Two sides of a very shiny coin
Every one of us has a couple of sides –an introvert who loves black metal music, a lover of great literature with a penchant for reality TV. At work, Jennifer Campbell can be found wrestling with the two and a half inch thick Canada Income Tax Act, but she’s hunkered down in front of the big screen for NFL football on the weekends. Two sides of the same talented woman that are reconciled easily by those who know her.
The fifth year tax law associate at Patterson Law is a busy professional but makes time to advance the profession. Jen will become Chair of the Canadian Bar Associations’ Nova Scotia Tax Section in Fall 2016 (she’s currently vice-chair), and she’s been appointed to the Canadian Tax Foundation’s Young Practitioners Steering Committee.
Jen hasn’t forgotten there can be a disconnect in the system between the practice of law and law school so she helps bridge that gap. Jen is off to Toronto this week to coach Dalhousie’s Davies Corporate Securities Law Moot team in the national competition. It’s a chance to relive a pretty good memory since Jen was part of Dalhousie’s winning team in 2011.
“In law school, you’re getting prepared to be a lawyer but you’re still disconnected from the actual practice,” Jen says. She was on the Business Law Association of Dalhousie Tax Panel for the last two years, giving students who are interested in practicing tax law access to tax lawyers who understand what a life in tax law looks like. “When we bridge the gap between law school and law practice, we create young lawyers who are more comfortable in their new roles when they start their clerk year.”
Tax law may seem a surprising choice for a woman with a background in English literature and Atlantic Canada Studies but, it turns out, deciphering the gothic prose of Nightwood and navigating the intricacies of subsection 55(2) of the Canada Income Tax Act have a lot in common. “I love tax law because it’s one big puzzle. You get to know clients and families really well, you get to know everything about a business, its objectives, and retirement objectives. And you put all those pieces together to best suit the client,” says Jen. “It’s a truly friendly, cooperative, intellectually stimulating practice.”
The Bass River native comes by her work ethic quite naturally. “My parents taught me from a young age the importance of being focused and working hard.” She also credits Kate Harris, Partner at Patterson Law, with helping her translate her personal values into her work as a tax lawyer. The gratitude and respect are mutual, since Kate characterizes Jen as a rising star in the tax field – highly intelligent, focused, practical and fun. “She’s a joy to work with and has become an indispensable part of my team. Her technical knowledge is extensive, and her work ethic is enviable.”
Paul MacNeil, CPA and Tax Partner with Belliveau Veinotte in Bridgewater works with Jen often and is struck by her ability to recall information and the way she makes that information accessible for the average person. “Tax is complicated, but Jennifer can explain it in a way that is simple and clear for clients.”
Her practice is a bustling one but, as Jen often counsels students, if half of the equation is a healthy and vibrant law practice, the other half is finding a workplace that fits you. For Jen, Patterson Law is the vibrant, family-like culture that brings out the best in her. “There’s no possessiveness or competition here. Partners give freely of their time to help work through issues and challenges. That’s really important for young lawyers.” And while Jen loves the professionalism of the firm, she also loves the down-to-earth atmosphere where hard work and laughter go hand-in-hand.
Hard work and laughter. Not so different from NFL Sunday after all.
For more on Jen's practice click HERE