Raj Sharma prioritized money when he weighed his options for a career path initially, but he would later learn that his true calling was to become a lawyer to help underrepresented groups.  

Having initially pursued dentistry for the promising salary, Sharma turned to legal practice to better represent those in need through law.

Sharma was born in Hamilton, Ont., to two teachers from Punjab, India. Sharma and his brother loved reading books, which led to his interest in becoming a lawyer.

But that interest was dampened by his family’s past interactions with lawyers.

“My dad wanted to become a lawyer, but my grandfather was a simple farmer and I think he had some bad experiences with a lawyer who asked him to lie or something,” Sharma said.  

His father’s experiences discouraged Sharma from choosing law, and pushed him towards dentistry; however, he had a disastrous first year at the University of Alberta, scoring a GPA of 1.6, which led to him deciding to become a lawyer after all.

He got into law school in 1998 with 60 credits and a satisfactory LSAT score. After law school, he started practicing what he had learned at the Canadian Department of Justice.

It was there where he was exposed to immigration law and met fellow lawyer Bjorn Hershayi, his current firm partner.

Together in their small Kingston office, Hershayi and Sharma take on unpopular cases. Sharma believes that real law is advocating for someone and not just gaining excessive amounts of money.

Standing by this principle, Sharma represented Jackie Tran in 2009, a gang member charged with drug trafficking and assault with a weapon, prior to Tran’s deportation in 2010.

Due to the controversy of the case, Sharma gained attention from various media outlets, including the CBC and the Calgary Herald.

Sharma has always prioritized fairness both in the office and  in court. Ezenwa Echefu is one of many of his clients who has seen this personally.

Be it the fast-tracking of Echefu’s approval to attend his wife’s funeral in Nigeria or to extend his citizenship, Sharma has been the driving force behind giving his immigrant clients what they need to do what matters to them.

“The silver lining in that was that he did not charge me for that service.,” Echefu said. “I am so indebted to Raj.”

Today, Sharma and his partner Hershayi continue to represent those in need at their downtown office with over 20 employees under their wing.

msmith@cjournal.ca

Editor: Omar Subhi Omar | oomar@cjournal.ca