New Beginnings: Opening an Employment and Human Rights Practice in Belleville, Ontario

Samantha Kompa

Hello residents of Belleville, Quinte West, and Kingston – we are Kompa Law, an Employment and Human Rights practice. Nice to meet you!

As I'm new to the community, I thought it would be nice to tell you a little about myself, how I got into law, and why I'm now practicing in Belleville, Ontario after years in Toronto.

Growing up, I never saw myself as a future lawyer. I did my undergraduate in International Development at the University of Guelph, and thought I'd be spending my life travelling the world in an effort to help underserved communities abroad. I only made the decision to go into law school after completing an internship in Rwanda. I had the opportunity to work with lawyers that were truly making a difference in their communities. They worked tirelessly to advocate for marginalized groups, making sure they had medical care, food, and a roof over their heads. They used the law and mediation practices to resolve conflicts between individuals and groups. They opened my eyes to a part of the law that I had never seen before. A part that wasn't about big money or the glamourized lawyers we see on TV. A part that was simply about helping people. And I was hooked.

I went to law school at the University of Ottawa. I completed numerous internships with criminal defence firms, volunteered with ACORN and LEAF, and worked in the Yukon for a consulting firm representing First Nations. 

During my time as an articling student, I worked in human rights and employment law. And once called to the bar, I continued that specialization, representing individuals wronged at work or in the community at Ross & McBride LLP.

Although Ross & McBride LLP offered me the experience and resources to do what I loved, deep down, I had developed an interest in the legal clinic system. Legal clinics share a lot of similarities with the organization I interned with in Rwanda. They focus all their energy on helping the most underserved and marginalized communities.

In 2019 I became a Staff Lawyer at Halton Community Legal Services. There, along with some wonderful colleagues, I had the opportunity to serve the community I grew up in. It was the highlight of my career up to this point. It made me a more thoughtful lawyer, and a better advocate.

Moving to Belleville...

Although we love Toronto, my partner and I had always planned to move to Belleville. My parents retired here, we know and love the area, and we hoped to raise our family here. As you can imagine, the pandemic expedited our plans. After spending March-August of 2020 living in the area, we decided to make the move permanent. That meant leaving my position at the clinic, which was not an easy decision for me. 

When I was deciding what to do next I knew a couple of things:

1) I did not want to work for a firm.
2) I wanted to continue my focus on human rights and employment law.

Introducing Kompa Law

I founded Kompa Law to do really good work on cases I believe in. To help individuals that need it, but that also don't meet the minimum criteria required to get support from the clinic system. I'm also passionate about pushing the system to better support those that are struggling within it. 

While it may have been a better business model to become a generalist and work in areas beyond employment and human rights law, that is not who I am. I only focus on employment and human rights. It's what I'm good at, what I'm passionate about, and what I enjoy doing. 

I'm excited about Kompa Law because it allows me to do what I have always wanted to do – help people – in the way I want to do it. With empathy, honesty, and collaboratively.

I also decided to expand who I represent beyond individuals to small and medium businesses, nonprofit organizations and charities. Throughout my work representing individuals I have come across a lot of good employers and organizations who are caught off guard by their legal obligations to individuals working for them, using their services, or renting accommodation from them. Proactively representing these organizations so they can know their rights and obligations and avoid expensive litigation is something I am excited to do. Also throughout my career, I have come across some unmeritorious claims against organizations. I believe that organizations deserve zealous representation in these circumstances and am happy to have the opportunity to provide that to them. 

Since moving to Belleville, I've been blown away by the welcoming nature of the community and the lawyers working here. Everyone I've spoken to has gone above and beyond to help me set up my practice. For that, I am thankful. I promise to serve the community with the same thoughtfulness and kindness I have seen here. 

Everyone always says they hope to never need a lawyer.  I hope that for you too. But, I know that life is not always so kind, or fair. Sometimes, you need a lawyer. If you're facing injustice at work or in the community, give me a call.

Even if I'm not the right lawyer for you, I'll try to steer you in the right direction to get you the help you need.