Drawn portraits of lawyers

Why Did You Go to Law School?

  • February 01, 2013

OBA launches public communication campaign


It’s a simple yet powerful question. It takes us back to our university years. A time in our lives marked by optimism, and idealism. When we chose law school for all kinds of good reasons.

Perhaps you went to law school because you wanted to do some sort of service for the community. Or desired to help people who didn’t have the ability to advocate for their rights on their own. Maybe you were the one in your family who resolved conflicts. Or you were looking to lay a foundation for a larger interest in politics, or business.

Maybe you had occasion to see a lawyer fight for someone you knew, and help them make justice possible.

Or maybe, you just loved to argue.

Whatever your reason, your story can be the start of a larger conversation; one we are starting on behalf of the members of the Ontario Bar Association as part of our commitment to advancing the profession. We are proud to announce the launch of our exciting new communications platform for 2013, ‘Why I Went to Law School’.

Many lawyers are beginning to think like Bruce. In the LSUC and Strategic Counsel’s 2010 Change of Status Quantitative Study, the greatest drop in private practice was away from larger firms. Women who filed a change of status left private practice in numbers significantly greater than their male counterparts, with the stated desire ”to achieve greater flexibility in scheduling, a greater balance between career and family responsibilities, and a reduction in workload and stress in their work environment.”

This is a campaign borne out of research the OBA conducted on public attitudes toward lawyers. We learned, perhaps not surprisingly, that people have a negative view of lawyers, seeing us as pretentious, self-serving, and arrogant.

We believe that with your involvement, we can begin to change this perception. By showcasing your story, we believe we can give people an opportunity to see lawyers in a different way. Testimonial campaigns, of course, are nothing new. Yet when used properly, they prove very effective. The authenticity of a non-actor – real stories by real lawyers – can help address the startling dichotomy that emerged in our research: people greatly respect their own lawyer, but not lawyers in general. A testimonial campaign demonstrates the vast majority of lawyers are just like your lawyer – honest, genuine, and trustworthy.

Testimonials also create a natural variety across the campaign. Some of the stories may be humourous; others humbling. Some may be altruistic, others inspiring. It also allows us to reflect cultural and racial diversity, showcasing all lawyers regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual preference, or physical abilities.

We intentionally aren’t asking, ‘why did you become a lawyer.’ Rather, looking back to one’s reasons for choosing law school provides an opportunity to express, in very personal terms, your earlier motivations, and to reflect on your ideals. By sharing that story, in your own words, we’ll help others better understand what motivates a lawyer, and see our profession in a more human light.

We are sharing these stories at a new OBA microsite; www.whyIwenttolawschool.ca. The site launches February of this year. Here, we are collecting and showcasing all member stories. It is our hope that we see not just hundreds, but over time, thousands of our OBA lawyers participating. Imagine the powerful, cumulative effect this would have.

The site also features easy-to-use tools that enable OBA members to create your own ad in the style of our campaign. These can be used at your discretion, in your local newspaper, newsletter, firm’s website, or social media like Facebook, to promote your own practice.

So. Why did you go to law school?