Most days, I love my job. I love being able to come into contact with people from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds, finding out about their lives and helping them to live or work or study in Canada. I love helping families to reunite here. I love the challenge of using the knowledge that I have gathered to help my clients to solve complex problems. I love the challenge of preparing witnesses to face a hearing or preparing arguments to convince a judge or officer. I love working with other immigration lawyers and paralegals who share the passions that I have and working on how to improve immigration law and procedures. Right now, I love working with the terrific team at our office because they are so smart, competent and supportive.
I arrived in Montreal as an immigrant from the U.S. when I was almost two. I have had the good fortune to be able to travel to many countries. While I LOVE to travel, I am always happy to come home. Because there is nowhere that I would rather live than where I am and it makes me happy to be a part of bringing new people to my city and adopted country.
How I got to where I am
I studied history at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota from 1980 to 1984. Carleton is a terrific liberal arts college and the professors worked us hard but also put a lot into their work and made the effort worthwhile. I feel that Carleton was a huge help in developing my ability to put myself in the place of other people (and other times), think critically and write well.
Next, I studied common law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto from 1984 to 1987. As I finished my studies, I felt strongly that I wanted to return to Montreal and that meant that I had to get a degree in civil law, which I did at McGill University from 1987-1989.
After articling with some wonderful people at a mid-sized law firm (Blakely Gascon), I began to practise immigration law on my own in 1991. In the early years (1991-1996), I did a lot of work relating to refugee law, particularly with the Bangladeshi community. That was intense work and many friendships were formed out of it.
Next, I turned to economic immigration, travelling several times a year to Bangladesh to meet clients (1996-2005) and also doing more sponsorships and work permits, all the while continuing to do litigation work at the Immigration and Refugee Board and Federal Court.
From 1998, I got very involved in l’AQAADI, the immigration lawyers association of the Barreau du Québec. I was a member of the executive of the association from 1999 until 2015 almost continuously and have served more terms as a vice-president than I can remember and two terms as president. This work provided me with a fantastic opportunity to get to know many colleagues as well as senior bureaucrats in the Federal and Quebec immigration departments as a representative of the association at liaison committee meetings.
Our field is in constant evolution and ongoing training is of supreme importance to immigration lawyers. It has been my privilege to chair AQAADI’s two-day conference in 2009. My colleagues have honored me by inviting me to speak and serve as moderator at many conferences and training sessions (at the CBA, as well as l’AQAADI). I probably learned more preparing for those sessions than did the attendees.
My work took a different direction for five years from 2010, when I joined two large immigration practises, first at Robinson Sheppard Shapiro (2010 to 2012) and then at BCF (2012-2015), giving me the opportunity to work with different sorts of clients than I had in the past, including large multi-nationals. These were tremendous learning opportunities.
I returned to private practise in 2015, determined to focus on the areas of practise where I felt lawyers could contribute the most. As I said earlier, I love my job on most days. But things don’t always work out as I would like. We deal with human decisions-makers and cumbersome, sometimes erratic, rules. There are challenges. But those just make the work more rewarding when we manage to solve the problems and help our clients navigate the sometimes stormy waters that they have to deal with.
In 2017, we were very pleased to be able to get involved in trying to get justice for applicants under the Quebec Experience Program who we believed were not be dealt with in accordance with the relevant law. We hope and believe that the situation will corrected in 2018. We will continue to look for opportunities to make a difference in making our systems work fairly.
Why you might want to work with us
We are a boutique firm, capable of bringing a lot of talent, experience and enthusiasm to bear on our work. The breadth of our practise gives us the ability to present the big picture to our clients and help them map out the best ways to achieve their goals and to understand the risks and rewards of their options. Our involvement in the consultative committees with the governments of Canada and Quebec helps us to stay on top of what lies ahead for our clients. Our approach is hands-on and we pride ourselves on spending a lot of time talking to our clients in order to best represent their cases. Our fees are fair and clearly spelled out to our clients from the outset. If we can’t offer a flat rate for the work (and we can, more often than not), we will provide the most accurate possible estimate of our fees and make sure that the client is not surprised when their bill arrives.
No single lawyer or firm will be an ideal fit for everyone but, if what I have just described appeals to you, give us a call or drop us an e-mail. We might be a great fit for you. If we aren’t, we will be more than happy to refer you to the other practitioners who we think would be best able to assist you. We are humbled by the confidence of our colleagues who refer us work and I am personally honoured by their support that they have shown in having me named to the list of Best Lawyers in Canadian Immigration Law every year since 2012.
Areas of expertise
Quebec or Canada Business Immigration
B.C.L., Civil Law, Graduated with Second Class Honour, McGill University (1989)
J.D., Juris Doctor in Common Law, York University – Osgoode Hall Law School (1987)
B.A., History, Graduated cum laude and with distinction in major, Carleton College (1984)
Honours and Distinctions
Elected as part of “Canadian Best Lawyers” for Five Consecutive Years
Served six terms as a Vice-President of the Association québécoise des avocats et avocates en droit de l’immigration (AQAADI)
Member of Canadian Bar Association
Member of Quebec Bar Association
French, English, and Bengali.
Best Lawyers Website: https://www.bestlawyers.com/lawyers/david-chalk/133685