Lee Akazaki, Marie-Claire Albanese, David Alli, Chris Beckett, Steven Benmor, Emily Chan, Celia Chandler, Kevin Cheung, Morris Chochla, Vanessa Christie, Robert Cohen Orlando Da Silva, Pascale Daigneault, Sharon Davis, Sonu Dhanju-Dhillon, Douglas Downey, Michel William Drapeau Erin Durant, David Eliot Gary Enskat, John Fagan, Lisa Feldstein, Carl Fleck, Wayne Garnons-Williams, Pascale Giguere, Kiran Gill, Anne Gottlieb, Susheel Gupta, Teri-Ellen Haddy, Omar Ha-Redeye, Tania Harper, Gary Hauser, Ryan Heighton, Andrea Hill, Chelsea Hishon, Karen Hulan, Judith Hull, Erica James, Blake Jones, Avram Joseph, Kristy Kerwin, James Kitts, Cherolyn Knapp, Andriy Lahush Katherine Laliberte, Amelie Lavictoire, Aaron Lealess Dallas Lee, David Leitch, Doug Lewis, Timothy J. Longboat Melissa Loucks, Lorin MacDonald, Svetlana MacDonald Marek Malicki, Danielle Manton, Sean McGee, Ken McNair David McRobert, Eugene Meehan, Lindsay Merrifield Loretta Merritt, Sean Miller, Jean-Francois Morin, Kristin Muszynski, Raong Phalavong,AlwynPhillips,StevePengelly rst fi e h T Jeffrey Percival, Audrey Ramsay, Jonathan Richardson 0 0 1stories Stuart Rudner, Marc Sauve, Robert Shawyer Quinn M. Ross, Marta Siemiarczuk, James Smith, Kathryn L. Smithen, Ivan Steele, Ryan Steiner, David Sterns, Colin Stevenson, Danie Strigberger, Mary-Anne Strong Andrew Sudano, Lawrence Swartz Tara Sweeney, Paul Sweeny, Robert Talach, Matthew Tevlin, Joyce Thomas, Jamie Trimble, Edwin Upenieks Marie-Andree Vermette, Aly Virani, Catherine Wilde Cheryl Williams, Todd Weiler, Nicholas Wright, Lorna Yates ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION A Branch of the CANADIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
L’ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU DE L’ONTARIO Une division de l’ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU CANADIEN
Dear Member, We are very pleased to release this compilation of the ‘First 100 Why I Went To Law School’ stories. It’s been a rewarding journey. The launch of this campaign generated significant earned media coverage at no cost to the OBA. Highlights included television interviews on CTV and CBC, and a feature story in The Globe & Mail. The paid advertising campaign continued the momentum and blanketed the province with positive messages about members of our Association and profession. The campaign was focused on encouraging lawyers to talk about the aspirational reasons they decided to enter law school and in so doing, raise the level of discussion about the profession from the source. If, in doing so, the public perception of lawyers improved even slightly, which it did, that was seen as a side benefit rather than a key objective of the campaign. We invite you to read a few of the stories compiled in this booklet. If you don’t find them both interesting and inspirational, we will be surprised. If you’re an OBA member, and you have not yet completed your own story, please take a few moments to do so at: whyiwenttolawschool.ca. Sincerely,
Paul Sweeny Past President
“L e droit m’a beaucoup appris sur l’importance de la justice, du bien publique et de la citoyenneté canadienne. ” Lee Akazaki Gilbertson Davis Emerson LLP Toronto
Comme beaucoup d’immigrés qui ont suivi une carrière professionnelle, je suis entré dans l’école de droit afin de réaliser un rêve parental. Mais peut-être pas de la façon dont vous pensez. Dans les années 1950, mon père a quitté son village de pêcheurs au Nippon, pour étudier le droit. Dans son monde, le Nippon après la Deuxième guerre mondiale, devenir avocat signifiait quitter la famille et surmonter des défis effrayants. Le cancer l’a vaincu peu de temps après ma naissance, et avant qu’il puisse être admis au barreau de Nippon. Ma mère, une Canadienne, a du revenir au pays de sa naissance après sa mort, veuve avec un enfant japonais. 17 ans plus tard, je suis entré dans la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Toronto, de continuer à gravir la montagne dès l’endroit où mon père mourut. Au cours des 25 années qui ont suivi, le droit m’a beaucoup appris sur l’importance de la justice, du bien publique et de la citoyenneté canadienne. Ce sont des valeurs et des idéaux que les autres étudiants de droit possédaient déjà avant qu’ils considèrent le droit comme leur carrière. Moi, le droit m’a aidé à devenir l’avocat que mon père rêvait d’être. Demain, j’espère d’inspirer d’autres à me suivre dans cette grande profession.
“The first time I went to law school I was 10 years old. ” The first time I went to law school I was 10 years old. No, I wasn’t the “Doogie Howser” of the legal profession, but my mother had returned to law school as a mature student and on every PD day, holiday and sick day (some real and some not so real) there I was by her side in the lecture halls, library and community legal clinic soaking it all in. Ten years later when it was time to decide what to do with my life I reflected back on that experience. What I remembered most was the way the other students accepted both my mature student mother and even her young son. I think in some ways I became the class mascot. I also remembered how they worked together as a team whether it was debating points of law in the classroom, researching the law in the library, studying for examinations, helping clients in the community legal clinic where they volunteered or playing in the soft ball league. I wanted that same sense of camaraderie and I knew I would find it at law school. Fortunately, I did. Now in my 17th year of practice I find myself working with lawyers that I went to law school with both as an adult and as a 10 year old child. Not surprisingly the bonds forged during both of my journeys through law school still remain strong today.
Chris Beckett Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
â€œWhen I was in university, I realized the law was a place where I could fight for equality. â€?
David Alli Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP Brampton
There was no drum roll when I decided, to go to Law School and become a lawyer; there was no singular sensational watershed moment. My decision was shaped by the guiding hands of my family who saw the law as the professional pinnacle, and my penchant for not accepting the status quo. The law always intrigued me. When I was in high school I realized the law was a place I could be an advocate. When I was in university, I realized the law was a place where I could fight for equality. At Osgoode, the law became more complex than I could have imagined, and I adored that. My experiences have led me to my inevitable career path as a lawyer. As the first lawyer in my family, I am now able to operate in a system that at one point seemed so distant, so unattainable. I became a lawyer to make myself and my family proud, to assist my clients through the intricacies of the system, and to preserve and promote what is just. When I was a child, I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could save the world. As a grown man, I realize my position was slightly fanciful. Nevertheless, I feel that I am now in the best position to affect positive change at the heart of society.
“La faculté de droit a été le plus beau choix de carrière. ” J’ai toujours voulu devenir avocate, mais j’y suis arrivée en faisant plusieurs détours. En effet, lorsque j’ai entrepris mes études en droit, j’avais à peine amorcé la rédaction de ma thèse de doctorat sur l’imagerie cérébrale et la mémoire de la douleur chez l’humain. J’avais donc atteint la dernière étape du long cheminement de ma maîtrise et de mon doctorat en psychologie et neurosciences au moment où je suis devenue une étudiante en première année de droit. La raison pour laquelle j’ai choisi la faculté de droit alors que j’avais une carrière en recherche déjà amorcée. À la troisième année de doctorat, j’ai participé à une conférence sur les neurosciences et le droit, durant laquelle une des présentations avait pour sujet l’utilisation et l’interprétation de résultats de tests neuropsychologiques et d’imagerie cérébrale en droit. Comme j’ai toujours été passionnée par les neurosciences et par les questions de droit de la santé, d’éthique, de propriété intellectuelle et leur impact indéniable sur la vie au quotidien de nous tous, c’est alors que j’ai décidé de poursuivre mes études en droit une fois mon doctorat terminé. Choisir la faculté de droit a été le plus beau choix de carrière que j’aurais pu faire.
Marie-Claire Albanese Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Co Toronto
“Two weeks after I decided to defer dental school, I received an offer from law school. ”
Steven Benmor Benmor Family Law Group Toronto
In 1964, my parents immigrated to Canada, desperate to overcome financial and political strife. Their struggles didn’t end upon arrival. As a child, I recall hearing them talk about their hardships and how they wished they were educated, established and held a prominent position in society. That dream could not be achieved by them, but by high school, my parents began convincing me to become a dentist. One summer I interned at a dental office, later writing the Dental Admissions Test. I was accepted. But something wasn’t right. Was I really going to spend the rest of my working life inside peoples’ mouths? I had also run sunglass kiosks on the streets. I loved dealing with people, negotiating, persuading and, in the end, making the sale. On a lark, I applied to law school. Two weeks after I decided to defer dental school, I received an offer from law school. The rest, as they say, is history. Now I help families through separation and divorce; negotiate with fellow lawyers; and in many cases, I attempt to persuade a judge with oral and written arguments. As a lawyer, I have done what my parents could not do – become educated, financially secure and hold a prominent position. I dedicate this piece to my parents who I love dearly.
“ I declared my interest in pursuing legal studies despite the “family decision” that I would become an accountant. ” My parents were newcomers to Canada, living in a northern French-speaking community and trying desperately to build a good life for themselves and their three children and re-located to Toronto when I was a young child. Despite all their socio-economic struggles, my parents consistently instilled a strong sense of workethic and the value of an education in me. In my early teens I declared my interest in pursuing legal studies despite the “family decision” that I would become an accountant. Of course my desire was based on watching various sensational shows about lawyers since I had yet to meet a real-life lawyer. I was further challenged by my shyness and the knowledge that my parents could never afford tuition for all that schooling. But I could not let go of that dream. I took many law-related courses during my undergraduate studies which affirmed my dedication to becoming a lawyer. However, with a very different reason from the glamorous-based one I held in my younger years. In the end, I went to law school so I can use that privilege and status to help others.
Emily Chan Justice for Children and Youth Toronto
“At the age of 35, I drove out of Toronto with whatever would fit in a Toyota Echo and headed west to Victoria, BC where I learned about law. ” Celia Chandler Iler Campbell LLP Toronto
Law was a mid career decision for me. I worked for seven years as a manager in the Clerk’s Department at the City of Toronto and then did a five year stint as the Director of Administration at an environmental NGO. I had never considered a career in law or even a return to school. But armed with a severance package from the City and the knowledge that every job I had ever done had some relationship to law, I thought it was time to have the tools to do the work better. And I knew that the nonprofit sector sorely needed people with legal skills. At the age of 35, I drove out of Toronto with whatever would fit in a Toyota Echo and headed west to Victoria, BC where I learned about law; saw Canada from a new perspective; and hung out on the beach! And now, eleven years later, I work in a law firm in Toronto that serves mostly non profit organizations. Our clients need practical and clear advice about how to build better communities easily and legally. The work I do makes me feel good at the end of the day — going to law school was the best choice I could have made.
“I eventually grew out of my back alley heroics. ” As a kid, I wanted to be an NHL goalie. I played hockey on back alley rinks, in -30° weather, with garbage cans as goalposts. My parents did not come to Canada for their child to be fanatically consumed by hockey. But I loved it — the cool helmets, making improbable saves, and being relied on to be the best that I could be. I eventually grew out of my back alley heroics, and into the theatre. My parents did not move to Canada for their child to be a starving artist. But I loved it — exploring the humanity of truth, justice, and righteousness, creating something from nothing, and being relied on to be the best that I could be. One summer, before considering law school, I attended a friend’s Call to the Bar. The presiding judge traced human history through accomplishments of lawyers. At every turn of history, lawyers have been at the forefront of upholding human ideals — making improbable saves, standing for something easily dismissed as nothing, and being relied on to be the best they could be. I went to law school to pursue this tradition. Garbage can goalposts, humbling works of art, and outstanding lawyers, remind me that my parents came here so that I may be relied on to be the best that I can be.
Kevin Cheung Fleck Law Sarnia
“This led me to the realization that lawyers, like engineers, were problem solvers. ”
Morris Chochla Forbes Chochla LLP Toronto
Why I Went to Law School As a young man, I loved two things: problem solving (games, puzzles) and reading about and discussing social and political issue. The problem solving led me to focus on math and science in high school and to the study of engineering at university. My interest in social and political issues led me to student politics at university. After university, I continued to engage in problem solving working as an engineer. I continued my interest in political and social issues by reading about lawyers (Clarence Darrow, John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau), legal cases (“The Steven Truscott Story”), and justice issues (the debate over the abolition of the death penalty). This led me to the realization that lawyers, like engineers, were problem solvers. Engineers engage in solving equipment/ machinery problems, whereas lawyers engage in solving social, legal, and political problems. I decided that I could become a different type of problem solver focused on solving people problems rather than equipment and machinery problems. The study of law allowed me to merge my interest in solving problems with my interest in social, political and justice issues.
“I knew that it would bring me closer to what I really wanted. ” Growing up and graduating from high school in a small town in New Brunswick... you would think that conquering law school and working at Greenspan Partners might seem like an impossible dream. However, with a family and a spouse that made me think I could achieve anything — off I went. Accepted at Osgoode Hall Law School, Aubrey (my spouse and best friend) and I moved to the big city. Law school was not always an easy place to be, but I knew that it would bring me closer to what I really wanted – more than anything I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. I wanted to help people who found themselves in some of the worst times in their lives. If only I could take away some of the stress people feel as they make their way through the criminal justice system, it would all have been worthwhile. Well, here I am and it certainly has been worthwhile. When you hear someone say, “I don’t know how I would have made it through this without you”, then you know you have made the right career choice. You are right where you belong. I certainly feel that I am where I belong. That is why I went to law school.
