Charles Osuji, one of Lexpert’s Rising Stars in 2021, embodies the diversity of the legal profession in Canada. The Nigerian-born lawyer joined the firm in 2013 as an articling student, was called to the Alberta bar in 2014, and became a partner in 2016. Osuji took on a lead role at the firm when his former principal James Smith was looking for a successor as he was about to retire. This opened a path for the young lawyer to become the firm’s sole owner in 2017.
Strategies and skills of the flourishing Canadians, born abroad
“Get out there and connect with people.”
A conversation with Charles Osuji
Each February, Canada recognizes Black History Month and honours the contributions of Black Canadians. This month, we are highlighting the commitment to pro bono service exemplified by the following Pro Bono Law Alberta volunteers and champions.
Charles Osuji is a champion for pro bono causes, and an active mentor for internationally trained lawyers in Alberta. Through his work with internationally trained lawyers, he was referred numerous volunteers to pro bono organizations around our province, including PBLA.
Charles received his legal education in Nigeria, and was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 2014. He began articling at what was then called Smith Law Office, and became a named partner in 2016, and sole owner of Osuji & Smith in 2017. Charles currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Calgary Regional Immigrant Employment Council, where he also volunteers as a mentor to other internationally trained professionals. He has previously volunteered for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary and the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. Charles is also a volunteer for the Igbo Cultural Association, the Mustard Seed, and Habitat for Humanity.
Running a law firm is no child’s play. You are both a lawyer and a business owner. Grow slowly. Focus on good customer service. Be kind to your staff.
Charles is a multi-award winning lawyer, and one of the leading young lawyers in Canada. He is the CEO and Managing Partner of Osuji & Smith, one of the fastest growing law firms in Alberta. He has been chosen as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada, the Entrepreneur of the Year by Diversity Magazine, the 2020 Immigrant of Distinction (Achievement Under 35) Award by Immigrant Services Calgary, Calgary Top 40 under 40, and repeatedly voted as one of the top 3 Employment, Divorce, Civil Litigation and Business lawyers in Calgary by ThreeBestRated, among other awards and recognitions. He has recently been recognized, and voted by his fellow lawyers across Canada, in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada, 2022, for his outstanding professional excellence in private practice.
The Top 25 Most Influential 2020 winner
By the age of 30, Charles Osuji, an internationally trained lawyer from Nigeria, bought a 37-year-old firm wherein he had served as an articling student not long before. Today, Osuji & Smith is a thriving small-sized firm that offers multi-generational and multi-cultural perspectives to its client base.
Starting a business can be both exciting and stressful. And most people have the question of whether or not to hire a business lawyer when starting their business.
So, is it necessary to hire a lawyer when starting your business?
It only took Charles Osuji a few years to go from arriving in Calgary as a newly minted Nigerian lawyer to being named one of the Top 25 Influential Lawyers in Canada in 2020 by Canadian Lawyer.
Charles Osuji is the managing partner at Osuji and Smith Lawyers in Calgary, Alberta. He came to Canada from Nigeria and challenged the Canadian bar. After this, through hard work and dedication, he worked his way up through the ranks to eventually making partner. Shortly after, he bought out his partner James Smith. Charles, at the young age of 31, is a shining example of what you can accomplish if you’re hungry and willing to work. In this interview, we talk about the struggles he faced as well as the advice he has for new entrepreneurs.
A few years ago, Charles Osuji was a budding lawyer in Nigeria. Today, he’s the managing partner and CEO of Calgary’s fastest-growing law firm, Osuji & Smith, and a frequent recipient of prestigious national and local awards and recognitions.
Osuji’s acclaim began in 2016 when he was nominated as the 2016 Professional of the Year by Obsidian, Alberta. The next year, he was rated one of the Top 3 Employment Lawyers in Calgary, Alberta for 2017 – an award he’s won every year since then.
