I love this profession. I think it does a great deal of good. I think it stands as a bulwark against tyranny and the erosion of the rule of law.
We caught up with Quinn Ross, managing partner at The Ross Firm, to find out how he’s spending the weeks leading up to the beginning of his term as OBA President.
Quinn, we know you will have a lot to say when you take office as OBA President at the end of the summer, but what are you up to in the meantime? Any breaks from your busy schedule?
First, I am definitely excited about assuming my duties as President. As I’ve outlined to Council, there is a lot I want to accomplish and we will be getting straight to it at the AGM in September. Second, I don’t think lawyers take breaks: I think they accelerate an already difficult schedule to carve out a brief pause only to be inundated with the avalanche of responses their pre-pause acceleration caused. Despite that, I am trying to take some pauses. This summer my pauses have been spent almost entirely on sourcing, acquiring, sanding, staining and delivering myriad types and lengths of wood to a project we are undertaking outside of Tobermory. In short, we are building a house and had the romantic notion that it would be a good idea to do as much of the work as we were able given a near total lack of knowledge or skill. Seemed like a good idea at the time….
Any building tips to share?
Preparation is key. We conceptualized the project in August of 2016 and commenced construction in May of this year. In advance of breaking ground, we learned as much as we could about the process, our building partners, the land itself, the rules that apply to that land and the tales of those who came before us. It was a big effort but when it came time to actually execute we felt confident we had done everything we could to ensure success. It was not unlike preparing for a big trial.
Speaking of building foundations and strong structures, is this work you are doing in any way inspiring your mandate for your term as president?
I don’t know about inspiring, but certainly reinforcing. We have approached the project as a collaboration. We consulted and continued to consult with all involved. We have fostered the idea of a team where we are working toward a shared goal. Each victory and setback belongs to the team. I see it as my job to make a space where the members of my team can bring their best selves, take ownership and be creative. The results have been stupendous. I intend on carrying that through to my engagement of the board and council.
Looking back, what have been your guiding principles since being called to the bar and how have they evolved over the years?
I would say my guiding principles were and remain justice, fairness and equity. While the principles have been relatively static, my approach has changed. I try to bring greater compassion and humility in seeking out those goals. I find the less something is about me, the better the result and the better I feel.
OK, let’s go even further back. Where does this inclination for justice, fairness and equity come from?
My parents are lawyers. They read to me or commended me to read tales of justice and fairness denied or achieved. Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Trial. We discussed and debated these important works from the perspective of the law and lawyers as tools to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable among us. In her career, my mother has advocated for abused women in matrimonial matters before doing so was common practice. She was routinely told that the court had no place in the bedroom of the litigants. She was undeterred. In fact, it caused a redoubling of her efforts. She helped established a local women’s shelter, organized and led ‘Take Back the Night’ marches, and sat on the local Domestic Assault Review Team. She saw a group that wasn’t being protected and used her skill as a lawyer and advocate to improve protections. I have tried to emulate this with respect to any disenfranchised person or group. My proudest moments both professionally and personally have been when I have advocated for social justice, when I have empowered others, or provided shelter while fighting for their empowerment.
You have been an active OBA board member since 2010 and involved with multiple committees since then. Why have you invested so much of your time in the OBA?
I love this profession. I think it does a great deal of good. I think it stands as a bulwark against tyranny and the erosion of the rule of law. The OBA is a sophisticated and significant advocate for the profession I love and offers me a way to serve that I haven’t found in any other organization. Being a part of that gives me great pleasure and fills me with pride.
Aside from The Ross Firm’s three offices, and the OBA, what other projects benefit from your time and energy?
I am a long-time board member of the Blyth Festival. I have also created an organization called The Syrian Refugee Initiative, which has to date resulted in three families making Goderich, Ontario their home. I give counsel to and volunteer in support of the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund, which acquires and donates defibrillators to public spaces on behalf of fallen first responders.
What book(s) are you reading right now and why would you recommend it/them?
Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last. Again, lessons of how humility, passion and support of others manifests itself in a better self and stronger team.
Roy Jacobsen – The Unseen. A coming of age tale (I always love those because I hope to one day come of age) about small community, family and tragedy. It is a beautiful, if at times claustrophobic story where the writing (wonderfully translated by Don Bartlett) mirrors the landscapes; sometimes broad and urban, other times cloistering and provincial. It’s just a literary delight.
OK, last question and the most important one: What is your favourite summer meal or magic ingredient for summer cooking?
My favourite meal is anything on the BBQ. If I had to pick, my barbecued pizza: dough from scratch, each ingredient locally foraged and prepared with love. As for the ingredient… the outdoors. The winters are long; any chance to enjoy the outside AND eat is one I won’t pass up.