Gina Murray’s experience as an adult intensive care nurse helped her keep calm as she coped with the premature birth of her daughter while applying for a Supreme Court clerkship. (Photo: Richard Siemens) She didn’t know it, but Gina Murray was three days away from delivering her second child as she hustled to get her application in for a clerkship with the Supreme Court of Canada.

Then her life became even more intense.

“My daughter was premature and required an eight-week NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) stay,” said Murray, who will graduate with a law degree from the University of Alberta June 13. “I had submitted my application just before her arrival and then completed all of my writing sample editing and interview prep from the NICU.”

Murray was an adult intensive care nurse for eight and a half years before entering law school. The calm she learned during that career came in handy when her older child, a son named Norris, was born during the first semester of her second year, also prematurely. He, too, spent 10 days in the NICU. But Murray was familiar with that part of the hospital and “not too worried.”

Baby Elowyn was discharged from hospital just a few days before Murray flew to Ottawa in March for a job interview conducted by a panel of Supreme Court justices. Three days later, Murray learned she had earned a clerkship with the Hon. Russell Brown in 2020-2021—one of just 36 of the coveted one-year clerkships with the Supreme Court’s nine judges offered annually.

In several ways, Murray’s entire three years of law school were simply a dress rehearsal for the pressures she coped with during the run-up to the clerkship interview.

“It was a lot of not sleeping—about three hours a night,” she said. “It was worse than my worst days as (an ICU nurse) shift worker.”

In fact, it was that shift work that prepared her for all of it.

“I’ve been involved in situations that are life and death,” she said. “I think my past career gives me a different point of view on the world and that, coupled with […]

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