Jason May, LLB
Lee Cohen & Associates in Halifax, Nova Scotia
As a child, Jason May used to pour over atlases. He remembers how his father, a maintenance engineer for Pacific Western Airlines, returned home from trips and put a pin in the family globe to show the city he just visited. The family would then string all the pins together and make a large ball of yarn out of the globe. Years later, when May decided to give up his life as a paramedic and enrol in university, it came as no surprise that he decided to pursue geography as a major. Now an immigration lawyer, May’s work brings him into contact with people that have to overcome incredible adversity and challenges to carve out a life for themselves in Canada.
1. Can you describe your career path since you graduated?
Once I completed my undergraduate degree in Geography at St. Mary’s University, I pursued a master’s at Wilfrid Laurier University. The focus of my thesis, which examined oil and gas development as it intersects with environmental management in the Yukon, had me research mounds of legal and regulatory materials. That naturally led me into the pursuit of law at Dalhousie University. After being called to the bar, I started working for a firm that practiced primarily business and litigation law, but they also did some immigration law on the side. The interesting people that walked through the door sparked my geographer’s soul and got me to volunteer at a local refugee
clinic. An opportunity eventually opened up at another firm and now my entire practice is immigration law.
2. What resources offered by your university helped you find a job after graduation?
A big component of law school is transitioning graduates into firms who are seeking lawyers. There are annual recruitment activities that happen on law campuses across Canada where firms are looking for summer students. That was not really how I found my position but it is a resource that is available.
3. What connection does your career have with geography?
My work is engaged in enabling the movement of people around the world. I play a very small role in that, but my duty is to help solve the legal, regulatory, technical and administrative issues that arise for people trying to migrate in our modern world. On a daily basis I have the privilege of connecting with and assisting people from a wide diversity of locations all over the planet. In addition to each person’s individual identity, migrants also carry with them a broader regional identity expressed in varying degrees through more generalized characteristics such as culture, belief, language, and physical appearance. In that sense, my career is very much about assisting the global movement of cultural geographies, and the evolution of new cultural geographical patterns.
4. Do you have any advice for students wishing to attain a fulfilling career in geography?
There are so many careers that can flow from a geography degree. If you are a geographer at heart, if you have a natural interest in the world—be it cultural geography, physical geography or geomatics—then the career will find you. If you just follow wherever your compass is pointing, it will take you somewhere.