Jim Wu


Defining what defines you


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Employment lawyer, Parkinson’s disease, Chinese, dog dad, blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and karaoke amateur – the list of characteristics and identifiers goes on and on to describe Jim Wu. Despite all this, Jim emphasizes that just because he happens to fit under several labels, doesn’t mean they are all that define him. 
 
As Jim was in the midst of applying for law school, his mother got fired from her job. With little knowledge of the different areas of practice and thinking that all lawyers knew everything, they hired a family lawyer to help. Since Jim had prior experience as an Employment Insurance (EI) adjudicator, he took it upon himself to conduct some legal research on what could be done and his due diligence impressed the family lawyer. It was this experience that put employment law on Jim’s radar.
 
A little push in the right direction goes a long way
 
Jim felt disillusioned by the legal profession early on due to a lack of mentorship. He ended up completing the Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) and his articles, then stepped away from law with the support of his parents.
 
After a year in this state of limbo, Jim’s mother questioned whether he was going to make use of his law degree. She suggested he go the self-employment route. Jim took his mother’s suggestion and started his own practice. The first four months were scary and unprofitable. Looking for advice, Jim met with Gwendoline Allison, a highly respected sole practitioner and workplace lawyer in BC. Gwendoline then recommended that he speak with another lawyer, Sara Forte.
 
Jim didn’t meet with Sara in hopes of securing a job. His motive was simple: Get ideas to improve his solo practice and get better at his craft. With essentially zero years of practice, Sara suggested that Jim gain experience at a firm to build his network. The EI knowledge he had to offer was high in demand and Sara encouraged Jim to make a pitch to the annual BC Employment Law Conference. Although he did not get selected, Jim received an invitation to present at an event held by the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia (CBABC)’s Employment Law chapter. It was around this time that Jim received a call from Sara with an opportunity he knew he couldn’t pass up.
 
That feeling of “walking on water without falling in”
 
In 2019, Jim joined Forte Law and hasn’t looked back since. This was the first job interview where he felt genuinely comfortable being himself. Jim started to build his reputation among the Bar and gained a better understanding of what being an employment lawyer entails. It isn’t a typical 9-to-5 job, but more so a project-based structure with expectations to meet targets. How much you work, how you perform, and how you organize yourself are all up to you.
 
Jim had one trial under his belt just as COVID-19 was making a surge. The silver lining of the pandemic was that he received more litigation files, which he was excited to dive headfirst into. From 2020 to 2021, he represented clients in a total of 7 trials. Aside from building relationships with opposing counsel and clients, Jim enjoys the educational aspect of trial work. He approaches his work calmly, kindly, and thoughtfully, finding satisfaction in instilling hope and smiles on his clients’ faces.
 
Education is a lifelong journey that goes beyond academics
 
Jim dedicates much of his time to extraprofessional activities near and dear to him. Jim began experiencing tremors while in law school in his early 20s. He at first attributed them to a lack of confidence, but six years later, was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. He joined the Parkinson Society British Columbia to promote awareness of Parkinson’s in young people. The adversity he’s overcome has made Jim more resilient and appreciative of everything he has accomplished to get to where he is today.
 
Jim has also recently been appointed as the 2022-2023 VP Internal for the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers British Columbia (FACL BC). He is an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the legal profession. As one of the only, if not the sole, Mandarin-speaking employment lawyers in BC, he aspires to help pave the way for others like him. Jim knows how much it would have meant to him to have someone to speak with when he started in law, thus, he is more than happy to talk to and encourage others of Asian descent who are thinking of pursuing employment law.
 
Treat people the way you want to be treated
 
In his practice and in his life outside of work, kindness and respect remain at the forefront for Jim and he encourages others to prioritize those values. Jim’s advice for new law grads is to not take yourself too seriously. It’s alright if you don’t know something. Ask questions, treat everyone well, and remember to be forgiving. You also have to look after yourself in this profession, physically and mentally. Jim accomplishes this through hikes with his long-haired German Shepherd, karaoke with friends after a long day, and jiu-jitsu practice.
 
Jim cannot stress enough that you get to choose what defines you and to not let labels put you into a box. Yes, there are many attributes to describe Jim, but his abilities as an employment lawyer are not derived from his genetic code. Rather, they are derived from his work ethic and desire to produce high quality work. If you ever doubt your abilities as a lawyer, take a minute to look back at what you have accomplished and the obstacles that you tackled to get to where you are. Like Jim, you probably have a lot to be proud of.

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