April 9, 2019 - 3:30pm
When people think of becoming a doctor or lawyer, Vancouver Island University (VIU) may not be the obvious choice of study, but as a Nanaimo law firm proves, the institute is a great transition to higher post-secondary education.
Out of the six lawyers at Johnston, Franklin, Bishop, five of them started their post-secondary journey at VIU.
“VIU offered a broad range of course selection and due to the cost of courses compared to bigger institutions, I was able to try a bunch of courses that I would have never tried elsewhere,” says Greg Phillips, Injury Claims and Civil Litigation lawyer and VIU Alum. “It was a great opportunity to explore different interests and I got a well-rounded education because of this.”
Being able to complete his undergraduate degree at VIU gave Phillips the ability to live at home and work off his tuition fees by the time he graduated.
“Cost is always a factor. Law school can be incredibly expensive,” says Phillips. “It was nice not having an extra $40,000 in debt carried forward.”
Blair Franklin shares a similar story why he decided to attend VIU. “My commerce class at VIU had about 30 to 40 students whereas when I attended UBC my commerce classes could be 300 students,” says Franklin. “With the small class size, I got to know my peers and teachers well. I could still tell you the name of the professors I had at VIU, but I would have no idea who the commerce faculty was at UBC.”
Managing partner and VIU Alum Marsha Bishop, attended VIU twice before entering law school.
“I went to VIU straight out of high school then took a break from my studies to raise my family,” she says. “I returned as a mature student on, initially on a part-time basis, and then on a full time basis. One of the amazing things about VIU is the flexibility in their course schedule. By accessing nighttime and summer courses it was easy for me to make up for lost time.”
While attending UBC, Franklin realized Vancouver wasn’t ever going to be his permanent home. He decided to move back to Nanaimo where he had access to all the services he needs without the long commute Vancouver traffic brings. Franklin joined the firm in 1995 and now manages it with Phillips and Bishop.
Providing opportunities for local students to begin their post-secondary educational journey close to home helps strengthen the local economy. A report commissioned by VIU analyzing the economic impact of education at the University found that VIU contributed to a total of $217.2 million of taxpayer benefits for a $61.7 million investment by the government. That money is generated by small businesses and people staying local and supporting the growth of the community.
“It honestly doesn’t matter where you get your undergraduate degree. Employers and other institutions don’t judge where you completed your education,” says Philips. “What is important is what school fits your values and needs.”
Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University