Second career: Pharmacist turns his attention to the field of law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Yan Ho Jonathan Leung’s career in pharmacy was sparked by volunteering at a hospital and supporting people with intellectual disabilities in assisted living during his high school and early undergraduate years.

“Also, I had an entrepreneurial spirit and once contemplated running my own pharmacy operation,” he says.

After graduating from pharmacy school, he launched his pharmacy career in 2012. The following year he felt a knowledge gap when it came to understanding the economics and market factors that affected the retail and pharmaceutical industry, and  went on to earn an MBA from the University of Fredericton in New Brunswick.

As a pharmacist, Leung was always interested in the drug development process.

“Also, I always wondered what occurs behind the scenes when certain innovator drugs go off-patent and generics or biosimilars enter the market,” he says. “That stimulated my interest and curiosity in intellectual property law and pharmaceutical patents—and eventually, that led me to law school.”

Leung was drawn to the Dual JD program offered by the University of Detroit Mercy and University of Windsor, because of its comparative legal education.

“Given the interconnectedness between Canada and the United States’ economy, I was really interested only in comparative legal programs that would help me become well-versed in the legal systems of both
countries,” he says.

A native of Hong Kong who immigrated to Canada at the age of 5, Leung enjoys Detroit Mercy Law’s Riverfront campus.

Along with fellow students, he has faced the challenge of pivoting to online learning during the pandemic.

After graduating in May, Leung will be articling in the Ottawa office of the Canadian law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, where he previously was a summer associate—and hopes to integrate his pharmacy and business background with his legal training to pursue a career in litigation in the IP or life sciences sphere.

In order to keep abreast with the latest treatment guidelines, pharmacotherapy options, and to maintain competency in clinical skills, Leung also continues to work as a part-time pharmacist whenever possible. 
“As a pharmacist, I most enjoy being able to work directly with patients,” he says.

“It’s always a rewarding feeling when you see that your advice, assistance, or diligence in checking a patient’s medications ends up having a positive impact on a patient’s life.”

And along with his pharmacy colleagues, during this pandemic, Leung has been performing nasal swabs and screenings for COVID-19, and vaccinating patients.

“I believe we can all do our own part to help bring this pandemic to an end,” he says. “Therefore, whenever possible, I’m more than willing to apply my skills and training to service my community.”

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