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Corporate, Immigration

Stairs focused on law, helping community

Community has always been important to Windsor corporate and immigration lawyer Laura Stairs.

An associate with Shibley Righton LLP, Stairs studied global development at Queen’s University and worked for the the Kingston Roundtable on Poverty Reduction while she lived in the city.

“I was very interested in local issues and community activism, and this was a great way to get involved and make a difference,” Stairs tells AdvocateDaily.com.

It was during that time that she first seriously considered the possibility of a legal career after working closely with a lawyer on the board of the roundtable

“I found the skills she had were particularly helpful in the work we were doing, which got me thinking that law was something I could do to have a positive impact on the community,” Stairs says.   

During a decorated spell at the University of Windsor’s law school, she received the Transnational Law and Justice Network Fellowship, allowing her to complete an extensive research project for Amnesty International focused on international criminal law, and was also awarded the Stitt Feld Handy Social Justice Fellowship, which resulted in a 10-week internship at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“South Africa is an interesting place to study law because they have a very comprehensive constitution which grants many more rights than others around the world,” Stairs explains. “The right to housing is explicitly granted and so much of my work related to constitutional cases that challenged the government to put that right into practice.”

Following her graduation in 2016, she stayed in Windsor, where local companies are now benefiting from her work.

“Windsor has a great variety of cool young businesses and I feel like the entrepreneurial scene is really thriving,” Stairs says. “It’s exciting to support that kind of work and to be able to see the impact it’s having boosting growth in our community.”  

She also developed an interest in immigration law while at school, picking up the Student’s Law Society Access to Justice Award for co-founding the Windsor Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to assist new arrivals as they adapt to their unfamiliar surroundings in Canada. At Shibley Righton, she’s added another dimension to her work in the area, acting mainly for businesses bringing in skilled foreign workers to meet labour demands.

“I do a great deal of work permits and also some family reunification and visitor visas,” Stairs adds.

She says her varied experience informs her current practice, which includes some wills and estates and real estate law, in addition to her corporate and business immigration work.

“The work I was doing before required some appreciation of the social context of the law, which is important to remember no matter what type of law you are doing,” Stairs says. “It has helped me to look at the big picture, and always be mindful of the people who are involved in what I'm doing,” Stairs says.

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