You know those famous lyrics “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” Well that’s exactly what Kelly L. Buffett discovered after leaving New Brunswick nine years ago. She really did discover there is no place like home, and has since returned to New Brunswick to set up a law practice in Fredericton.
In today’s post, we look at some of the reasons Ms. Buffett decided to return home.
ONB: You recently opened your new practice in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Tell us a bit about that.
Buffett: That is correct. I moved back to New Brunswick in the fall of 2014 and began lining up all the pieces required for opening my practice after the new year.
My practice really focuses on helping individuals and small businesses thrive. Specific areas of focus include estate planning, wrongful dismissal claims, lien applications, contract disputes, etc. I value the challenges faced by small businesses and individuals when it comes to legal issues. I want to help mitigate the challenges and risks.
ONB: You graduated from the University of New Brunswick’s Law School in 2003 and worked here in the province for a few years. What made you decide to leave New Brunswick?
Buffett: Much like any younger person recently out of school, I wanted to explore what was out there – to spread my wings and live in “the big city.” So, after a few years working here, I did just that. I moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 2006 and started practicing law there.
ONB: How long were you there and what prompted you to make your next move?
Buffett: I was in Hamilton for about four years. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.
The prompt to move to Halifax was really about family; I wanted to be closer. When I moved to Hamilton I had just one nephew and a niece on her way. My brothers’ families continued to grow and I wanted to be a part of the kids’ lives as well as be closer to my parents. What really drove that home for me was a colleague of mine. He was also from New Brunswick and his mother became quite ill. He spent a lot of time travelling back and forth and it was taxing. I thought about my own family and should something happen, I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was a plane ride or two away from home.
I still thought I wanted the bigger city feeling, but wanted to be closer to home so I decided to make the move to Halifax.
ONB: So you were a lot closer to home, but what made you make the ultimate decision to return to New Brunswick?
Buffett: I was closer. I could come home more often. However, after being there for about four years it really struck me that the reasons I left, were really the reasons I wanted to go back to New Brunswick. I thought that I was going to find something really exciting in the big city. In reality, what I really wanted was always right here at home – in New Brunswick: friendliness, a clean city, a great work-life balance, helpful and supportive people and most importantly, my family. In hindsight, I realize I always knew that I was going to come back. I always maintained my membership at the Law Society of New Brunswick.
I guess it is true that you don’t always know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. I really learned that.
ONB: So how has it been thus far – returning home that is?
Buffett: It has been wonderful, on so many levels really.
I have been soaking up all of my family first of all. My parents had all of their kids here, except me and of course all of their grandchildren, so we are complete now.
In terms of setting up my business and reconnecting with people, I have been overwhelmed and really quite humbled by the experience. I first had to go through a number of processes and steps to get my practice up and running and with that all finished I opened my office on January 23rd. Now I am marketing the business to let people know that I am here. The response I am getting has been phenomenal. I can’t tell you how many people I have run into or, who have reached out to me to offer up support.
I can honestly say that this is something unique to New Brunswick. You just don’t experience this in the much larger markets. There is a genuine interest in people here and helping you succeed. It might be that we are indeed a smaller market and we will likely run into each other more often, but this creates a unique culture of caring and it makes a difference.
ONB: What about people who might move here versus returning home, do you think that they would get the same warm welcoming?
Buffett: I do actually. While they might not have the connections, initially, of someone who grew up here, the community is really embracing. You hear all of the time about people who are willing to introduce you and connect you with other people. That just doesn’t happen in very many places.
ONB: As someone who grew up in New Brunswick, moved away and then returned, what advice would you give someone moving here?
Buffett: If you are moving back, there really is no place like home, particularly when it is New Brunswick. The first thing to do of course is to reconnect with old acquaintances. Get it out there and let them know that you are back.
If you are new to New Brunswick, it is similar advice. Get out and network. Meet people. Go to events. The great thing about living here is that you can not only smile at a person walking down the street and get a smile in return, or hello back, but you can also ask people about groups, events and clubs you should know about. The best part, they will tell you!
ONB: One final question. Do you think that New Brunswick is one of Canada’s best kept secrets?
Buffett: Absolutely! Having lived in a few places, over and above Hamilton and Halifax, I can say that we have something special. We have everything that you would want in a larger city — entertainment, culture, career options, and retail — but without the issues associated with living in larger cities.
As New Brunswickers, I would say that we are very humble. It is not in our nature to go out and brag about what we have — the quality of people and businesses. It’s just not us. This in part results in being a best kept secret.
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