What has been your best moment as a lawyer? We asked OBA members to share theirs, and whether it’s through client interactions, volunteer activities or a win in court, it’s obvious that lawyers find their calling in more ways than one.
Audrey P. Ramsay
Blouin Dunn LLP
Distilling my most positive moment in my practice to just one moment, event, or experience, would do an injustice to the multitude of experiences and people who have shaped the kind of lawyer I am today and, indeed, made me realize that I chose the right profession. As the oldest daughter of a single mother with six children, I was the first one in my family to obtain a university education never mind pursue a profession. I did not have any role models. Mentors were invaluable at the start of my career and, surprisingly, continue to be so to this day on many fronts and for different purposes. In the beginning my mentors were John Cannings and Janet Gross. As preferred counsel to lawyers in professional negligence and repair matters, both taught me to think outside the box, to challenge the status quo, to pursue, what may seem to some, a quixotic position, which in the end, may prevail, and indeed, change the legal landscape.
The generosity of lawyers in the giving of their time and energy often goes unnoticed by the public. But, as a profession, we are aware of the capacity of lawyers to give back to the profession and to their community. For folks like me who would have stumbled, fallen, or dropped out, a heartfelt thanks to mentors everywhere.
One of my most memorable moments as a lawyer came very early in my practice. A woman came into my office and advised that a credit card company was harassing her at work to the point where she was reduced to tears. Her husband had suffered a heart attack and for the first time in his life could not make payments on his credit card. He made a consumer proposal and successfully erased his debts. That’s when the credit card company started to improperly pursue the wife for payment (she had never executed an agreement to be jointly liable to the company). The wife could not afford to retain me so I agreed to help her pro bono. I met with the wife (who lacked a lot of confidence) and prepared a cross-examination script for her to use when questioning the credit card company representative at trial.
In short, the wife was successful at trial and when she called me with her good news, it was clear that she felt empowered and much more confident! It was such a great feeling to know that justice prevailed and it was an honour to be in a position to put my legal skills to good use!
Benmor Family Law Group
I recently represented a woman who had immigrated to Canada to be with her new husband who sponsored her. From the very beginning, she was subjected to abuse, domination and servitude by her husband and his family. After she gave birth to their child, she was forever bound to this man. However, as a new immigrant, with limited English language and no economic freedom, she was trapped. Making the decision to leave was a mammoth step. But following that very difficult decision, was the next important decision to select the one lawyer that would be her advocate.
I was honoured that she allowed me to champion her case before the courts. Through my involvement, I observed a victim of abuse who was scared, weak and powerless transform into a self-confident, brave and vocal person. This transformation would also change her vision of herself as a person and as a parent. Her display of bravery in confronting her husband and his family in open court was revolutionary. The outcome of the trial was less important than the journey this woman took to asserting herself and finding her independence.
I was fortunate enough to be selected as her legal representative, advocate and champion. These are some of her words to me:
Dear Mr Benmor:
I want to thank you for all you have done for me. I am now a strong person and a better parent because you had confidence in me and showed me the way. You are not only a great lawyer but also a great person and certainly the most ethical lawyer I have met. Thank you!
Before attending law school, I obtained a Masters in Art History, and then worked at contemporary art museum and as an independent curator. After a few years, I left the arts for law school because I wanted to do something that would have a greater impact on the world (you know, the usual idealistic view).
I was one of those lucky young lawyers who got to practice in the area of law I was most passionate about right away (environmental law). However, as a young associate I still sometimes wondered whether law was really the right choice for me.
That changed one morning when I appeared in front of an administrative tribunal without any senior lawyer supervising me. I expected to be nervous as I have never particularly enjoyed public speaking, but that day was different. I was speaking on behalf of someone else - in order to help someone else - and, it turns out, that made me confident. That day, I found myself actually having fun advocating on behalf of my client. We won, which is always a good feeling, but it was more than that, I had helped my client solve a legal problem and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It didn’t matter that the legal issue was small, it was meaningful to my client and therefore to me. I was finally sure that I had made the right decision.
Grinhaus Law Firm
I always liked being a lawyer but I don't think I loved it until I went off on my own. That's when it went from interesting to exciting.
There is so much more to being a lawyer than just reviewing, drafting and advising; there's also relationship building and trust. I appreciate all the relationships I have gained and am grateful for having also gained the trust of those people because that is the proof that I have been able to help, which is why I became a lawyer in the first place.
What was your best moment as a lawyer? Log in to share in the comments section below!