New graduate appreciates big rewards of practising in small towns

Jessica Andreassen returns to Camrose to article at family-run firm

Sarah Kent - 05 June 2020

Law runs in the family for Jessica Andreassen, ‘20 JD, who is about to become the third generation to practise law at the Camrose firm that her grandfather established in 1954.

Andreassen’s father, James Harry Andreassen, ‘84 LLB, and aunt, Margaret Weir Andreassen, ‘81 LLB, are partners at Andreassen Borth.

“I started working there when I was 14. It was my first job—I was the janitor,” said Andreassen. “I distinctly remember cleaning the lawyer’s coffee mugs at the end of the day, wanting to eventually be in one of the offices.”

Born and raised in Camrose, Andreassen has worked at the firm for the last six summers, taking on more responsibilities each year as she moved from odd jobs to assisting with files. In June she starts her articles at the firm.

Andreassen Borth is a general practice, providing legal services in everything from collaborative family law to real estate. It also has regional offices located in Killam and Daysland, smaller towns located east of Camrose.

Working under senior partners, Andreassen will see files from start to finish, an opportunity that is rare in big city firms. That educational experience is invaluable, she said.

“Every summer, I was able to meet clients, sit in on meetings, and do drafting and research on such a wide range of issues that it really helped to colour my university experience of what I was learning in class,” she said.

Lifestyle

The lifestyle benefits also drew Andreassen back to Camrose, where she hopes to practise permanently. The lower-cost of living, no commute, more work-life balance and the embrace of a close community all make practising in a smaller centre more appealing for her.

“The sense of community in Camrose is incredible. It is so close-knit,” she said. “I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

Andreassen was inspired to pursue law school from a young age by observing how her father and aunt were serving their community.

“Growing up in that firm, I could see how being a lawyer can help people with so many different issues.”

The transition to the big city for law school was not easy, however. The population of Camrose is just shy of 20,000, less than half the population of UAlberta alone. The university’s welcoming spirit made Edmonton feel like another home, said Andreassen.

“I thought law school would be a competitive, isolating experience but the community at UAlberta Law has been incredible,” she said. “The community was so supportive. That really helped.”

Andreassen cites being a member of Swift Justice, the women’s law hockey team, and Panda Bearristers, the rugby team that won the Western Canadian Law Championship during all three of her years at UAlberta Law, as highlights.

“It has been so much fun to get to know your classmates on that level.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted expectations Andreassen had for her final weeks of law school, she’s looking forward to the Class of 2020’s virtual convocation on June 12 and the next step in her legal career.

“It was a weird way to end, but we made it!”