Lawyer loves residing locally, needs to continue to grow right here

‘The grass is not always greener sometimes and I’m just happy where I’m at, and I want to keep improving on that,’ says Renée Maisonneuve

After Renée Maisonneuve moved to the United States for her undergraduate studies, she knew one day she would return home to Timmins.

Maisonneuve, 25, works as an associate lawyer at Maisonneuve Dawkins firm.

Being away from home, pursuing international studies at West Virginia University while on an athletic scholarship, made her realize she wanted to settle in Timmins.

“When I first left for the university, I thought I would end up in Ottawa or Toronto,” she says. “After living in the U.S. and doing law school in Ottawa, I just had to come home.”

Maisonneuve didn’t think she would follow in her father’s footsteps who’s also a lawyer.

When she decided to come back to town and she saw all the people her father met and the ties he had in the community, she wanted to have the same one day. 

“It’s the people. I don’t know if I would’ve come back if it wasn’t for the people. My whole family is here, I have tons of friends and it’s just a great place to have a family,” she says.

Now, Maisonneuve works in the same firm as her father. She is also expecting her first child.

“I just want to keep growing here. I love working in the family business, I love working with my dad, I love my clients. I love that I’m going to raise my family here,” she says. “The grass is not always greener sometimes, and I’m just happy where I’m at, and I want to keep improving on that.”

There’s a joke in her family that Maisonneuve didn’t choose to run but running chose her.

“It’s the only sport that I could possibly do. I can’t do any sport that involves water or equipment to save my life,” she says.

She once set a national interscholastic record at the 1,500-metre steeplechase. Her record has been beaten since then, but she was happy to see it because it meant more people were getting involved in the event.

Maisonneuve likes the social aspect of running. When she goes for runs with her friends, there are no distractions and nothing to do but run and catch up.

She says she never regrets going for a run even if she didn’t feel like doing it that day. Running becomes a lifestyle, she says.

“You can’t necessarily learn to run. You just need to do it, day after day, and eventually, you’ll see results if you’re patient,” she says.

Maisonneuve also received her law degree from the University of Ottawa. During her studies, she participated in initiatives that promoted access to justice in French.

“Although Canada is a bilingual country, there’s a lack of resources or accessibility to equal the services in French,” she says.

When Maisonneuve came back to Timmins, she wanted to return to her musical roots after being involved in sports for six years. She volunteered with the local French youth choir, formed by Renelle O’Connor and Line Fogel, for a year before the pandemic hit. 

Maisonneuve has always liked music and she can play the piano. Her grandmother taught piano for over 60 years, her father can play the guitar and her sister plays the violin.

“Our family always gathers around music. Anytime someone says a sentence, it could possibly be turned into a song. It’s like a living walking musical,” she says.

Maisonneuve is also a board member of Timmins and District Hospital.

“I knew I wanted to have roots in Timmins forever. I know I’m going to have my family here, I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. And everyone that I know and care about has or will, at some point, need services from the hospital,” she says. “It just felt like something valuable to be involved with.”

As a bilingual, whose first language is French, Maisonneuve knows how another language can come in handy at her job.

“I love being able to speak to clients in French, to prepare documents in French. Our office always takes pride in being able to offer bilingual services,” she says.

Maisonneuve is also currently enrolled in a three-year In-Depth Tax Program offered by Chartered Professional Accountants Canada. While for most people it can be boring, Maisonneuve enjoys it. The courses are structured to cover a wide variety of topics, she says.

“I find it interesting. Almost everyone else is not finding it interesting,” she says laughing. “I enjoy working in that area in the law.”

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