One big highlight of 2021?! Celebrating the 80th birthday of our founding partner, the one and only, Jim Smith!
🥳 In 2021, we celebrated the 80th birthday of our founding partner, the one and only, Jim Smith! This video is only a small highlight of how amazing this man is and how much gratitude we have for all the great work he’s done for Osuji & Smith and the community.
❤️ We love you, Jim!
From humble beginnings, Jim was born in Perdue, Saskatchewan on November 17, 1941. Immediately from a young age, Jim understood the meaning and value of hard work, as from the age of 15 he would eagerly get his hands on any type of work to gain exposure and obtain experience within various types of industries. Later moving to Granum, Alberta, he would work part-time jobs while going to school and during his summer holidays to earn an income in order to financially support his family.
While in school, Jim met his wife Linda and they were married in 1962 in Fort MacLeod.
After high school, Jim worked in construction and then the drilling rigs in Alberta, British Columbia and in the Artic. Later, Jim and his Wife moved to Lethbridge where he attended University and shortly after he was hired by Calgary’s School Board where he taught Social Studies to children in grades 7 and 9. Jim’s inherit love for hard work later resulted in him resigning from the School Board as he headed back into the industry of construction where he drove his own truck for several years.
After working in construction for some time, Jim decided to shift gears and change industries, as he went on to study law and became one of the newest students at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law at the “newly” created law department while under the tutelage of John McLaren.
Jim graduated from U of C Law School in 1979 and found articles with a sole practitioner in downtown Calgary with Leslie Szmolyan, who had been a lawyer in Serbia prior to immigrating to Canada. It was here Jim began to appreciate the obstacles that international students must undergo to certify their degrees in Canada.
After working with Leslie for some time Jim discovered a house for rent, hidden away off of Kensington Street, located at 348 – 14 St NW. Excited about this discovery he showed a classmate of his from law school and they both formed a partnership, which would later become the law office of Metz and Smith. Although they went their separate ways later, Jim continued to manage and operate the Smith Law Firm at the 14th location.
Over the course of his law practice, Jim had given articles to more than 20 students! Having knowledge of the trials and tribulations that junior lawyers have to endure during their articling. Jim always believed students had something to contribute to their principals and has certainly received valuable tips and information from his students over the years.
One lawyer in particular, Charles Osuji, the current Managing Partner & CEO at Osuji & Smith Lawyers. Before taking on this position, Charles articled at the firm and worked closely with Jim for several years, alongside other students. At the time, when Charles reached out to Jim, he had advised Charles that he no longer had room at the firm for another articling student. Nevertheless, Jim being the man he is, still agreed to meet with Charles as he believed that at a minimum, he could still provide Charles with some assistance and support during his articles.
After chatting with Charles, Jim immediately discovered that he was an above average candidate, as a first-class graduate from his Law school in Nigeria with various other achievements and was accompanied with a unique determination to learn and grow. Jim was thoroughly impressed and determined to find a way to onboard Charles as the newest member of his firm, despite having just hired another student. Shortly after, Jim immediately onboarded Charles as his newest articling student.
Jim came to know Charles and to love him, as he fondly notes that “He has been the best thing to happen to our office and me, and I was happy to sell him the office and my practice.”
Since then, Charles has taken on the reins of the firm and has significantly grown the practice, developing the office both legally and financially, while continuing Jim’s legacy and principals of mentorship, which have since been engrained in Charles, to help other law students during their legal careers and to give back to our community.
Today, Charles has built a team of amazing lawyers and has expanded the practice, as Osuji & Smith Lawyers has become a well-known and respected law firm in Calgary, Alberta, and which embraces a client-centered approach with a niche focus on their clients’ needs and wellbeing.
In short, Charles is grateful for the rare opportunity Jim created for him and has left the two with a unique partnership based on trust, loyalty, and friendship. As Jim reflected on his relationship with Charles, “he is the best thing that happened to me in my legal career, and he is a close friend of mine and will remain so for the rest of my life.”
Jim remains as an integral asset and friend of the Osuji & Smith team, as every member of our family appreciates his continuous support and weekly visits to the law firm, as our weeks are never complete without him!
One big highlight of 2021?! Celebrating this man’s 80th birthday! 🎂 Another post to show how much we love our amazing founding partner, Jim Smith! We had an amazing night filled with his friends, family and staff! 🥂