‘Age is only a quantity’: At 80, this lawyer lastly returned to the occupation he liked

Mohsin Rashdi says once you’re a lawyer, you’re always a lawyer. That’s the attitude he maintained when he decided to return to school and write the bar exam in Canada after more than 30 years away from the profession in his home country.

Rashdi, 80, practised law in Pakistan for about 30 years before he decided to move to Saudi Arabia, and then immigrate to Canada with his wife and three children in 1994.

When they arrived in Ontario, Rashdi tried to find a job in a law office doing research or other work, but was unsuccessful.

“I was not able to get that kind of job, so I took up whatever became available,” he told

He said he worked a low paying office job to support the family.

“It was a job that provided me a desk and a chair, so it wasn’t that bad,” he said.

Rashdi and his wife also owned a convenience store, which she would manage during the day and he would take over in the evenings.

“It was very hard in the beginning — a difficult situation — but I guess that’s part of the bargain I would say,” he said. “Coming to Canada has many advantages so this was one thing we had to fulfill.”

He applied to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), which assesses the professional experience of foreign lawyers, and decides which courses they must take to practice law in Canada. The NCA decided he would need to take eight courses.

Rashdi’s son, Baqa Rashdi, told that at that time, the courses were too expensive, so his father put that aside and focused on supporting the family instead.

But, Mohsin Rashdi said he “loved his profession.”

“I wanted to be a lawyer and nothing else,” he explained. “My father was a lawyer, my brother was a lawyer and my son is a lawyer. It’s the only thing I had to do.”

“There’s an itch, when you’re a lawyer,” he said. “You cannot stay out of the court.”

So, after a 35-year gap; after his children were grown and he was well into his 70s, Rashdi decided to return to school and complete the eight courses.

But, Mohsin Rashdi said if it weren’t for his son, he probably wouldn’t have taken the leap.

“For young people it’s not very difficult to complete all these formalities, but in my case I had already retired, I had done everything that I could,” he said. “But this son of mine, he didn’t let me retire, he doesn’t want me to retire, he forced me to complete all these [courses],” he said with a smile. “Otherwise I wasn’t very eager to do it.”

He said he missed his law practice, but was considering returning to Pakistan to work there instead of completing the accreditation process in Canada.

Baqa Rashdi said his father was “really supportive” of his own decision to become a lawyer.

When he was studying at law school, Baqa Rashdi says his father would offer “practical advice” whenever he didn’t understand something.

“He was very supportive in the beginning of my career and throughout,” Rashdi said. “That’s why I saw the passion that he had still, and I felt that he was kind of living vicariously through me at that time, so I wanted him to be able to feel that again.”

But, Mohsin Rashdi said returning to school after 35 years was “very difficult.”

“Mentally, I was not prepared for it,” he said.

“When I opened up the book I didn’t understand anything,” he continued. “I was not in that frame of mind.”

Gradually, though, Rashdi said things became easier as he got back into the swing of things. The whole process took him around three and a half years to complete.

Rashdi was called to the bar in Ontario in August, just a few months shy of his 80th birthday — which he celebrated on Friday.

He was also called to the bar in Nova Scotia earlier this summer, though he practices in Ontario.

Despite the lengthy process his father endured to become accredited in Canada, Baqa Rashdi says he thinks the “system is working how it should at this point.”

“I do believe people need to be trained just to work in the system here,” he said. “Even though they may have knowledge somewhere else but you know our decisions, they impact people’s lives so it’s important that we know what we’re doing.”

Mohsin Rashdi agreed, saying while he wasn’t initially happy to have to take the courses in Canada, he feels they were “really necessary” and important as they allowed him to familiarize himself with the Canadian legal system.

The Rashdis now work together at Law Booth in Missisauga, where they practice criminal and family law.

But because Baqa Rashdi has been working for nearly 11 years in Canada, he’s a more senior lawyer than his father.

“To be honest, he does work like he’s 26 or 28 — he’s very good at what he does,” he said. “He is very fresh he retains everything that he’s learned which is surprising and, you know, it makes me want to work harder as well.”

Asked why he decided to practice law in Canada in his late 70s after years away from the profession, Rashdi said it’s about being a contributing member of society.

“It’s good to have retired life, but I feel personally, as long as you live you should not stop contributing towards society,” he said. “Age is just a number you should continue whatever you can do.”

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