I seat down with Charles Osuji, the owner and Managing Partner of Osuji & Smith Lawyers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Charles shares his journey as a young man growing up in a large family in SE Nigeria, he shares details of his legal training in Nigeria and steps he took to become a foreign-trained lawyer licensed to practice in Alberta. We take a deep dive into his journey from an articling student at Smith Law Office to his eventual acquisition of the law practice which is today Osuji & Smith Lawyers. We talk about diversity, race, and racism, and end with nuggets of wisdom that many will find insightful.
So I finally caught up with Charles Osuji after trailing him for 3 years reading about his meteoric rise to “legal stardom” in Canada and got him to talk about what and how exactly this rise came about.
“ My name is Charles Osuji. I’m the seventh child out of eight kids. I came to Canada in 2011, sponsored by my brother, Joseph Osuji, a Nursing Professor. Before writing the bar exams, I did all kinds of survivor work, you can think of, sleeping only two nights in a week and eventually articling in a law firm that I currently own
I’ll talk a little bit about my journey before that point in history, and it was typical of any immigrant’s journey, arriving in a new country, having left all of the comforts, your home country afforded. I had family members here, but I told them I was only going to stay with them for a month and then start out on my own because I wanted to challenge myself.
And that’s exactly what I did. I tried my hands on all kinds of work. This time I was working three jobs at a time morning afternoon night, you know, I was surviving on Red Bull at some point Red Bull came to its limit… “
For anyone who knows Charles, this is not your typical interview!
Balancing legal practice with managing a FAST-GROWING LAW FIRM IN CALGARY
Charles Osuji is the Managing Partner and CEO of Osuji & Smith Lawyers. He is one of the leading young lawyers in Canada. He has been chosen as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada, the Entrepreneur of the Year by Diversity Magazine, the 2020 Immigrant of Distinction (Achievement Under 35) Award by Immigrant Services Calgary, and repeatedly voted as one of the top 3 Employment and Business lawyers in Calgary by ThreeBestRated, among other awards and recognitions.
Charles joined ITL Voices to share his story and the demands of balancing legal practice with managing a fast-growing law firm.
Charles Osuji sits down with Franklin of Diversity Magazine to discuss how Osuji & Smith has embraced diversity in the workplace
Our very own Charles Osuji was the proud winner of the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by AC (Afro Canadian) Awards
Charles Osuji & James Smith Podcast by Alberta Real Estate Association
Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) Podcasts for September 2018. AREA recently featured Charles Osuji and Jim Smith on its monthly podcast. This time, they talked about when Realtors, mortgage brokers (or anyone) should incorporate and the benefits of incorporation.
Charles Osuji was interviewed by Jonathan Hafichuk
The Ambition Project- Episode 8. January 8, 2019. Immigrant to Partner by 31 is the title of the interview where Charles Osuji talked about his journey from an immigrant to a successful entrepreneur.” For more details about this interview from The Ambition Project …
Charles Osuji was interviewed by Phina Brooks
Afro-X TV Show on OMNI TV. November 2, 2018. Phina Brooks chats with Charles Osuji on the popular Afro X TV Show about his growing up in Nigeria, law career, professional life in the diaspora, family and more. Charles was required to speak in Pidgin English on this interview.For more details…
Charles Osuji featured on NIDOA “Spotlight Series”
Dami Adeniyi’s Blog. October 26, 2018. The Spotlight Series, Charles Osuji shares with NIDOA Correspondent, Jenny Aik his journey as an immigrant and offers tips on how he has been able to overcome all obstacles to become a successful Nigerian in Diaspora. Dami adeniyi is a passionate media influencer who has decided to take up the task of spreading the positive news we rarely see on mainstream media. For more details see interview…
The Ambition Project
The Ambition Project. August 15, 2018. Charles Osuji was recently part of the award-winning “the Ambition Project”, where successful and ambitious Calgary entrepreneurs were interviewed and given the opportunity to express their struggles, and what they’ve had to overcome on their journey. This video took the first position for the just concluded 2018 Calgary Professional Videographer’s Association annual film contest. For more details see interview…
NIDOA Spotlight Series
NIDOA Spotlight Series, October 23 2018. In this first episode of the NIDOA Calgary Spotlight series, Jennifer sits down with Charles Osuji who tells his story about how he beat all odds and has achieved and exceeded expectations in a seemingly short period of time. For more details.