Vanessa Christie Greenspan Partners LLP Toronto
Robert Cohen Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP Toronto
“I ducked into a local shopping mall at Christmas to take a photo with Santa and his elves so that I would have the required picture identification to gain entry into the auditorium where we wrote the LSAT. ” To be honest, I went to law school because my roommate at Western had a nice sports car and wanted some company while he attended the LSAT course during a party-free weekend in London, Ontario. But for my roommate having said car and the fortuitous hiatus in our weekend social activities, I don’t think that I would have had the initiative to take the LSAT course and write the LSAT during that year of my undergraduate studies. In fact, I was pretty casual about the whole process of even writing the LSAT (so much so that I ducked into a local shopping mall at Christmas to take a photo with Santa and his elves so that I would have the required picture identification to gain entry into the auditorium where we wrote the LSAT; by doing so, I was able to save a few dollars on the cost of a passport photo being charged by the nearby professional photo shop and I received a free candy cane too!) Now it is almost 30 years later, and I have been engaged in the practice of law ever since. My roommate was never accepted into law school, but I owe him dearly for setting me upon this career. While the challenges of practicing law can be daunting at times, they seem to pale in comparison to the satisfaction of overcoming those challenges.
“It turned out, even though I dreaded public speaking, I was good at it. ” Looking back, it seems that I was always meant to be a trial lawyer. It wasn’t that I thought I could make a good living at it; or, that my grades were stellar; or that I even thought I had a realistic chance of getting admitted. Law wasn’t in my family. My father was a welder and my mother was a home day care provider. Neither had studied beyond high school. What’s more, I had never met, let alone known a lawyer. Yet somehow at 17, I decided I wanted to try. It turned out, even though I dreaded public speaking, I was good at it — even winning awards. My hidden talent attracted the attention of a teacher who planted the idea of law in my head. So, with mediocre grades, I decided that from that moment forward I would direct my energy to getting into law school. I got involved with student politics and used that as a platform to organize student volunteers into an organization intended to prevent impaired driving among teenagers. By the time I left high school, Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID) had spread to 20 schools. In the end, the decision to go to law school — the decision itself — changed my life. Now, after 20 years as a trial lawyer, I still have no idea what I would have done had I not made that decision.
Orlando Da Silva Ministry of Attorney General-Crown Law Office Civil Toronto
“En retrospective, on peut dire que ma vie a fait du droit un choix inevitable. ”
Pascale Daigneault Fleck Law Point Edward
Je ne viens pas d’une famille d’avocats. En fait, j’étais déjà étudiante à l’université la première fois que j’ai rencontré un diplômé de droit. Par contre j’étais très familière avec l’injustice et l’intolérance. Comme enfant d’une mère divorcée qui nous a bravement élevées, dépourvue du support, je sais ce que c’est de faire des sacrifices. Comme francophone vivant en milieu anglophone, j’ai connu la discrimination. Comme étudiante à mon compte, devant travailler pour payer mes études, en compétition avec des étudiants vivant chez leur parents, j’ai dû surmonter beaucoup de défis. Comme femme à l’école de génie, à l’époque où presque tous étaient mâles, j’ai vécu le harcèlement. Comme personne avec une condition médicale, parfois débilitante, j’ai éprouvé beaucoup de difficultés. Mais j’ai aussi bénéficié d’aide. Un coup de pouce d’un employeur qui m’a engagée malgré un manque d’expérience. De l’aide d’étrangers qui ont eu la générosité de créer des bourses d’études pour aider des étudiants comme moi. En retrospective, on peut dire que ma vie a fait du droit un choix inévitable. Mieux, ma formation juridique m’a fourni les outils nécessaires me permettant de lutter pour la justice, et d’aider mon prochain.
“The intellectual challenge of law was a ball of string to my inner curious cat. ” I knew I wanted to be a lawyer in the 9th grade. The intellectual challenge of law was a ball of string to my inner curious cat. But even more than that, from as early as I can remember, I wanted to save lives. However idealistic I may have been in my youth, I was realistic enough to know I could never be a doctor because I could not stand the sight of blood. I earned a psychology degree but that was not enough to satisfy my need to help others in a meaningful way. On further reflection, I came to the conclusion that when people have legal issues they cannot resolve, and they do not know where to turn or what to do, it affects their entire life and the lives of those around them. I knew instinctively that lawyers save lives too. I went to law school to help people through some of the most stressful and difficult times in their lives, to help them heal and move on. Now I get to do that every day, whether it is helping clients to resolve estate-related disputes or assisting them to do the planning required to give them peace of mind that their own affairs are in order. Every time I hear a client say “I feel so much better now”, I know I made the right decision. Being a lawyer is not what I do, it is who I am.
Sharon Davis Oakville
“At some point during high school I realized that I didn’t enjoy studying the life sciences. ”
Sonu Dhanju-Dhillon Torkin Manes LLP Toronto
From a young age, it was ingrained in me by my parents that I had to pursue a career in medicine. Being a lawyer was not up for discussion. However, at some point during high school I realized that I didn’t enjoy studying the life sciences. My passion was for writing, reading and for advocacy. It should have been a simple decision to become a lawyer for me, but I had to grapple with the expectations of my parents. As I matured, I made the decision that my career had to reflect my interests and strengths. Law school emerged as a suitable option. Looking back, not only was it an easy decision for me, but it was the right decision. Law school taught me a work ethic, how to think critically, to strive to live with integrity, and that with knowledge comes the power to make a difference. Every day that I work in this profession confirms to me that lawyers play a role in society that should be respected and honoured. In hindsight I can see that the expectations that had been placed on me as a child were not the shackles I had treated them as – they were just there to test my resolve, which is good practice for any good litigator.
“I planned to go into the bureaucracy to make change — to fix the system that I saw as broken. ” I’ve fought for others my whole life, but I never had any intention of being a lawyer. After I got a degree in Judicial Administration, I planned to go into the bureaucracy to make change — to fix the system that I saw as broken. But while working as a court clerk, I soon realized that I couldn’t affect the kind of change I wanted to without a law degree. I needed the credentials. So I went to law school in order to be on an equal footing with the people resisting change, so they would listen to me when I showed them a better way. Even when you are in the system it is difficult to change things for the better. It is virtually impossible for those outside the system, with no access. Somewhere along the line I fell in love with the practice of law itself. I see the opportunities for change both through advocacy and a general respect for a lawyer’s skills. Now I fix things in the system, sometimes for one person at a time, and sometimes for thousands, but almost always for those who can’t fix it themselves. So, in the end, I think I chose law school for all the right reasons. It may not always be easy, but I can tell you, in looking back, that I don’t have any regrets.
Douglas Downey Lewis Downey Tornosky Lassaline & Timpano Professional Corporation Orillia
“ Je prends maintenant part à l’évolution du système de justice militaire canadien. ”
Michel William Drapeau Drapeau Law Office Ottawa
En 1995, au lendemain d’une pleine carrière militaire, le gouvernement mobilise une Commission d’enquête sur le déploiement de nos soldats en Somalie. Elle porte sur des allégations d’inconduite, de défaillances de commandement et malformations du système de justice militaire. Animé par un désir de contribuer à cet examen qui ouvre la voie à des réformes essentielles, j’assiste aux auditions. Déçu d’entendre plusieurs de mes anciens collègues dans leurs témoignages recourir à de l’esquive, je prends part au débat public. Au fil des mois ma déception se transforme en une frustration car je réalise de plus en plus que même si la Commission réussit à mettre à nu les importantes insuffisances du système de justice militaire, je sais aussi que l’état-major continuera néanmoins à avoir mainmise sur le processus de changement. Je veux jouer un rôle au cours de cette transformation nécessaire. Je décide de suivre les traces de mon fils Daniel qui pratique déjà. J’ai 53 ans et je rentre à l’école du droit. Ma cléricature en Cour d’appel fédérale terminée et admis au Barreau, j’ouvre un cabinet boutique spécialisé dans le droit militaire. Je prends maintenant part, comme juriste, à l’évolution du système de justice militaire canadien.
“I was that kid in school that enjoyed working on difficult assignments and spent too much time reading books. ” I decided that I wanted to go to law school when I was in high school. I was that kid in school that enjoyed working on difficult assignments and spent too much time reading books. No one in my family was a lawyer but I somehow got the idea that being one would give me the opportunity to help people. Luckily, I was right. When I went to law school I thought that I would be a corporate lawyer and work in a large firm in a big city. After spending half of a summer working in corporate law, and the other half as a litigator, I changed my mind after realizing that working as a litigator would give me the opportunity to help people when they need it the most — while trying to navigate the court system. I was called to the bar in 2012 and have had the immense satisfaction of helping people solve their legal problems. Whether I act for a person who unwittingly breached Canada’s customs laws, a wrongfully dismissed employee, a corporation facing allegations of improprieties in a transaction, a professional who is alleged to have done his or her job in a substandard manner or an insurance company defending a driver in a negligence lawsuit, helping my client achieve a just result is incredibly satisfying.
Erin Durant Dooley Barristers Professional Corporation Barrie
“I wanted to be like them, to make a difference. ”
David Elliot Agro Zaffiro LLP Hamilton
It was in Grade 8 that I decided I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer. Our teacher asked us to do a project on “what you wanted to be when you grew up”. What did I want to be? What did I want to do? I looked around at the leaders in my community and my country. Who did I admire? Who was making a difference? Who was making and leaving the world a better place? I learned that most of our Prime Ministers (including the then current one) were lawyers. The Premier of Ontario was a lawyer. Many of our city councillors were lawyers, as was the chair of the Board of Education. The lawyers in my town all took leadership roles, be it in Rotary, Kiwanis or other volunteer organizations. These were all people I knew and admired. People who were giving back to their communities. People who looked beyond what benefited just themselves. People who used their special talents to make a difference. I wanted to be like them, to make a difference. And as a young lad of twelve, I decided, at that moment, that I wanted to go to law school. Since that “epiphany moment” some 40 years ago I never wavered in that decision. I went to law school and hopefully I am and will continue to “make a difference”.
“My mother decided early on that given my “big mouth” and ability to argue, that a career in law would be the thing for me. ” “My mother told me to!” Growing up as a first generation Canadian, my education and career were most important to my parents. My mother decided early on that given my “big mouth” and ability to argue, that a career in law would be the thing for me. At first, I simply accepted this goal, but as time went on, I began to understand the value of being a lawyer. First and foremost, it was always to help people. People like my parents who didn’t understand the complexities of the legal system, the rules and regulations. To help people who were vulnerable to those who understood how the system worked; and would take advantage of that. To help people who were overwhelmed with the complexity of the law, but needed to have their position advanced. As I continued my education, I also began to enjoy the intellectual stimulation that law offered. It was challenging and interesting. Not only legal conundrums, but discovering practical and efficient solutions. I have been practicing now for over 30 years, and I can truly say that almost every day is a good day at work. I love what I do. They say that if you enjoy your occupation, it is not really work. It is a wonderful “calling”, and I am glad that I listened to my mother so many years ago.
Gary Enskat Martin Sheppard Fraser LLP Niagara Falls
“I was thinking of becoming a sports broadcast journalist, like my fellow Brooklynite, Howard Cosell. ”
John Fagan Toronto
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At university in New York in the mid-1960s, I was thinking of becoming a sports broadcast journalist, like my fellow Brooklynite, Howard Cosell. The Vietnam War, though, continued to heat up. Beating the U.S. military draft became my priority. Law school would provide me with three further years of draft-deferred status. I gained entrance to law school, at NYU. Once there, I quickly took to law. Thoughts of sports broadcast journalism faded. Things continued to go from bad to worse in Vietnam. Draft deferments for law students were suddenly cancelled, when I was still in first year. I was in due course drafted, inducted into the U.S. Army, ordered to Vietnam, and an immigrant to Canada. In Canada, I was welcomed with open arms. I gained entrance to law school at the UofT. I’ve been an Ontario lawyer since 1975. My favourite part of my work has always been mentoring the new recruits, legal, paralegal, and staff. By the way, shortly after entering law, I learned that Howard Cosell had himself been a lawyer, before having become a sportscaster. I eventually met Howard (Class of 1940) at an NYU Law Reunion. What goes around, comes around, I guess.
“S tem cells, euthanasia… I loved the ethical debates that these topics ignited. ” I was always interested in bioethics – even before I heard the term. Stem cells, euthanasia… I loved the ethical debates that these topics ignited and how the outcome of such debates could so profoundly affect individuals’ lives. In grade 12 I took a law class (funny now that “the law” can be taught in a single course) and in a light bulb moment realized that practicing health law was my calling. In my law school application I commented that I wanted to offer the legal and ethical perspectives in health care decision-making. I am proud and grateful that I am on the same path I set out to follow when I was just 17 years old. I recently re-visited this very question and decided to return to where I began. In January 2013 I opened the doors to my own practice where I am now striving to accomplish these very goals. I have an interesting mix of work in both health law and other areas. My corporate and employment files reflect my upbringing in a family of entrepreneurs. And my Family Health Law™ files reflect my passion for helping others and engaging with fascinating ethical issues. To some it may be an odd mixture, but I tell people I have chosen this path because I am “a lawyer with a heart”. And that is why I went to law school.
Lisa Feldstein Lisa Feldstein Law Office Professional Corporation Markham
â€œI wanted to be there for others, as my lawyer had been there for me. â€?
