, a writing fellow of the first-year Legal Research and Writing Program, and as co-president of the Law and Business Association he helped organize the inaugural Legal Innovation Conference, where he also acted as a panel moderator.

    “Innovation is a topic that involves collaboration between multiple areas and many of the advancements we’ve had in the legal profession would not have been possible without computing science advancements,” he said.

    Though law is his new focus, computer science hasn't strayed far from his mind.

    He currently volunteers with Canada Learning Code, an organization that allows him to mentor women and youth with an interest in learning computer programming.

    He’s also known for putting on stellar performances in the competitive moot program.In 2016, after competing in the Brimacombe Selection Round, the qualifying round to determine eligibility for the year's moot season, Gibbs was named first runnerup. The next year, he placed first out of 76 participants. In March 2018, he competed in the Laskin Moot, one of Canada’s most prestigious bilingual moots, where he and his team placed third for best factum.

    That first place finish came a month after he won the Insolvency Institute of Canada Writing Award for his paper “Whose Restructuring is it Anyway? The Disconnect Between Third-Party Releases and the CCAA's Restructuring Purpose.”

    The article was initially written for Prof. Rod Wood’s second-year Bankruptcy and Insolvency course.

    “Insolvency litigation is an absolutely fascinating area of law,” he said.

    Most recently, he was named valedictorian for the 2018 graduating class.

    Gibbs said his early experiences in law have fuelled and confirmed his desire to be a lawyer, and emphasized the importance of getting involved outside of the classroom, something he didn’t do during his undergraduate degree.

    “One thing I've learned is that good things tend to happen when you invest yourself fully and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you,” he said.

    His latest accomplishment is perhaps the most rewarding and challenging yet.

    Gibbs was intent on securing a clerkship with the Supreme Court of Canada, no small feat considering that last year marked the first time in seven years that a student from UAlberta Law did so.

    His application was successful and he is headed to Canada’s top court.

    “The Supreme Court provides an unparalleled opportunity to work alongside a group of like-minded individuals who all have a passion for the law,” he said, adding that he’s grateful for the support and guidance of faculty members throughout the application process.

    Gibbs’ prestigious clerkship placement begins in September 2019 with the Hon. Russell Brown, before which he will clerk at the Court of Appeal and finish articles with Bennett Jones LLP, both in Calgary.

    His desire and decision to clerk at the Supreme Court would have surprised a first-year Gibbs, who said he initially had no interest in litigation.

    “I took some time to work after my undergraduate degree and before law school, so I wanted to get into a law firm as soon as possible. I was also interested in solicitor work, while clerks are often geared more towards litigation. After my first year of law school and a summer of work experience, though, I realized that litigation would be a much better fit for me,” he said.

    “I can definitely say that I would like to argue a case before the Supreme Court at some point in my career. It would be great to see the Court from both sides of the bench.”