Employees must adhere to their employers’ policies: Charles Osuji on Air Canada employee pot pan.
Calgary Citytv News. September 28, 2018. Brittany Rosen, reporter with Citytv News, Calgary, sought Charles Osuji’s opinion on what employees can or cannot do in their personal time outside their employment. For more details.
The Impact of Mentorship on Newcomers to Canada
Global News Morning Calgary. June 10, 2018. Interview to Charles Osuji, Managing Partner at Osuji & Smith Lawyers, and mentor with the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council. For more details see interview…
Candid Conversation and Q & As with ITLs this Spring!
Global Lawyers of Canada. Posted May 16, 2018 Read more…
Charles Osuji Nominated For The Prestigious Immigrant Of Distinction (Achievement Under 35) Award By Immigrant Services Calgary.
Dami Adeniyi’s Blog. Posted February 18, 2018. Read more…
Nigerian-trained Lawyer Prospers in Calgary
The Lawyer’s Daily. Published by LexisNexis Canada, article written by Carolyn Gruske. Posted on December 19, 2017. Read more…
From Law Student to Partner to owing a Law Firm: Charles Osuji’s Road to Achieving His Dream
Dami Adeniyi’s Blog. Posted November 20, 2017. Read more…
From Nigeria to Calgary – An Internationally Trained Lawyer’s Successful Journey
Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) Posted on November 15, 2017. Interview to Charles Osuji. Read more…
Business Transactions: Reducing Mitigating Legal/ Risks
NIDOA Calgary. Posted May 13, 2017. Read more…
The Three Best Employment Lawyers in Calgary, AB
The Best Employment Lawyers in Calgary, AB. Read more…
…Osuji & Smith has just won the 2021 Three Best Rated for Best Rated Employment Lawyers in Calgary. This is our fifth win having won it in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. We have also won the 2021 Three Best Rated for Best Rated Business Lawyers in Calgary for 2021. This is our third win having won it in 2019 and 2020. Osuji & Smith has also won the Three Best Rated for Best Rated Divorce, Civil Litigation and Estate Planning Lawyers in Calgary. We have also won the 2021 Top Choice Award for Business Services in Calgary and the Hope Awards, Aspen, among other awards.
What People Say About US
“Charles was fantastic to work with! He was very professional, made sure I knew my options and supportive to the end. He successfully handled my employment matter and I would hire Charles again if needed.”
Aniedi Davidson at Osuji & Smith made our experience of incorporating interesting, accessible and hassle free. She took the time required to help us understand the process thoroughly and was very kind and friendly. Incorporating felt like a large task to us and she made it easy! I would highly recommend her services to anyone looking to incorporate their business.
Quite frankly, Osuji & Smith is the best. Charles and his team handled my Divorce process with ease. Their level of flexibility and professionalism is second to none! Would advise the general public to contact Osuji & Smith for all their legal needs.
I would like to thank Nitin Srivastava of Osuji & Smith for his help on my recent case. He was very professional and knowledgeable and helped me to make the proper decision regarding my case. I would recommend Nitin to anyone needing advice on labour and employment law.
My partner and I had a meeting with Charles today. He was very welcoming and so full of knowledge! Not only that but most importantly, honest. He helped us understand our situation and did so without us retaining him and charging us a ton of money! Such a different experience than any other lawyer I had dealt with in the city. He did not make us feel as if we were just a dollar sign and actually seemed to care. That is not common in lawyers. You’re awesome Charles and we would most definitely recommend you to anyone!