Carl Fleck, Q.C. Fleck Law Point Edward
In my early teenage years, I had many dreams of one day having an important career or position in which I would be able to make a difference in peopleâ€™s lives. Then, my world was suddenly, unexpectedly brought into focus by being involved in a catastrophic car accident in which there were serious injuries to myself and others. This was a complicated accident involving intoxicated AWOL soldiers and other vehicles. My life was suddenly on hold as I struggled to learn to walk again. My parents, on my behalf, hired a lawyer, who fought a long and difficult trial with ultimate success. He was courageous, understanding and always prepared. He was the one person who made justice possible for me. The compensation he obtained assisted me in paying my university tuition. This was significant for me, as it enabled me to pursue my studies at a time when my father was on strike and unable to contribute to the cost of my education. I was the first person in my family to attend university. This life-changing event set me on a career course as a trial counsel, where I wanted to be there for others, as my lawyer had been there for me. Life has come full circle, as I have had over the last forty-five years the privilege of representing accident victims and assisting them in obtaining fair compensation, hopefully in turn enabling some of them to achieve their own individual dreams.
“I went to law school to make a significant contribution to improve the justice system for aboriginal people. ” Being a Plains Cree Indian of the Moosomin First Nation, I have witnessed that Aboriginal peoples did not feel part of the Canadian justice system – merely subject to it. I went to law school to make a significant contribution to improve the justice system for aboriginal people and to look for means of inclusion of all peoples so as to ensure confidence and trust in our justice system. Through my 22 year legal career as federal Department of Justice litigator, Registrar of both the Federal Court and the Specific Claims Tribunal as well as Tribunal Chair of the FSIN Appeal Tribunal I have always practiced law in a means that best reflects the morals, values and cultures of the people it serves while embracing the technology to assist in the timely and cost efficient resolution of cases. Now managing my own law firm, Garwill Law Professional Corporation, a boutique practice that provides Administrative law, Customs and Excise law and International Trade law representation I am very capable of realizing the client’s litigation goals in a means that is cost and time efficient as well as respectful of the corporate culture.
Wayne Garnons-Williams Garwill Law Professional Corp. Ottawa
“J ’ai décidé de rester ici même, dans ma région. ”
Pascale Giguère Le Commissariat aux langues officielles Ottawa
Le droit mène à tout. C’est ce que je me disais lorsque j’ai pris la décision de m’inscrire à la faculté de droit. Au début, il s’agissait pour moi d’un moyen d’élargir mes horizons de carrière et de me prévaloir d’une formation utile pour faire un choix de carrière éclairé par la suite. Rêvant de parcourir le monde par le biais d’une carrière dans le service diplomatique Canadien, j’ai cependant rapidement découvert que la carrière de juriste m’intéressait et j’ai décidé de rester ici même, dans ma région, à Ottawa. Ma mère m’avait toujours dit que je ferais une bonne avocate car je savais défendre mes positions avec verve et passion : c’est sans doute ce qui m’a attiré vers le monde du litige initialement. Mais j’ai ensuite découvert tout un univers dont j’ignorais l’existence : celui des droits linguistiques. C’est à partir de ce moment-là que j’ait véritablement fait mon choix de carrière. Aujourd’hui, j’œuvre exclusivement dans le domaine des droits linguistiques et je me compte très chanceuse. En plus d’un travail qui me passionne à chaque jour, j’ai comparu devant les cours de Ontario, des territoires du Nord-Ouest, et devant la Cour suprême du Canada à quelques reprises. Je suis comblée!
“Remembering the sorrow in my father’s eyes, I did not want to give up an opportunity. ” When I was in high school and university, I was unsure what career path I wanted to take. My parents had been telling me I should go to law school or medical school, but I remained uncertain. My dad came to Canada from Punjab, India in the 1970s. He came from a poor family where he was the only child out of five who was able to go to school. My dad was a student in India who dreamed of becoming a lawyer, however, due to his family’s financial situation, he had to drop out of college and immigrate to Canada for a better future. Like most immigrant families, he came to Canada with very little and had to leave his family behind. Over the years he worked hard at numerous menial labour jobs with his dream of becoming a lawyer slowly fading away. When he later had his own children, he encouraged us to work hard in school and instilled in us, the importance of education. Remembering the sorrow in my father’s eyes, I did not want to give up an opportunity. I am proud of the choice I made and appreciative of the encouragement and support that I received from my parents. Now when I look into my dad’s eyes, I can see that our dream has come true.
Kiran Gill Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP Brampton
“My parents instilled in me a love for learning, a love of justice, and a love of Canada. ”
Anne Gottlieb Toronto
I am a very proud first generation Canadian. From a very young age my parents instilled in me a love for learning, a love of justice, and a love of Canada. My father’s formal schooling was interrupted by WWII, but he was a student of life. My mother was a teacher who instilled a love for learning and for developing a curious and questioning mind. Education was a privilege, and both my brother and I knew how much it was valued. I went to Law School to give a voice to those who could not stand up for themselves. This was something I knew – as the child of immigrant parents who came to a welcoming and wonderful country, in which I had the great fortune to be born. Much of what I am, as a person, as a lawyer, an advocate and as a mediator, is the result of those early formative years, and my law career. My charity work, my work promoting diverse and inclusive environments, and my desire to champion the rights of the developmentally and physically disabled, are all possible, by virtue of holding a law degree (or 2 law degrees – in my case). It was and is my continued hope that I can make a small contribution to the society in which I am so fortunate to reside and call home.
â€œI met a number of people who were passionate about justice and who taught me that we have a great system in Canada. â€? I was 12 years old when I woke up to the phone ringing at 6:35 am. Within minutes, my father had told me and my brother that our mother was gone. Her plane had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. She was dead. The sound of pain still echoes in my head today. We soon learned that my mum, along with 328 innocent individuals, was murdered by terrorists who planted a bomb on the plane in Canada. As you can imagine, our family was devastated; my father having to become both mother and father to my brother and me, while at the same time mourning the loss of his wife. Me, I tried to understand what had happened to the closest person in my life. The last image I have of my mum is of her lying dead on an autopsy table. In the years that followed, we were forced to seek justice on behalf of our loved ones in a system that sadly ignored us and committed numerous mistakes. That being said, I met a number of people who were passionate about justice and who taught me that we have a great system in Canada. That led me down the path of wanting to be part of the justice system, to try and do my part to make our country safer and ensure that no one would have to suffer as we did.
Susheel Gupta Ottawa
â€œWhether it was performing in a dance recital or school play, I was happy and comfortable being seen and heard. â€? Teri-Ellen Haddy Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
From a very young age, I enjoyed having an audience. Whether it was performing in a dance recital or school play, I was happy and comfortable being seen and heard. I was very lucky to be raised in a city that had a performing arts school, where I was able to explore performance arts including dance, drama and music. By the time I reached university, I had given up many of the performance arts that I had enjoyed and instead was focusing on science courses. I ultimately chose to pursue a degree in Psychology, as I discovered I had a strong interest in understanding people. As I began considering a career choice, I realized that law, in particular litigation, would allow me to work with and help people and also regain the excitement and adrenaline rush of being in front of an audience in the form of a courtroom. It was the perfect balance. As a litigator, I make a tangible difference in the lives of my clients, many of whom are vulnerable, while working in a profession that is challenging, rewarding and affords me the opportunity to be on my feet presenting arguments and evidence.
“I had four previous careers before law: nuclear medicine, health administration, emergency management and public relations. ” I went to law school because I wanted to have a bigger impact on society. I had four previous careers before law: nuclear medicine, health administration, emergency management and public relations. My experiences included using innovative technology, making policy decisions on the provision of health care, assisting civilians in postdisaster zones internationally and working for a local Member of Provincial Parliament. In every field I quickly realized that the law impacted every single thing I did. On further reflection I concluded our legal system affects us from even before the time we are born until sometimes well after we are dead. I already had a relationship with the law, but going to law school was my opportunity to get to know it even better. Although my legal practice focuses on civil litigation, emphasizing on health care and the Internet, I have already used my law degree to promote access to justice. I’ve pushed hard for greater equality in our society, and I am deeply involved in the bar. My efforts were recently recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. I am still young in my legal career, and I have only started to give back to society. My law degree is what made all of this possible.
Omar Ha-Redeye Fleet Street Law Toronto
“Kids are energetic, funny, and at times can be so insightful. ”
Tania Harper Tania Harper Family Law Waterloo
It started with my love of kids. Throughout high school and university I worked summers as a camp counselor. Kids are energetic, funny, and at times can be so insightful. Part of my job was to come up with organized activities, and find ways to keep them engaged. However, unstructured play also occurred, and I found this so fascinating. I could not help notice that even the youngest ones would create a game with self-imposed, arbitrary rules and expectations. They would take turns, do imaginative play, or break into a tag game of “grounders” on the playground. The children, no matter how young they were, communicated the rules and had delightful interactions full of giggles and smiles. It was inspiring to me; they obviously recognized the need to have rules in order to function, interact in a meaningful way, and achieve more together. I wanted to be part of a profession that helped people; one that would communicate and explain rules and regulations so that social interaction would be more satisfying. During my university years, I grew more serious about finding a career that helped to solve conflict when it arose. Or in other words, a profession that would help everyone on society’s playground achieve more together.
“He convinced me to join the firm as a summer student and gopher and to assist with his investigations. ” For me, Law School was a bit of a fluke (at first). I was between first and second years at University with no thought of attending Law School and I was working at a well paying job at the local sewage treatment plant when my uncle Glenn called. He had just been discharged from the Canadian Forces and had been hired by a high profile litigation lawyer in Cambridge, Ontario, as a clerk and investigator in criminal and domestic matters. He convinced me to join the firm as a summer student and gopher and to assist with his investigations. I did and WOW, what an eye opener for a young guy. The lawyers in the firm were helpful and cordial and I realized early on that I had found my niche. The work was challenging and intriguing and I met some of my boss’s old WWII air force buddies (SCO Judges who were sitting locally like the Hon. Edson Haines and the Hon. Wm. Parker) who convinced me that law was an honourable and rewarding profession. The rest is history. After two more summers at the firm it was off to Osgoode in 1969. Regretfully my old boss died and the firm disbanded prior to my call to the Bar. But, I found other opportunities and here I am still practicing and really enjoying it 38 years later.
Gary Hauser Giffen LLP Kitchener
“I decided when I was 10 years old to abandon my dream of becoming a paleontologist (after seeing Jurassic Park). ” Ryan Heighton North York
I decided when I was 10 years old to abandon my dream of becoming a paleontologist (after seeing Jurassic Park), because I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. My goal was to help people and advocate for those that needed a voice. Somewhere along the way I was allured back into science, but two months into starting my M.Sc. in breast cancer research, I realized that I never lost the dream of being a lawyer. I came to law school to better society. I wanted to help those that were marginalized and needed a voice. Coming from a family without an abundance of money myself, I wanted to put myself in a position to be able to help those in financial as well as social need. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my first two years of law school working with street-involved and homeless individuals, often advocating for them in provincial trial and appeal court. This has only increased my passion that brought me to law school. I’m now more certain than ever that I want to be a criminal defence lawyer and will spend my career fighting for human rights, ensuring that the integrity of the criminal justice system is preserved. Law school has enhanced my awareness of the need for social justice, and I’m thankful for that.
“High school math and science frustrated me because you weren’t supposed to ask why. ” I hadn’t intended to become a lawyer. Both of my parents were scientists and I was very familiar with their world. But, I soon realized that their career path was not for me. High school math and science frustrated me because you weren’t supposed to ask why NaCl was always sodium chloride or why a2 plus b2 was always c2. I was not satisfied with hearing “it just is”. After university, I found myself working as a legislative assistant to two members of the U.S. Congress and then as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. The rules, it turned out, were of our making. An idea, once it passed through the legislative process, became law. And, if that law wasn’t fair, or right, it could be changed or interpreted in a way that was fair or just. The next step — law school — was obvious. I found a place for those who asked why. As a litigator, I no longer lobby against censorship or discrimination but I do explain the law to my clients (including helping them to understand why), I advocate why the law should be interpreted to support their case, and I help them navigate the litigation process so that their matter can be heard as fairly and as quickly as possible.
Andrea Hill Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP Hamilton
â€œI was interested in helping others and I particularly enjoyed working with children. â€?
Chelsea Hishon Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
I started my career in social services. I was interested in helping others and I particularly enjoyed working with children. I always saw them to be one of the most vulnerable populations, completely dependent on others to provide for their basic needs and protection. I first worked as a Child and Youth Worker, assisting youth who suffered from both behavioural and developmental disorders. After two years I was managing a small residential treatment facility for children. I learned an exceptional amount during these years but was left feeling unsatisfied. I continued to be frustrated by my inability to change so many of the problems I encountered within the system and to be able to effectively advocate on behalf of the children I worked with. It was then that I decided to return to school and become a lawyer. My law school education has given me the tools I need to help those achieve the justice they deserve. Now I spend my days helping survivors of sexual abuse hold those accountable for the harm that has come to them. I serve a population that is seriously disadvantaged by no fault of their own. While I didnâ€™t grow up knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer, I am certain that is the best job for me.
â€œI was intrigued enough by the prospect of having that opportunity again. â€? Law is my second career. I enjoyed working as a teacher but it was when I visited a friend one weekend from my undergraduate days that I decided to change career paths. She was in law school at the time and convinced me that law school would allow me to discuss and debate ideas that we had spent much of our time engaged in inside and outside of Political Science classes in our earlier years. I was intrigued enough by the prospect of having that opportunity again that I made the application and started law school within the year. I appreciated the privilege (and luxury) of returning to three more years of full-time study with classmates and professors from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. While I was initially attracted to law for mostly academic reasons, it is the practical aspect of what I learned about law, and continue to learn, that I really appreciate. I practice personal injury law. I work with regular people who have jobs, families and responsibilities but who are suddenly in difficult circumstances and need help. Having the legal tools to assist them through the insurance and legal systems brings me a great deal of satisfaction.