Charles Osuji has been my legal advisor for some time now. From the first day I met with him, I came to the conclusion that being brilliant and respectful has nothing to do with race or colour of skin. If you need a smart, efficient, competent, hardworking and professional lawyer, Charles Osuji embodies all these qualities. Charles is a very patient, considerate, hardworking lawyer that works 24/7 for the best interest of his client. He has been handling all my legal matters and has done an amazing job. I should note that he works with a dynamic and friendly team. I highly recommend him and his law firm, Osuji & Smith!
I had a great experience with Charles Osuji and his staff! Very professional and friendly and helpful. They are very reasonable with their hourly rates. I highly recommend Charles Osuji and Osuji & Smith to all my friends and anyone out there who is looking for professional help.
Had a great experience dealing with Charles. He looked after our best interests and finished our contract in good time. We will be using Osuji and Smith in the future.
Osuji and Smith handles all of our personal and business needs and we could not be happier with them. They are always available to answer any questions and provide sound advice. If you are looking for a great law firm, call them and they will take care of you every step of the way.
They are Excellent and I had a wonderful experience especially Mr. Charles! He is very friendly and explained us all the outcomes. And we won the case!
Charles and Colleen provided me with some legal and real estate services. They are very professional, competent and on time. Their fees are very reasonable too. I highly recommend Charles Osuji and to anyone looking for a competent and knowledgeable lawyer that can resolve your case quickly at a reasonable price. Thanks, Osuji and Smith for the excellent work!
We hired Charles to help us with Employment law. He was very knowledgeable on the matter, he worked very efficiently and he achieved a favorable result in a short period of time. He was also very reasonable priced. I highly recommend him to anyone in a need of legal advice and services.
I came to Osuji & Smith to review a commercial lease for my new business location. Charles and Alessia thoroughly reviewed my lease with me so that I understood it, and provided me specific notes about the present lease to take back to the landlord. Charles exceeded my expectations by also giving me additional tips on legal contracts on top of sharing some business advice that will be invaluable to the future of my business and my success as a new business owner. I feel the value I received from this office is why I will surely choose them again in the future.
I worked solely with Charles on an employment case that was very personal to me. From the get go he displayed nothing but the highest standard of respect, knowledge, case fact competency and actually cares about your interest & well being. Always reachable even whilst I was overseas in multiple countries. His consistency, experience, historic reference, and flawless case punctuality are very noticeable in the way he handled every single matter. I can’t thank him enough for his honest work, support, and dealings. Osuji and Smith law-firm is an amazing establishment. Thank you again, Charles.
Charles Osuji has been my legal advisor for some time. From the first day I met with Charles I came to conclusion that being brilliant and respectful has nothing to do with race or colour of skin. If you need a smart, efficient, competent, hardworking and professional lawyer, Charles embodies all these qualities. Charles is very patient, considerate, hardworking lawyer that works 24/7 for the best interest of his client. He has been handling all my legal matters and had done an amazing job. He works with a dynamic and friendly team. I highly recommend him and his law firm Osuji & Smith Lawyers.
I have used them once and all I can say is their services are top notch, didn’t have anything to complain about. Hence I will definitely recommend them to friends and family.
I had the opportunity to have Charles Osuji providing legal services for myself and I can say that he and his team dealt with my matter in a very professional way. They are very responsive and Charles worked even on a Sunday to have my issue solved as soon as possible. Reasonable priced and more than that, he offered me the most cost-efficient alternatives for my case. Highly recommend this law firm.
I hired Charles for a prenuptial agreement. He is amazing from day 1. Unlike other corporate family lawyers, Charles calls you back even after 9 pm and even on a Saturday or Sunday. You can directly talk to Charles anytime unlike other lawyers who are not so easy to talk. His prices are reasonable and he is very professional. I would highly recommend Osuji & Smith for your legal needs.
I worked with Charles and Colleen for the sale of my old home and the purchase of my new home. They were so wonderful to deal with. Very professional and helpful. I would highly recommend Osuji & Smith for your legal needs!
Charles is amazing. He handled my divorce efficiently and professional and put up with some craziness on my part. Would definitely recommend!