Karen Hulan Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
“My desire to go to law school started simply with my childhood love of books and my desire to tell stories. ”
Judith Hull Judith Hull & Associates London
I grew up in Byron, a sleepy, safe neighbourhood of London, Ontario. No one in my family was a lawyer, and as far as I knew, no one in my family ever needed one. Instead, my desire to go to law school started simply with my childhood love of books and my desire to tell stories. As I entered my teens, I saw the fictional portrayal of lawyers in film and television; those clever individuals surrounded by huge bookcases filled with elegant, matching legal tomes. But looking deeper, I saw that the best of these heroes and heroines were able to distill the complicated facts of their cases into passionate stories about their clients’ struggles. The art of storytelling would win the day. This was more than enough to pique my interest in law. Then as I finished my undergraduate degree, I experienced firsthand that harm comes to people when and in ways that they least expect it. As a survivor, I learned that having a strong advocate in your corner – one who can tell the story of harm and survival with compassion – is essential. And so, I commenced on my path of becoming a lawyer so that I too could advocate for people who’ve been harmed, by telling their inspiring stories of survival.
“I was ready for a new challenge. Nudged by a friend, I took the LSAT on a whim. ” Law School was not in my plans when I considered making a career change. As an Occupational Therapist, I had qualified and worked in the U.K., the U.S., and Canada. I enjoyed the creativity required to enable individuals with multiple disabilities to maximize functional ability. Nonetheless, I was ready for a new challenge. Nudged by a friend, I took the LSAT on a whim, and applied to law school. I was surprised to be accepted at Osgoode! Competing with outstanding fellow candidates was tough. I benefitted from the practical programs which provided opportunities to volunteer in courts and clinics. These showed me that lawyers also find ways to help. As a lawyer now, I appreciate that I can continue to think creatively. I apply a different knowledge base — this time legal principles and tools to improve the lives of my clients. I like to believe that my previous career path gives me some enhanced appreciation of the multitude of challenges faced by clients. People often comment about my career switch as a dramatic career change. However, I see myself as using a different toolbox to find creative ways to assist my clients to address life’s challenges and to make improvements. I found that law is also a “helping profession”.
Erica James Erica L. James Toronto
â€œI was missing the opportunity to contribute to my society. â€?
Blake Jones London
Going to law school was the achievement of a long standing goal. Early on in my life I decided there were two career options for me: pilot or lawyer. At the time, I knew little of either profession; I had never met a lawyer or a pilot. In high school both professions seemed just a little out of reach and like a lot of people I knew I began working in construction. Although to this day I love working with my hands, I knew the industry was not right for me. I was missing something. I was missing the opportunity to contribute to my society to the best of my abilities. So, after a lot of thought and putting the idea of being a pilot behind me, I began to focus all my efforts on becoming a lawyer. Now, just at the beginning of my career, I am certain I made the right choice. My legal education has shown me the power of persuasion, reason and advocacy. I am proud to associate myself with a profession that has worked tirelessly to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect. For me, law school has provided the tools I need to make a valuable contribution to my society every day.
“High school teaching was my original calling and it seemed a daunting enough challenge. ” I wasn’t supposed to attend law school. High school teaching was my original calling and it seemed a daunting enough challenge to face a lifetime in the classroom fighting for young minds that the thought of life in the Courtroom was better left to books, movies and TV. Then I noticed that what my students (and their parents) wanted most was to get some assistance with their “problems.” It wasn’t just a teacher they wanted, it was help navigating the difficulties, challenges and even misfortunes that arose in the pursuit and connections of everyday life. They wanted a life coach with the ability to navigate complex bureaucratic systems. I started helping out my students and their families with the issues beyond curriculum that teachers continue to deal with every day: separating families, child protection authorities, psychological and social work, government bureaucracies and rights issues. Eventually it came to be that it was noticed I was spending more time on “problem solving” than on lesson planning! Those around me helped me to see that I could expand and increase my role by taking up the study and practice of law. Now I combine teaching and law in the pursuit of solving the various “life” problems of my clients.
Avram Joseph Richmond Hill
“I wanted to continue my lifelong dedication to helping others. ”
Kristy Kerwin Fleck Law Point Edward (Sarnia)
Growing up in a family of nurses and other medical professionals, it was always instilled in me the importance of helping others. Throughout my education, I was always actively involved in my community, finding different ways to reach out and help others. It was rewarding to me. Upon entering university, when it came time to select my career path, I knew that I wanted to continue my lifelong dedication to helping others. It was upon meeting other lawyers, who had a similar passion for helping others, that I discovered the ability to use the law to further this endeavour. Throughout law school, I continued this passion, honing my skills in my school’s law clinic, continuing my pursuit of helping others. I believe that my passion for people has afforded me the ability to continue helping those who need it most. Today, I have the honour of helping people involved in motor vehicle collisions and other personal injury accidents with accessing the law and ensuring they have what they need to move forward. It is truly rewarding to be able to come into their lives at such a difficult time and be able to provide them with hope and peace of mind for their future.
“Nothing compared to my passion for playing hockey. ” When I was an undergraduate student, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. My true passion at that time was hockey, and only hockey. In fact, I played so much hockey that my father refers to my undergraduate degree as my “pre-NHL” degree. After I finished my undergraduate program, I worked as a train conductor, a restaurant manager, and as a marketing representative. Although these careers were interesting in their own ways, I knew that I wasn’t completely fixated on them; nothing compared to my passion for playing hockey. I eventually sought counsel from a friend who was, at that time, the Assistant Dean at Rotman School of Management. His advice was that I should apply to Rotman, but that I would first need to redo one year of my undergraduate program to increase my overall grade point average. One of the classes I selected during my one-year-return to undergrad was an introductory law class. While in that class, I found myself reading more of my textbook than I was assigned simply because I became very interested in the study of law. Finally I had found something that I could put my whole heart into, something that compared to my passion of hockey. I applied to law school at once and I have never looked back.
James Kitts Toronto
“I cannot imagine now that there was a time I was not a lawyer. ”
Cherolyn Knapp Nelson, Watson LLP Guelph
In grade 9 we had to spend a day shadowing an adult in the community. I spent the day with a lawyer. I remember the inside of his office – stacks of files and paper. I sat in the back of the courtroom and watched him. He admitted it was not very exciting but I admired his understated confidence. Another lawyer, my parents’ friend, discouraged me from becoming a lawyer – he spoke of the drudgery, the problems, the hard work. After university I felt adrift. I gained work and life experience for five years but did not know what to do next. I wanted a challenge but lacked confidence. I had strong social justice ideals and wanted to make a difference in society and help real people. By my late 20’s, with the encouragement of an uncle who wanted to see me find focus, I decided to apply to law school. My husband-to-be and I left Guelph and moved to Ottawa, where I became a lawyer and practiced for several years before returning to Guelph. The world opened up wide for me in law school. I gained confidence and acquired the building blocks to be a trusted advisor, legal expert, helper, strategist and advocate. I help real people every day. I cannot imagine now that there was a time I was not a lawyer. It is in me and who I am.
â€œUpon immigrating to Canada from the ex-Soviet Union, I experienced something different and largely new. â€? Upon immigrating to Canada from the ex-Soviet Union, I experienced something different and largely new: the public trusting branches of its government and holding dignified expectations that the public bodies will deliver and work for them. These experiences and interests are currently cultivating through my legal education and I hope that they will blossom into a successful, rewarding, and productive career. Ultimately, I expect that my skills, efforts, dedication, and hard work will find value in a fair, trustworthy, and just society. Such society is bound to continue serving as an example to those parts of the world, where members of the legal profession are unable to feel pride in contributing to the rule of law and be agents of a fair and civil society, but work in an arbitrary corrupt environment. In such situations, choosing a career in law would not be an attractive option for me and, as I imagine, for much of the other members of the Canadian bar.
Andriy Lahush Toronto
“J ’ai vite trouvé que celle-ci n’offre pas de solutions, par contre le droit enseigne comment les trouver. ” Katherine Laliberte Torkin Manes LLP Toronto
Mon père est avocat et il a surtout fait carrière au service de l’état de Connecticut. Il a travaillé dur et j’ai grandi sachant qu’ainsi, il a donné voix aux résidents des foyers de groupe et à leurs familles; il leur a donné les outils pour trouver des solutions aux problèmes compliqués auxquels ils faisaient face. Les jours difficiles, il me regardait et disait, « Ne choisis jamais le droit. » Je savais qu’il n’était pas sérieux mais j’ai envisagé être botaniste, biologiste marin, pilote de chasse, professeur de français, journaliste et écrivaine de scénarios avant de penser même à la faculté de droit. J’étais en train d’immigrer au Canada, en aidant mon mari à ouvrir un restaurant et essayant de vendre un scénario, je me suis rendu compte que le droit se trouve partout. Tout ce qu’on faisait présentait une nouvelle question légale. J’ai pensé que peut-être la faculté de droit était la solution. J’ai vite trouvé que celleci n’offre pas de solutions, par contre le droit enseigne comment les trouver. Peu importe la direction éventuelle de ma carrière, je sais que je développe les outils qui vont m’équiper pour trouver des solutions et mieux servir ceux qui vont s’adresser à moi – j’espère, juste un peu comme l’a fait mon père.
“J’ai été sensible aux injustices dont j’étais témoin dans ma communauté. ” Je ne suis pas de celles qui ont toujours rêvé de devenir avocate. Je souhaitais seulement une carrier motivante qui me permettrait de contribuer à ma communauté. Et je l’ai trouvée ! Je suis originaire d’une petite ville francophone du nord de l’Ontario. Très jeune, j’ai été sensible aux injustices dont j’étais témoin dans ma communauté, à l’absence de moyens efficaces pour régler les inégalités sociales et économiques, de même qu’à un certain manque de volonté pour effectuer de réels changements. J’ai eu la chance d’avoir dans ma famille des personnes qui m’ont servi de modèles d’engagement social. Ces personnes menaient par l’exemple. Elles ont effectué des changements lents et progressifs, grâce à leur engagement communautaire. Malgré leurs qualités de chef, elles passaient souvent inaperçues. Avec elles, j’ai vite compris l’importance du leadership. L’importance, non seulement de revendiquer le changement, mais également de prendre moi-même des mesures pour favoriser la réalisation d’un progrès réel. Une carrière en droit m’a semblé le choix logique. La pratique du droit semblait m’offrir l’occasion parfaite d’avoir un travail qui me stimulerait intellectuellement et qui me permettrait d’acquérir les connaissances necessaires pour venir en aide à ma communauté. Je n’ai jamais regretté mon choix!
Amélie Lavictoire Cour suprême du Canada
â€œWhen I applied to law school, I was a navy officer living on a ship on the west coast. â€?
Aaron Lealess Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
When I applied to law school, I was a navy officer living on a ship on the west coast. My location ranged from Alaska to Mexico to Panama. I attended law school with the goal of landing a stable job at a fixed location that would allow me to sleep in a bunk wider than two feet that did not rock back and forth with every wave. I graduated from law school in 2008 and quickly learned that this job was anything but stable and the location was anything but fixed. My legal practice has focused on representing victims of sexual abuse and other crimes. This challenging and rewarding work has taken me from British Columbia to Nova Scotia allowing me to meet and represent hundreds of brave survivors and assist them in their pursuits of justice. This often involves traveling back in time by speaking with witnesses and obtaining secret documents regarding past decades to uncover the truth. I am fine with not achieving my original goal of landing a stable job at a fixed location because I now have an exciting career and, of course, a stable bed that is wider than two feet.
“Intrigued by the justice system and the potential for courtroom drama and surprise witnesses and “You can’t handle the truth!” type moments. ” I have to admit that I went to law school not knowing if I had any interest in ultimately practicing law. I think most people have at least a passing curiosity in the law and I, for one, knew years earlier that I was at least intrigued by the justice system and the potential for courtroom drama and surprise witnesses and “You can’t handle the truth!” type moments. But to be honest, I applied to law school primarily because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had done well in earning my first degree and wrote the Law School Admission Test partly because I was curious to see how well I could do but also partly because a good friend was writing it and I couldn’t refuse a little bit of friendly competition when he challenged me to join him. That process got me thinking more and more about the usefulness of a law degree and so I decided to at least give it a shot. In the end, what surprised me more than the diversity of the law or the complexity of the issues or the always changing legal landscape was my genuine passion for all of it. I had an inkling prior to law school that I might be well-suited to lawyering. Once I started down that road, however, it became clear that I was right where I was supposed to be.
Dallas Lee Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
“Des minorités, francophone ou autochtones, cela me plaît. ”
David Leitch Toronto
J’ai grandi dans une banlieue torontoise pendant les années 50 et 60, avant que la diaspora multiculturelle arrive en ville. Adolescent, je voulais m’échapper de cette monoculture dans laquelle j’avais un peu trop mariné. Le français m’a ensorcelé (ok, par la même occasion, une belle québécoise). Je travaillais longtemps dans les cliniques juridiques car je voulais changer le monde mais non, les avocats changent très peu le monde. Déçu? Oui, bien sûr, sauf que je suis toujours avec ma belle québécoise et j’ai la chance de travailler pour les autochtones, encore loin de la banlieue de mon enfance et plus proche des injustices que je rêvais corriger. N’ayant étés quasiment non-existent quand j’ai fait mes études de droit dans les années 70, le droit des autochtones est en ébullition à partir de l’arrêt de la Cour suprême dans l’affaire Calder en 1973. Je n’arrive pas sur ces entrefaites mais 35 ans plus tard. Pas grave, il reste toujours bien des questions à trancher, souvent devant la Cour suprême. Défendre des minorités, francophone ou autochtones, cela me plaît, me permettant de bien savourer les différences culturelles et linguistiques de notre propre pays, souvent méconnues et mal-aimées!
“I began to realize that maybe accounting wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. ” I went directly from high school to article for my father in a small firm of CAs. At 24 I was about to graduate as a CA when I began to realize that maybe accounting wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The lawyers I dealt with as a CA student didn’t seem to know a great deal about accounting and business. There was a definite potential for a career combining the legal and accounting professions. I was beginning to volunteer in community associations and I realized that many community leaders were lawyers. I went on to practice law in Orillia as a solicitor in a small firm. There were countless opportunities for community service. I entered politics and my legal skills and community service helped me get elected and deal with issues in a dispassionate manner. Eventually I became AG of Canada and Min. of Justice and then Solicitor General. My legal training was invaluable in both positions. I am proud to be a lawyer. Our profession makes a valuable contribution to Canada, at all levels. Remember, when Shakespeare used the phrase: “First, let’s kill all the lawyers” it was an acknowledgement that lawyers are the first and finest defenders of the principles of democracy.
Doug Lewis, P.C. Lewis Downey Tornosky Lassaline & Timpano Professional Corporation Orillia
“It is my hopes to combine both my passion for music and my skills in law. ”
Dr. Timothy J. Longboat Ohsweken
While in high school, I was under the assumption that I would become a lawyer — that’s what my Dad always wanted me to be. Then I heard a jazz big band play a high school concert and was blown away by the music’s beauty and emotion, and decided I wanted to be a musician. I then went on to study Music Composition at both the university undergraduate and graduate levels. While in those programs, there was always a Faculty of Law residing beside the Faculty of Music buildings. I used to wonder what that career option would have led to and was always interested to speak to the students who seemed of a different sort. After many years of struggle in the music field, I decided to apply to law school out of a whim and to my surprise I was accepted at the top 3 law schools in Canada! It is my hopes to combine both my passion for music and my skills in law and be able to work with musicians and other artists in their creative and legal endeavours. The best part of my choice is that I have found it invaluable to know one’s rights. Laws affect all of us daily in every facet of our lives. Legal knowledge is empowerment and I am now able to guide myself and others in various situations while continuing to compose music with some determination!
“A family friend who is a lawyer suggested that I consider law school. ” While finishing my undergraduate degree in international business, a family friend who is a lawyer suggested that I consider law school. I met with her and asked what she enjoyed about the practice of law. Her answer surprised me. She explained to me that for her, the law is a field for creative thinkers and problem solvers and that great lawyers figure out how to accomplish their clients’ goals. I hadn’t thought about the legal profession like this before. In law school one of my professors echoed this line of thinking when he said that it is so easy for lawyers to say ‘no’ to a client – “no, your idea isn’t possible”, “no we can’t structure a deal that way” and how this is unrealistic and unhelpful for business owners. My professor then went on to say that the key is instead to think of how to say ‘yes’ and make something work within the parameters of the law. This perspective has stuck with me. Today I work with owner operated businesses and the myriad of challenges they face from tax planning to tenants. I went to law school to help people turn their goals into reality.
Melissa Loucks Polishuk, Camman & Steele London
â€œI knew I would be more influential if I had a full understanding of the legislation driving social change. â€? Lorin MacDonald Toronto
After years of frustration as an Executive Director for various non-profits due to my inability to effect social change, I believed a legal education would enable me to do just that. An active volunteer for over 20 years in the areas of disability and accessibility, I knew I would be more influential if I had a full understanding of the legislation driving social change. As a woman living with a profound hearing loss, I also knew that my standing as a lawyer would accord me respect and provide me with a voice that would be heard. In my first week, I invited my new classmates to attend a forum I organized to influence the provincial government to pass stronger disability legislation. Throughout law school, I was encouraged by my Dean and professors to continue my advocacy work on behalf of people with disabilities. My legal training in human rights and oral and written advocacy informs my work today. No matter where I work, I know that my legal education will always prove invaluable as I forward the accessibility agenda to make our province and country better for ALL citizens. And THAT is why I went to law school.
“When life gave me lemons, I made lemonade. ” “When life gave me lemons, I made lemonade.” My career had come to a grinding halt (despite having three university degrees) and my husband advised me to go to law school. I was reluctant to go back to school for yet another degree when I was likely to be older than many of the instructors. However, I decided to apply thinking that if I were accepted, it was a sign that I was meant to go into law. So, I wrote the LSAT and applied to The University of Western Ontario where I was immediately admitted into the program. As soon as I started law school I knew I was in the right place. I was fascinated by all that I was learning and I met wonderful classmates from diverse backgrounds with whom I formed close ties. The law covers every aspect of life from the cradle to the grave and I knew that as a lawyer I would be able to use my education and skills not only to earn a living but also to help others and to enjoy the intellectual challenges that practicing law brings. After more than 25 years of practicing law; I’m very happy to say I now know that to be true!
Svetlana MacDonald MacDonald, Evenden London
“I greatly admired my father, his vision, purpose and caring nature. I wanted to help him. ”
Marek Malicki Malicki & Malicki Barristers & Solicitors Mississauga
“My father, Stefan A. Malicki b.1913 was an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeal in Poznan, Poland from 1938. He was mobilized as an officer at the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland and escaped to Great Britain when the Soviets invaded. There he joined the Second Polish Parachute Brigade. During the war he worked with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Polish Combatants’ Association in England. In 1951 he immigrated to Canada, went back to law school, graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in 1959 at the age of 46. He worked as a sole practitioner assisting new immigrants in understanding and navigating through Ontario’s legal system in their language. He became a leader in many community organizations. I greatly admired my father, his vision, purpose and caring nature. I wanted to help him. I also wanted to be in a profession where I was dealing with the real world and real people, where I could try to effect change. I completed my legal education as soon as possible. At 24 I graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School was called to the Bar in 1973 and joined my father’s practice as Malicki & Malicki.
“J’ai toujours voulu travailler directement avec et pour les gens de ma communauté. ” C’est à l’adolescence que la carrière d’avocate a commencé à m’interpeller. Étant la fille d’un avocat qui a ensuite été nommé juge, j’étais convaincue qu’une formation en droit me permettrait de contribuer, de façon positive et efficace, à ma communauté. Mes années au programme français de la faculté de droit m’ont permis de réaliser à quel point les juristes francophones peuvent avoir un impact positif sur la communauté minoritaire linguistique. Dès ma sortie de la faculté, diverses portes se sont ouvertes à moi. J’ai vite réalisé à quel point ma formation était polyvalente et me permettrait de travailler dans le domaine de mon choix. J’ai toujours été une passionnée de l’éducation et des questions de justice sociale. J’ai toujours voulu travailler directement avec et pour les gens de ma communauté. Mon temps à la faculté et mon parcours professionnel ont confirmé cet intérêt, m’ont permis de comprendre les nombreuses options de travail à ma disposition et m’ont donné la capacité de contribuer à l’amélioration de l’accès à la justice et de notre système de justice. Plusieurs années plus tard, je reste persuadée que la faculté de droit n’a eu que des retombées positives pour moi.
Danielle Manton Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario Ottawa
“We were trying to solve problems – sometimes the world’s, sometimes our own. ”
Sean McGee Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP Ottawa
I would like to say that I always wanted to be a lawyer, but I can’t. Going to law school was more of an evolution for me than a decision. As early as high school, my friends and I would get together for discussions late into the night. Many were heated and involved social justice issues. We were trying to solve problems — sometimes the world’s, sometimes our own. It can be easy to complain, but it is often hard to actually help. Law school offered me the possibility, but no guarantee, that I might make a difference. I hoped that being a lawyer might provide the tools needed to help find solutions to conflict, and to help defend and advance people’s rights — particularly when they were unable to do so for themselves. I consider myself fortunate that a long practice in labour law has let me offer help to people in need and in crisis. I have often said to others, and I tell myself regularly, that I am privileged to have known my clients and, hopefully, to have helped them resolve their difficulties. I went to law school hoping I might be able to make a positive contribution to people’s lives. I will eventually judge my professional career on whether I have lived up to the opportunity that law school offered me.
â€œI also saw the satisfaction of a challenging job done well. â€? When I was a kid, my dad told me not to be a lawyer, and not to be a goalie. He knew the pitfalls of bothâ€” high stress, aggressive adversaries, and a lot of blame when things get past you. I valued his advice, so I played right wing. But when an undergraduate political science professor asked how many of her students intended to proceed to law school, I raised my hand along with nearly everyone else. I had seen firsthand the stress, long hours, frantic preparations, and late-night calls from clients. But, more importantly, I also saw the satisfaction of a challenging job done well. When it came time for me to pick a career, I had no clear idea of what path I would take, but I knew that I would never regret law school. Nothing else sounded as appealing as becoming an officer of the law. Lawyers keep people from falling through the cracks, finding the truth of a matter armed only with facts and reason. It is a great responsibility accepted by a distinguished group. I went to law school to join that group. Even if I had chosen not to enter practice, I would have benefited from the experience of law school and the doors that it opens. As to the path not taken, I would never have made it as a goalie anyway.
Ken McNair Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
â€œI decided to put my science and biology training to use. â€?
David McRobert Peterborough
I was fortunate to grow up in a home where environmental protection was recognized as an extremely important value. I had some experiences such as working in James Bay in 1976 that convinced me environmental issues were profoundly political and natural resources management decisions often had massive negative impacts on aboriginal peoples. I quickly learned in my work with aboriginal peoples that most lawyers had no understanding of the values held by aboriginal peoples, or the science of protecting wildlife habitat. I decided to try to change this by becoming a lawyer. In 1978 I met Justice Tom Berger (who headed the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, 1974-77) at Trent University and he encouraged me to study law. Berger became, and remains, a mentor and a hero for me. In 1981 I struggled with the choice between medical school and law school after I was accepted to a number of medical schools. Ultimately I decided to put my science and biology training to use helping residents fight for environmental justice by attending law school. I focused on studying environmental law, social justice, and aboriginal rights, and this positioned me well for some excellent opportunities in the 1990s. Looking back I have no regrets.
“I saw a fire truck racing to put out fires—so I wanted to be one of those. I thought that’s what lawyers did—raced to help people put out fires. ” When I was a kid growing up in Scotland, now and then I saw a fire truck racing to put out fires—so I wanted to be one of those (a firefighter, not a fire truck). Being a kid I was small and scrawny. When I grew up I was still small and scrawny. Firefighting was out, so I went to university. But I didn’t give up on saving people from fires. I thought that’s what lawyers did—raced to help people put out fires—only now it would be figuratively. In my day job, as a partner at Supreme Advocacy LLP, I do exactly what I imagined lawyers did for clients— put out fires—particularly at the Supreme Court. When someone comes to me (as lawyer or as client) with their legal problem, I can see that it often consumes their entire life—and (frankly) when their problem gets to the country’s highest court, that’s a big problem. I do absolutely everything I strategically can to extinguish the problem. I also see other lawyers strive mightily for their clients, and the image that still comes to mind is that we are all, in a way, racing around to help people who feel that their lives are burning down around them. Maybe, sometimes, a small and scrawny kid can become a firefighter…
Eugene Meehan, Q.C. Supreme Advocacy LLP Ottawa
“I knew I wanted to assist others when, for whatever reason, they were unable to help themselves. ”
Lindsay Merrifield Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Angela Bower from “Who’s the Boss?” Angela owned a business; she was successful; and she had those cool red glasses. Then I figured out what advertising was and thought, “There’s no way I want to make a living selling things to people.” I wanted a job where I was challenged in my work and also, at the end of the day, personally fulfilled. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to assist others when, for whatever reason, they were unable to help themselves. I studied English and Women’s Studies in my undergrad and then again in graduate school. Both subjects gave me a deeper understanding of the political and social forces that shape our world, but I needed a tangible way to apply my reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. For me, law school was the way to do this. My daughter describes my job as, “helping people when bad things happen to them.” I believe this is an accurate description of my profession. I value the trust our clients place in us and work hard to maintain that trust. I’ve only just started my law career, and while my idealism has cooled somewhat, it still remains. Working with clients and making what difference I can in their lives is the best part of my job.
“I wanted to help people and have a career that was interesting, challenging and meaningful to me. ” For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to help people and have a career that was interesting, challenging and meaningful to me. I was very excited about going to law school. I worked hard and I had fun. I learned how to think like a lawyer. I really enjoyed my years in law school and I made life-long friends there. I was fortunate to find my current firm Torkin Manes as soon as I graduated in 1985. I can’t imagine working anywhere else. My law practice is civil sexual assault which means I represent people who were sexually abused. Mostly I represent adults who were sexually abused as children and I also represent some children. I sue pedophiles and institutions. This work is challenging and very meaningful to me. My clients are looking to stand up for themselves and to hold people to account. They want empowerment, healing, justice and closure. I can help get funds needed for therapy, or to continue an interrupted education. It is a privilege to make a difference in people’s lives. I can honestly say that most days I’m excited to go to work and this makes me feel lucky. I’m not sure that would be the case if I didn’t go to law school.
Loretta Merritt Torkin Manes LLP Toronto
“I learned that persuasion required much more than gimmickry; it required combining logic with the art of story-telling. ” Sean Miller Wallace Smith LLP London
Looking back at my youth, I never once thought I would become a lawyer. Although the practice of law ran in my family, I always saw myself as a bit of a businessman – not someone cut out to be in a courtroom. In high school I thought I would get a commerce degree, and end up working in marketing. I felt I had a knack for persuasion, with little understanding of what it actually meant to persuade. It turned out I didn’t much like business school, but loved the debates in my political science, philosophy and economics courses. It was in those courses that I learned that persuasion required much more than gimmickry; it required combining logic with the art of story-telling. I began to think that instead of marketing, I could practice law and persuade others of a particular point or view. So, I went off to law school where I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering at Legal Aid, and participating in moot court competitions. The highlights of my academic career, it was during these times I spent advocating that I realized I had chosen a career path that suited me, and that I loved. Every time I have the privilege of advocating for someone else, I can’t help but think that there isn’t another job that could be so satisfying.
“Je n’ai laissé personne me décourager. J’y suis parvenu. ” « Donnez au suivant ! ». Cette simple phrase a une lourde signification depuis mon enfance passée dans un village de 50 personnes de la Gaspésie (Québec). Un « petit gars » de campagne, francophone de souche et ayant des rêves d’enfants démesurés : c’est ce que j’étais. À 7 ans, j’enseignais les mathématiques, le français et les règles de la sécurité routière à mes figurines de superhéros (tout à coup que Batman fasse un excès de vitesse !). En grandissant, je me suis aperçu que mes habiletés en communication ainsi que ma passion pour la lecture pourraient me mener à quelque part où je pourrais conjuguer deux éléments fondamentaux : avoir du plaisir au travail et venir en aide à autrui. Je n’ai laissé personne me décourager. Privilégié d’avoir eu des parents et amis qui croyaient en moi, je me suis donné les outils pour entrer à la faculté de droit. J’y suis parvenu. Je suis devenu avocat membre du Barreau du Haut-Canada en janvier 2012. Après avoir parcouru les petits et grands cabinets, je me suis posé sur un nid tout indiqué pour un jeune avocat désireux de changer les choses, une action concrète à la fois : le milieu de l’éducation. Je travaille présentement pour le Réseau ontarien d’éducation juridique.
Jean-François Morin Réseau ontarien d’éducation juridique Ottawa
â€œI was often getting in trouble with my parents and teachers for trying to negotiate a better result. â€?
Kristin Muszynski Templeman Menninga LLP Kingston
What made me decide to go to law school? I decided that I wanted to go to law school when I was in the seventh grade. I was often getting in trouble with my parents and teachers for trying to negotiate a better result. This included things like: a later curfew; fewer chores; homework extensions; or higher marks. At the time, I thought I was standing up against real injustices. My efforts were not always appreciated. At some point, a family friend suggested that my reasoning and argumentative skills might be actually considered an asset if I went to law school and became a litigator. I had not thought about going to law school until that moment. I did some research and learned that, indeed, law school was a place where thinking critically was encouraged and learning how to develop strong arguments based on legal authority was a focus. I have never regretted my decision to go to law school. I am now a litigator and love the opportunity to stand up for my client in court in the hope of achieving a fair and just result. Looking back, I guess you could say it was destiny.
“I was my parents’ voice from an early age, and knew that when I grew up only one profession was going to help us. ” I am a child of immigrant parents who first came to Canada with empty pockets, but a dream of a better life and an admirable work ethic that would someday help them be able to realize that dream. What my family did not count on was that we would be facing an obstacle course rife with prejudice and hardship. It became clear that our hopes and dreams would take a back seat to countless confrontations with many individuals who took advantage of trusting and struggling newcomers such as us. It proved to be an extremely difficult time for us, especially because English was our second language and we felt like there was no one we could turn to for help. Who was going to care for us, and stand up for our needs and basic rights and freedoms honestly and justly? I was my parents’ voice from an early age, and knew that when I grew up only one profession was going to help us and that I wanted to become part of that profession. Becoming a lawyer was the tool I was going to use to help not only my family but so many other vulnerable people like us reclaim their dignity and achieve their dreams through due process. And that is why I decided to go to law school.
Raong Phalavong Hamilton
“Upon my unlikely completion of high school, I ventured directly into the music industry. ”
Alwyn Phillips Toronto
My role models were dead-beat fathers and high school drop-outs. Upon my unlikely completion of high school, I ventured directly into the music industry. I thoroughly believed that my alternative to living life as a successful musician was to either live life as an impoverished musician, or to follow the trajectory of the high school drop-outs who routinely flashed wads of illegally attained cash. Music was my escape route, and it was all or nothing. As a musician I toured across Canada and the United States, received a Juno nomination, and signed a licensing deal with a major Canadian record label. Notwithstanding my relative success, my standard of living remained poor and I believed I had had no viable “plan B”. It was only when I met my soon-to-be wife that I realized I had the ability to achieve anything. She helped me realize that my talents were transferable and that my experiences provided me with a valuable skillset that would distinguish me from others. Going to law school was my way of paying this forward. If I can inspire one child to flourish out of circumstances in which failure seems imminent, then my law degree was worth it.
“T he itch however, to go to law school, never went away. ” As a kid, I was always intrigued by my parent’s friends who were lawyers. They talked about problems that they helped their clients with, and how what they did made a difference in their clients’ lives. I was convinced that rather than becoming a doctor like both my parents, I should become a lawyer and help people in an equally important but different way. My early interest stayed with me but acting on it was delayed for several years while I obtained an undergraduate degree, married, had two children and secured employment to support my family. The itch however, to go to law school, never went away. At age forty, I was finally able to scratch that itch. It was an amazing, challenging and somewhat terrifying experience for someone who had been out of school for many years and had family responsibilities. Nevertheless, I managed to convince those who needed convincing that I had learned enough to graduate and since that time, and my subsequent call to the Bar, I have worked in various roles attempting to resolve problems for both individuals and organizations. The modest successes I have had, more than fulfilled my personal objectives and expectations. I have solved many problems, contributed and I think I have made a difference.
Steve Pengelly Ontario Bar Association Toronto
“Realizing that I liked to take positions and debate, I chose law school. ”
Jeffrey Percival Pallett Valo LLP Mississauga
I grew up in a family of lawyers, but felt it was important to consider other career options. I went to undergraduate studies and then headed to journalism school, believing that I wanted to write and be on television. This exposed me to documentaries and films related to matters of social justice. One was “To Kill a Mockingbird”, with Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch, a southern gentleman lawyer with a strong desire to promote justice and change attitudes. What struck me most in seeing that character was the power of oratory in a legal context. Realizing that I liked to take positions and debate, I chose law school in order to pursue a career in litigation. Each time I go into court, I am reminded of the power of the legal system and the need for litigants to have strong legal representation to advocate for their interests. While law school may not be for everyone, I was fortunate to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to embark on a rewarding career, while being mindful that the learning never stops and the need for imparting legal advice will always be there. Becoming a lawyer has allowed me to become a confident public speaker and a respected source of guidance for my clients. I am glad that I chose law as a career.
â€œI voraciously consumed books on Canadian history, and soon realized the impact of politics on the lives of individuals. â€? As the immigrant daughter of a single mother with no immediate family members who had gone on to higher education, my initial motivation was to work hard to take advantage of the opportunities set before me by my newly adopted country. I had never been to a doctor; I had no concept of what a lawyer was. As a teenager, I voraciously consumed books on Canadian history, and soon realized the impact of politics on the lives of individuals. It did not escape my notice that many politicians had a law degree. I tried to put knowledge into action. I volunteered for a community organization which was geared towards advocating on behalf of new immigrants with schools or with the government. I went to law school because I was impressed by those who had given back to their community through public service. Law school was to be a stepping stone to my possible career in government or as a politician. That soon changed after I went to law school. I fell in love with the law and the challenge of finding solutions to problems and giving a voice, not to the many, but to one individual at a time. I met many lawyers along the way who were just as committed to giving back and to the service of others, as politicians were.
Audrey Ramsay Hughes Amys LLP Toronto
“It was only after realizing that I was not destined to become a physiotherapist did I begin to take my father’s advice. ” Jonathan Richardson Augustine Bater Binks LLP Ottawa
I spent years ignoring my father’s advice that I should be a lawyer. He told me that my love of reading would suit me well in law. It was only after realizing that I was not destined to become a physiotherapist did I begin to take my father’s advice. Law school provided me the opportunity to read. A lot. It still wasn’t until I got the chance to work at a small firm that I realized just how much reading goes into the average day of a lawyer. I realized quickly that practicing civil and family litigation remains an eternal education. Being an accomplished advocate means reading constantly, listening to and learning from other counsel and applying that knowledge to assist your clients. Learning not just something new, but many new things every day, remains my passion. Taking all that knowledge and using it to problem-solve for my clients is my love. I now realize that law truly is a “practice.” Every case is different so you never have the chance to become expert at any one thing. Rather, all you can do is keep reading to help the next client solve a new set of problems. That’s why I went to law school.
“I lived in a 78 Chevy Vandura with a mural of an eagle on the side and I taught skiing. ” My parents are both lawyers…I always wanted to be a ski instructor. So like anyone hailing from the relatively flat province of Ontario, at 19, I went to Whistler. I lived in a 78 Chevy Vandura with a mural of an eagle on the side and I taught skiing. I awoke to the sound of the guns blasting avalanches. For a time I thought I had found my nirvana. But alas, I could not outrun (or ski) what was bred in the bone. I started to notice something missing. I started to feel I wasn’t producing anything lasting. I started to think about what was next for me. I recalled a time when my father brought a youth home from court whose choice was live with us or bed down in a detention centre. I recalled hearing my mother speak about the silent abuse of women and the court’s reluctance to weigh into the affairs of a husband and wife; and of her subsequent development of a Women’s Shelter in our area. I recalled dinners spent discussing topics affecting society and my parent’s clients who lived within it. I went to law school because (besides Atticus Finch) my parents were the best people I knew, and I thought just maybe if I followed their lead, I could give something of value; something that would last.
Quinn M. Ross The Ross Firm Professional Corporation Goderich
“I went to law school to be able to help people understand and protect their rights. ”
Stuart Rudner Rudner MacDonald LLP Toronto
I went to law school because I have a strong belief in fairness and justice. When I was younger, my grandmother shared a story of when she was a young woman working in an office in Montreal. Times were tough, money was scarce and jobs hard to find. My grandmother told her boss that she would need a few days off to observe the Jewish High Holidays, and was told, effectively, that if she did not come to work on those days, she should not bother coming back at all. Despite the fact that her family needed the income from her job, my grandmother stood by her convictions and did not work on the High Holidays. Fortunately, she did not lose her job. However, many people still encounter situations like this and don’t know what to do or how to protect themselves. At the same time, employers that try to do the right thing are often taken advantage of by employees that abuse their rights. I went to law school to be able to help people understand and protect their rights. As an employment lawyer, I love working with real people, in everyday situations, in order to do so.
“Chaque jour, je travaille pour corriger des injustices. ” Les principes d’équité et d’intégrité ont toujours été des valeurs importantes pour moi. Dès un jeune âge, je savais que je voulais me lancer dans une carrière où je pourrais aider les gens, surtout ceux qui ont vécu des injustices. Étant originaire d’un petit village dans l’Est ontarien, je n’ai jamais pensé qu’un jour je pourrais pratiquer le droit à titre d’avocat. Il me semblait que c’était une carrière inatteignable, une carrière réservée pour d’autres. Toutefois, je me suis dévoué à mes études, car j’ai vite réalisé qu’une carrière en droit me permettrait d’inculquer mes valeurs dans une carrière enrichissante qui, à son essence même, existe pour corriger des injustices. Quotidiennement, j’aide des gens qui ont perdu leurs emplois et ne peuvent plus subvenir aux besoins de leurs familles; j’aide des patients qui ont subi des traumatismes en raison d’erreurs médicales et qui sont alités à vie; j’aide des victimes d’accident qui ne pourront plus travailler en raison de leurs blessures. Chaque jour, je travaille pour corriger des injustices. J’ai choisi une carrière en droit, car je peux prêter main-forte aux gens les plus vulnérables.
Marc Sauve Caza Saikaley Ottawa
“I did not have much exposure to the law until the day I was mugged at knife point coming home from University one afternoon. ” Robert Shawyer Shawyer Family Law Toronto
When I was a young, I had a habit of talking all the time. So much so that my friend’s parents would tell me that I talked so much that “I should be a lawyer”. As I grew older I did not have much exposure to the law until the day I was mugged at knife point coming home from University one afternoon. I was mugged because the people who followed me home from University wanted the winter jacket that I had recently bought. They were so intent on taking my jacket that they spent 1½ hours following me home. Finally when they thought no one else was watching they approached me with a knife and demanded that I give them my jacket, which I did without hesitation. The worst part of being mugged was not having my jacket stolen, but the fact that when I went looking for help after the people who mugged me began running away, no one wanted to help me in my time of need. After that I was determined to help others who were in need if I had the chance. After graduating from law school I began trying to help people involved in the criminal justice system until I realized that I really wanted to help people who were in need after the breakup of their relationships. That is why I went to law school.
“It really hit home how much injustice there is in the world and I wanted my work to have meaning to people and bring some justice to people’s lives. ” I decided that I wanted to go to law school while I was a teenager. I had been toying with the idea of what I wanted to be when I “grew up” for some time. I remember one day having a conversation with my father who was giving me a bit of a family history and specifically about the tragedies of WWII. Much of my family is Jewish and originated in Eastern Europe. My father showed me some very old black and white family pictures. What struck me quite significantly is a photo he showed me of his family before the war. We went through more pictures, and then he showed me a family photograph after the war and how few people were left after the devastation. It was that day that really cemented for me the desire to go to law school. It really hit home how much injustice there is in the world and I wanted my work to have meaning to people and bring some justice to people’s lives. While my existing practice is not in the area of international law or human rights per se, I am very fortunate to be practicing family law which allows me to touch people’s lives in a personal way each day when I go to work, and hopefully for the better. That is why I value what I do for a living so much.
Marta Siemiarczuk Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP Ottawa
“I was a frustrated 43-yearold freelance writer in spring 1994. ”
James Smith Ministry of Attorney General-Crown Law Office Civil Toronto
I was a frustrated 43-year-old freelance writer in spring 1994. During a dog walk I heard myself complain to my wife about a friend who had received an arts grant that I had not. In the ensuing discussion about lack of income & the spectre of no pension, my wife suggested I look into law school. Hesitant at first, painfully aware that 43 was a little late, I was pleasantly surprised by a 93d percentile on the LSAT, and even more so by the acceptance at Osgoode. Osgoode’s wonderful Mature Student’s Association did much to ease us oldsters into the frantic atmosphere. With two earlier (but stale-dated!) degrees, I enjoyed the plunge back into academia, and the consistently brilliant and supportive faculty. I researched for many of them, and had decided I’d be a research lawyer. But following the sad frenzy of articling week, I had trouble placing. Eventually I did, at a commission that conducted police hearings, then at the central civil litigation office for the province. Surprisingly, I loved doing motions and trials. My practice now is primarily trial work. I love every day of it. Who knew? I suppose the best way to sum it up is “came for the pension, stayed for the sheer joy of the work.”
“The law offered me a second chance and, at 49, I was called to the bar. ” At 15, I read about the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina who fought for their murdered children – many of whom were Jewish – at the same time I learned about a television show about the Holocaust. I told my father that we should watch the movie. Instead, he shouted: “we won’t be watching that movie!” For a number of years after, I was distracted by my troubled view of where I fit into the world and started offending. It wasn’t until I turned my life around that I decided, now as a freelance writer, to start writing about my father’s experience with ant-Semitism in the 1950’s as a medical student, his pain in discussing the Holocaust and others who were oppressed in Canada. I saw journalism as a substitute for my real passion — the law — because I presumed my bad conduct eliminated it as a career for me. I learned years later that I was wrong. The law offered me a second chance and, at 49, I was called to the bar. I now think all lawyers should be required to spend a night in jail as part of their professional training. I realize my experiences were a quasi-internship in the judicial system. Being confined — even for a night — makes you appreciate how critical laws and lawyers are to civilized society.
Kathryn L. Smithen Kathryn L. Smithen, Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public Toronto
“I learned early in life that the most dangerous violence comes not from the fists of the bullies and the bigots. ” Ivan Steele Ivan Steele Law Office Toronto
Growing up in Serbia as a gay man, I enjoyed an endless buffet of bullying and social ostracism served fresh by my peers and applauded by the law enforcement and the courts. I learned early in life that the most dangerous violence comes, not from the fists of the bullies and the bigots, but from the pens and the mouths of the legislatures and the silence of the judges. The practice of law has created a unique role for me, from which I can remain watchful and safeguard the rights and lives of all Canadians. Although commitment to equality is a beating heart of our democracy, it is vulnerable to the whims of the many and the privileges of the few. My experience as a psychotherapist pushed me further towards the practice of law and set my brand of “lawyering” apart from the litigation paradigm. I always wanted my clients to experience family and immigration law as caring professions. I wanted to provide more than legal advice – an emotional refuge and a path for my clients to live their lives the way they want. In return, they have challenged me with problems that are always different, interesting, and intellectually stimulating. It is unlikely that I would have found the same level of personal satisfaction doing anything else.
“By my mid-twenties, I determined that socializing was not a viable career. ” When I was three years old, I would carry the lid of the sewing machine like a briefcase and say “I go to Yamaha”. My father worked for Yamaha and that continued to be my career ambition until my teens. During those formative years, I didn’t give much thought to anything aside from friends and getting into trouble every now and then. By my mid-twenties, I determined that socializing was not a viable career. Going to law school seemed to be a natural progression for me. I was a logical thinker with a penchant for public speaking. My graduate degree in Philosophy had sharpened my critical thinking skills to a fine point. Best of all, I found I could use my artistic and creative side to develop novel solutions and strategies to tackle legal problems. That is why I went to law school. Looking back, it was the best choice I could have made. I deal with clients every day, each with their own unique story, needs and challenges. Every file requires critical assessment, strategy, execution and presentation. I get to use my skills to assist individuals who have suffered significant loss and require someone to seek justice on their behalf. Being a lawyer provides challenges on a daily basis and a great sense of personal fulfillment.
Ryan Steiner Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
â€œI knew my true calling was to be a lawyer and act for plaintiffs seeking justice. I was going to act for the underdog. â€? David Sterns Sotos LLP Toronto
When I entered law school, I did not have a full appreciation of the law, but I was intrigued by different legal systems and approaching legal problems from an international perspective. Initially, I wanted to become a diplomat and McGill University, where I studied law, seemed like a great training ground for international work. Through my education, I began to value the way lawyers, like diplomats, use problem-solving skills and rational argument to bring opposing factions to agreement. But when diplomacy fails, instead of war, lawyers use the hard edge of the law to forge a solution through the courts. I also realized how the law can be a positive force in the lives of ordinary people who have been wronged by mightier opponents. By the time I was called for an interview for the foreign-service, I still use those soft tools of diplomacy as a litigation lawyer when negotiating a settlement for my clients. It may surprise people to know that it is often those skills that bring about the best results for clients. But I have to admit it is the sweet taste of courtroom victory that keeps me coming back for more!
“While the vet’s life had seemed appealing in James Herriott’s books, I know now I made a good decision, both for me and probably for the cows. ” I went to Law School because it seemed likely to be a lot cleaner than being a country vet, getting up close and personal with cows’ nether regions in midwinter, which was my original plan. While the vet’s life had seemed appealing in James Herriott’s books, I know now I made a good decision, both for me and probably for the cows. Law School was not only warm and antiseptic, it was intellectually challenging, full of interesting people and opened the door to many possible careers. While I became a traditional barrister arguing commercial cases in the Ontario courts, some of my friends went on to be diplomats, business people and in one case, a well-known sports writer. Law school was full of outrageous criminal cases, unusual torts (which one soon learns are simply civil wrongs), complicated contracts, bills of exchange and emotional family cases. It was also full of friends and pubs, study and debate, and, for some inexplicable reason at Osgoode in the 1980s, quite a lot of day time soap opera. Law School has something for everyone. In my case it provided both a career and a lifetime of personal satisfaction. And not once did a farmer call me in the middle of a winter’s night to help a cow give birth.
Colin Stevenson Stevensons LLP Toronto
“People always ask me how it feels to work for the “dark side”
Daniel Strigberger Miller Thomson LLP Waterloo
When I was growing up, my father (a plaintiff personal injury lawyer) would come home and tell me about his days at the office. He would tell stories about how he was helping his accident victim clients beat up on the insurance companies. I started feeling bad for those poor companies, so I decided to go to law school to become an insurance lawyer. Unfortunately my law school didn’t offer insurance law as a course, so it took a few years until I learned the difference between first party and third party liability claims. But it was worth the wait. People always ask me how it feels to work for the “dark side”. The truth is that I love the work I do for the insurance industry and for their clients, namely, the people who end up in the insurance claims system due to suffering unfortunate losses. I enjoy working on files that allow me to help get an accident victim some fair compensation while serving the best interests of my insurance clients. But the best part of having gone to law school is that now I get to come home and tell my 7-year-old daughter about how I am helping my insurance company clients help accident victims.
“I was known in my family for debating, negotiating, and talking a lot at the dinner table. ” As one of the youngest of 10 children you really have to learn to speak up at a young age. Not surprisingly I was known in my family for debating, negotiating, and talking a lot at the dinner table. One of my first attempts at writing in school required me to answer what I wanted to be when I grew up and even at that age I said “A lawyer”. It was not until grade 12 that I fully made my decision. I was given a co op position at a litigation firm in Windsor, and after my program was complete the name sake partner sat me down to discuss my plans. He gave me some sound advice: “If you go to dental school…you will be a dentist. If you go to law school…many more careers are open to you.” Ultimately I used my law degree for the traditional path. Now I strive every day to make a difference for my injured clients and their families. I use my advocacy skills to obtain compensation for them so they can have a greater quality of life despite their injuries. I use my skills to help them return to some sense of normalcy after their injury, so they and their families can enjoy their own dinner table debates. I consider myself very lucky to have found a career that allows me to make a difference to society, one client and one family at a time.
Mary-Anne Strong Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
“I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when I started following the O.J. Simpson Trial. ”
Andrew Sudano Shawyer Family Law Toronto
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when I started following the O.J. Simpson Trial. As a young boy, my legal hero was Johnny Cochran because of his prowess as a litigator and linguistic flair. Once I got older and began to research Johnny Cochran for various school projects, I learned that Johnny Cochran believed that a single dedicated man could use the law to change society and that his career was a calling to fight for what was right. Johnny Cochran sparked my interest in the law because I admired his ability to overcome significant odds and challenge legal, social and racial inequalities. Further, while Johnny Cochran gained notoriety for successfully defending the rich and famous, he was also well known for defending the poor and serving his community. In my volunteer / extracurricular experience during my undergraduate years, the most important things I took away were the humbling experience of contributing to my community and learning how to utilize my talents for the benefit of others. For me going to law school wasn’t just a goal, it was my calling. That is why I went to law school.
â€œI would listen to the morning news on the radio and then discuss it with my nursery school teacher. â€? Unlike many lawyers, by age 11 becoming a lawyer was my goal. I had always been very aware and interested in current events. I would listen to the morning news on the radio and then discuss it with my nursery school teacher. I would read the newspaper and I saw that many prominent people, including leading politicians, were lawyers. I saw lawyers helping people on television shows like Perry Mason and they seemed altruistic. I was interested in being independent; working for myself; having a professional degree; being a businessman; and in solving complex problems. I thought about and eliminated other career choices. While I was a top student in science and mathematics, I was more interested in dealing with people. I had an interest and aptitude for art and architecture, but I did not enjoy the pen and paper work. By grade nine, after I had been elected treasurer of my junior high school student council, I contacted law schools for their brochures and I made up my mind that I would study at Osgoode Hall Law School. I took summer courses, accelerated through high school, and studied hard so that after two years of undergraduate studies, where I was elected student council representative, I received early acceptance to Osgoode.
Lawrence Swartz Morneau Shepell Ltd Toronto
“My sister’s brain injury impacted every aspect of her life and I saw firsthand how challenging it was for her to get access to services. ” Tara Sweeney Soloway Wright LLP Ottawa
I grew up with a sister who suffered an acquired brain injury at the age of 4. I remember quite clearly the day she came home from the hospital (I was 7 years old). My sister’s brain injury impacted every aspect of her life and I saw first-hand how challenging it was for her to get access to services and for my parents, who were both health care providers themselves, to navigate through the health care system. While my sister’s brain injury was not because of an accident, living with someone with an acquired brain injury gave me a unique insight into how difficult it was, and remains, for injured persons to participate in those things we all take for granted; going to school, making dinner or even getting dressed. That experience, combined with my interest in access to justice issues led me to law school at the University of Windsor and ultimately to a career with Soloway Wright, where I am now a partner in civil litigation with an emphasis on personal injury, medical malpractice and health law. I now act almost exclusively for injured plaintiffs, with a particular emphasis on traumatic and acquired brain injury. I couldn’t have made a better choice and I like to think that I make a difference for those that I represent.
“When I was growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian, then an actor, then a philosopher. ” When I was growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian, then an actor, then a philosopher. A law course changed my life. My father was a family doctor and, during my third year undergraduate, I set my sights on medical school. I was majoring in philosophy and took additional science courses which enabled me to meet the prerequisites. I volunteered at Queen Street Mental Health Centre and a campus hotline. I wanted to help people. I entered a graduate program in the Department of Behavioural Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. An elective health law course changed my life. The legal analysis of problems was music to my ears. My mother’s “because I say so” was not enough. I realized that I valued the skills of critical thinking, analysis and argument which were necessary components for the study of law. I respected those who could speak in public and also were interested in concepts and rights. I could help people in real and concrete ways – no bodily fluids need be involved. I told my father I wanted to go to law school. He looked at me and, in a quiet and caring voice, said “What if you don’t get in?” I laughed and said “Dad, it’s law school, not medical school.”
Paul Sweeny Evans Sweeny Bordin LLP Hamilton
“It slowly dawned on me that in fact the pen may just be mightier than the sword. ”
Robert Talach Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers London
I always knew what I wanted to be – a soldier. From an early age and well into my teens that was my focus. Wisely my parents insisted that I get an education before joining the Army. As a compromise I enrolled as an Army Reservist in high school and maintained that status when I went away to University. At the end of my undergraduate degree I immediately volunteered for fulltime military duty anywhere there was conflict in the world and I got my wish. I was deployed to Bosnia in 1994 while that civil war raged on. As a peacekeeper I increasingly noted with frustration the military’s inability to effect real change at the end of a bayonet. From my perspective this was not the soldiering I had always envisioned. I was not fighting for justice; I was not battling the “bad guys”. It slowly dawned on me that in fact the pen may just be mightier than the sword. Upon my return to Canada I decided to go to boot camp for how best to use the pen – Law School. Still a solider at heart I opted for the “battlefield” of civil litigation after my Call to the Bar in 2002. Since then I have been doing battle on behalf of injured and abused clients; seeking justice with the help of the pen now, instead of the sword.
“My parents wanted me to be a doctor, but unfortunately for them, I could not stand the sight of blood. ” My parents wanted me to be a doctor, but unfortunately for them, I could not stand the sight of blood. More importantly, being an immigrant from communist Russia, I had a burgeoning interest in politics. From an early age, I knew that I wanted the struggles my parents went through to bring me over to Canada, to matter. I wanted to make an impact on society. It was clear to me that in order to pursue my political interests I needed to become a lawyer first. Once I had made it to law school, I made it a point to get involved in grass-roots student politics and I remained involved throughout. Through this, I learned something invaluable; too often, political decisions don’t mean taking the high road, but rather are about compromising your own beliefs for the sake of being expedient. So my own moral compass steered me away from politics. Instead, I have pursued a corporate law career, where I do not need to compromise myself in order to pursue what is in the best interest of my clients during their business transactions. I’m still making an impact on society, which is why I went to law school.
Matthew Tevlin Torkin Manes LLP Toronto
“As I grew up I learned firsthand what racism and inequality meant and how hurtful it could be. ”
Joyce Thomas Polishuk, Camman & Steele London
When I was two months old I was placed into a foster home. I was raised by a widowed retired woman. She raised me to believe I could be whatever I wanted to be. She was the best mother anyone could ask for. Growing up on Kettle and Stony Point First Nation reservation, I noticed from a young age that something didn’t feel quite right in the community. As I grew up I learned firsthand what racism and inequality meant and how hurtful it could be. I was fourteen when Dudley George, a native protester, was shot and killed at Camp Ipperwash. The fall out of that tragedy resulted in increased racism and a sharp divide between native people and non-native people. But the bigger lesson I learned was that the people who chose to pursue the practice of law, not only recognized inequality and unfairness, they could do something about it. I wanted to be a part of that. My mom passed away in 2006 just after I was accepted to Law School. Who she was as a person inspired me to be anything and do what I could to improve our community. For me, that means I aspire to be a leader, to promote equality and fairness, and to improve access to justice. For me, this is who I want to be and what I want to achieve as a lawyer.
“My brothers and I were raised by parents who insisted we lead useful lives. ” Why did I go to law school? That is a difficult question. Some of us go to law school because one of our parents did. Others go to law school because of the power and prestige the profession brings. Some of us go to law school because lawyers make good money. I think the law chose me. My brothers and I were raised by parents who insisted we lead useful lives, to be of service, and to leave the world (or at least our little corner of it) better off for our having occupied it. They didn’t dictate this to us, but taught by their example. With my talents and skills, there was never any doubt what I would do in order to live a useful life. After 25 years of practice, I know I made the right decision. I have met thousands of people. I have helped thousands of clients, satisfied I have done my best for each of them. More rewarding, however, are the thousands I have helped, who never became clients. I have been able, in a quick phone call or email, to assist hundreds of people to solve a problem. It is rewarding. After 25 years I get up each morning looking forward to the challenges of the day, and look back at each week thinking that I have made a difference.
Jamie Trimble Superior Court of Justice Milton
“The goal of many immigrant parents was to have a doctor in the family. ”
Edwin Upenieks Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP Brampton
The goal of many immigrant parents was to have a doctor in the family. In my last year of high school, my teacher, Mr. Wilson, often had students write out their proofs or solutions to math problems on the blackboard. There was a particularly difficult problem one day, but I went to the front of the class and filled the blackboard with my solution. Next, I had to support the proof. Mr. Wilson had a puzzled look on his face throughout my presentation. In the end, he told the class that I had just proven a tough problem, but did so in a way that he had not seen in his many years of teaching. After class, he told me that I should consider law school. Frankly, I dismissed his comments as medicine was the only goal that I had in mind. In my first year at UofT, I loaded up on maths and sciences. But, I hated the science labs and having to spend hours running experiments that never turned out right. More and more, I thought back on Mr. Wilson’s comments. Finally, I took a leap of faith, followed Mr. Wilson’s advice and applied to law school. I soon realized I enjoyed proving the solution as much as knowing the solution. Were my parents disappointed? Not at all. Besides, my younger brother is a doctor…
“Je me sens privilégiée de participer à la poursuite de la justice dans notre société. ” À la fin de mes études collégiales, je voulais devenir journaliste. Je voulais travailler dans un environnement stimulant, enquêter pour aller au fond des choses, rédiger des textes et exprimer une opinion sur des sujets divers. À l’époque, des journalistes m’ont recommandé d’étudier autre chose que le journalisme si je voulais trouver un poste de journaliste après mes études. Le droit et l’administration étaient les recommandations les plus fréquentes. J’ai choisi le droit, car je voulais apprendre à construire des argumentaires convaincants. Une fois à la faculté de droit, j’ai découvert que ce qui m’interpellait dans le journalisme, je le trouvais aussi dans le droit. J’y trouvais également un défi intellectuel constant et la possibilité de faire changer les choses de façon directe. Lors de mes études, j’ai développé un intérêt marqué pour les questions portant sur les droits de la personne et leur application dans une société diverse et complexe. J’ai donc finalement choisi de pratiquer le droit. Aujourd’hui, je trouve le droit toujours aussi stimulant et je me sens privilégiée de participer à la poursuite de la justice dans notre société.
Marie-Andrée Vermette WeirFoulds LLP Toronto
“I went to law school to ensure that no parent would ever find themselves in the dark place that my grandfather was in that day. ” Aly Virani Gardiner Roberts LLP Toronto
On July 1st, 1973, my grandfather arrived in Canada with less than a month’s rent in his pocket. Having escaped the threat of expulsion and political strife in East Africa, he came to Canada to start a new life for his family. In 1973, Canada was not the tolerant and pluralistic society it is today. Instilled with a sense of autonomy and selfreliance only an orphan can possess, my grandfather sought employment with a large manufacturing company. In a mocking East-Indian accent, he was told there was “no vacancy” despite seeing the job posted right before his eyes. After months of unemployment and watching his wife and young child sleep on the floor of a small one-bedroom apartment, he reached his breaking point; ultimately, making an attempt at his own life. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful. I went to law school to ensure that no parent would ever find themselves in the dark place that my grandfather was in that day. I went to law school to help people endure when their horizon is full of only darkness – to endure when they reach their breaking point. I am proud to be a member of this noble profession and I know, wherever my grandfather is, he is proud too.
“I am very grateful to have the ability and opportunity to support my clients during a very difficult time in their lives. ” There are many things I enjoy about practicing personal injury litigation – the legal strategy employed to achieve the best result for my clients, the adrenaline I get during a courtroom trial — but most of all, I love the clients that I represent. I act for people who have been injured in car accidents and slip and falls. They have permanent injuries and cannot return to work, take care of their children, socialize, and pursue the life they dreamed of before they were injured. Some have lost a spouse, parent or child due to an accident, and must continue on in life without that person forever. Over the course of their lawsuit, I spend a great deal of time with my clients and get to know them very well. As I learn about their life before and after they were injured, they become more than just clients – they are almost like family that I fight hard to help. I assist them in returning to a full life despite their injuries, ensuring they are fairly compensated for their losses, and making certain that they recover the selfesteem and dignity they had before their accident. I am very grateful to have the ability and opportunity to support my clients during a very difficult time in their lives – THIS is why I went to law school.
Catherine Wilde Fleck Law Point Edward
“With her blonde hair and blue eyes, she didn’t look like me, but I dreamed of emulating her all the same. ”
Cheryl Williams Fryer & Associates Markham
Today, as I practice family law, I am confident and tenacious. I dreamed of becoming a lawyer in my teens, inspired by the lawyers I saw on television. However, as an immigrant, woman of colour — except on the Cosby Show — they didn’t look like me. As an adult, facing actual or perceived obstacles, I became a legal assistant instead. I worked for a lawyer who was intelligent and confident, but unlike most lawyers on television, she was also kind and socially-conscious. With her blonde hair and blue eyes, she didn’t look like me, but I dreamed of emulating her all the same. She encouraged me to follow my dream, while still keeping my young children a priority. Two years after meeting her, I was accepted into Osgoode Hall Law School. She celebrated my graduation with my family and me. Nineteen years after meeting her, I sat in my first Masters in Law (ADR) class and unexpectedly, she was the guest lecturer. We both cried tears of joy! At that moment, I realized my life had come full circle, and I had followed the path that was meant for me. Today, I endeavour to pass on similar compassion and encourage clients, staff, future lawyers, and others to conquer their fears and make changes in their lives, regardless of obstacles.
“You’ve heard of the expression: “Those who can’t do, teach”? As it turns out, the inverse is true too. ” I knew I was going to be a lawyer by age 8. Midway through a co-op Hons BA in politics from Waterloo, I settled on economic law and set my sights on an academic career. I spent the next 4 years at UWO, completing a MA in international relations and a LLB. Although I gravitated toward research courses, I really benefitted from UWO’s many mandatory program (e.g. trusts & evidence). While articling at Ogilvy Renault and clerking at the Federal Court, I completed a LLM in international law at Ottawa. Next I entered Toronto’s SJD program and began dipping my toes into the academic job market. After my toes were gnawed off by the piraña-like vicissitudes of academic fate, it occurred to me that the Canadian teaching market was too small for my niche. Starting over at the University of Michigan, I was granted another LLM in 2003 and promptly completed my doctoral dissertation in… well, um... 2011! So what happened to my academic fast track? Yes, there was a decade’s worth of publishing and adjunct teaching, but there was also the work! Long story short: I happily became a busy international investment arbitration lawyer instead. You’ve heard of the expression: “Those who can’t do, teach”? As it turns out, the inverse is true too.
Todd Weiler London
â€œI wanted to gain the skills that I needed to effectively fight for the values that I hold and the principles that I believe in. â€? Nicholas Wright Barrister & Solicitor Toronto
Going to university opened my eyes to the many injustices that take place here in Canada and around the world. I quickly became actively involved in campaigns to defend civil liberties, end unjust wars and stop needless suffering. My work campaigning led me to get involved with politics, running for office to speak out against widespread discrimination, environmental degradation and government failings, while providing solutions for a better future. I chose law school because I wanted to gain the skills that I needed to effectively fight for the values that I hold and the principles that I believe in. I was not disappointed. My knowledge of the law has made me an effective advocate and has allowed me to work on the issues that I think are important like holding police accountable, standing up for Charter rights, building a green city and improving animal protection laws. Just as importantly, law has provided me with a career helping entrepreneurs and business people realize their dreams, which affords me the time and flexibility to be an active member of my community. I went to law school to make a difference.
“She was the first person I knew whose parents were getting divorced and it was scary. ” At age 11, my best friend’s parents told my friend and her sister that they were separating. I remember how sad my friend was and how sad I felt for her. She was the first person I knew whose parents were getting divorced and it was scary. I spent many nights with my friend and tried to support her through her parents’ separation the best way that I knew how to at that age. I learned about the importance of being a good listener from that experience. I learned about how valuable it was to let someone just talk and not to be critical of what they were saying. I learned that adults think that kids can’t hear conversations or arguments, but really kids hear everything. And if kids don’t actually hear things, they definitely feel them. I learned empathy. So when the time came to pick between Teacher’s College and Law School, I knew that I wanted to go to Law School. I wanted to work with moms and dads and help them separate in a way that doesn’t make kids feel bad. I wanted to learn how to turn the stories into advocacy for parents and for kids. Mostly I just wanted to be a part of making a difference in a family’s life. That is why I went to law school.
Lorna Yates Ballantyne Yates LLP Toronto
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JOIN THE OBA Learn more about how you benefit from the OBA’s professional development programs at
WWW.OBA.ORG/MEMBERSKNOW. ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION A Branch of the CANADIAN BAR ASSOCIATION L’ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU DE L’ONTARIO Une division de l’ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU CANADIEN
Ontario Bar Association 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M5C 2B8 Telephone: (416) 869-1047 Toll-free: 1-800-668-8900 Fax: (416) 869-1390 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.oba.org
You Could Be Getting More! More Savings More Service More Coverage
Home and auto Insurance ExclusivE to lEgal ProfEssionals With the cBia sponsored home and auto insurance program, thereâ€™s no shopping around required, with exclusive rates for canadian legal professionals which are hard to beat. Getting a quote or switching your insurance policy is easy. Licensed insurance professionals are ready to assist you with tailoring solutions to your unique needs. You can get a quote online in minutes. You could save up to $7001 annually.
call 1-877-314-6274 or visit
barinsurance.com/homeauto for your cBia ExclusivE homE or auto insurancE quotE. approximate amount based on a december 2013 analysis. this amount may vary and cannot be guaranteed. amounts are calculated in comparison with the rates of other insurers. discounts and savings are subject to eligibility conditions.
This program is sponsored by the Canadian Bar Insurance Association (CBIA), Canadaâ€™s only national insurance association exclusive to lawyers, their families and law firm staff. Certain conditions apply. CBIA sponsored Home & auto Insurance is underwritten by the Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and by the Personal Insurance company in all other provinces and territories. certain products and services may not be available in all provinces and territories. cBIa Insurance services is a division of 3303128 canada Inc., a licensed insurance broker. auto insurance not available in manitoba, saskatchewan or British columbia due to government-run plans.