President's Message: Fulfilling our promise and potential amidst change in the profession

  • February 27, 2020
  • Colin Stevenson

Colin StevensonThe old Irish witticism, “youth is wasted on the young,” clearly arises from the perceived wisdom of tired elders and perhaps their jealousy of opportunities available only to the young. It may also, more broadly, be an observation on human nature—the wistfulness and nostalgia of older generations for the exciting opportunities opening up for younger ones.  If you are looking for good reason to be jealous of or, better still, be inspired by the new generation of up-and-comers, you just have to attend any OBA Student or Young Lawyers Division (YLD) event.

I speak from experience here—recently I attended the “Networking Made Easy” reception for students and young lawyers at OBA Institute. I encountered burgeoning and practising lawyers who are determined and open-minded, craving knowledge and questioning assumptions, in love with the law and committed to using it as a force for good in the world. Above all, it was evident that these emerging leaders understood the power that community holds in the legal profession and were keen to harness that power to become better lawyers, better colleagues and better stewards of their profession than they could ever be alone.

Gatherings like this one make me understand why I so often hear from OBA members that they wish they had joined earlier in their careers, that they had missed out on advantageous connections, opportunities and education by only joining later in life. The new generation of lawyers does inspire in me a great deal of optimism about the legal profession’s capacity to navigate the inevitable changes we are facing and its ability to engineer positive innovation. 

On June 4, 2020 the OBA’s incredibly popular YLD Gala will coincide with a day-long Young Lawyers Conference hosted by the CBA on June 5, 2020. This combined Gala/Conference event is not-to-missed by anyone interested in knowing where the legal profession is heading and who wants to capitalize on coming changes. The conference theme, “Legal Innovation - A Vision for the Future,” is obviously close to my heart as it aligns with my practice innovation mandate. With much to share on that front, I will be leading discussions with legal visionaries as we offer our view of the practice of tomorrow and the innovative approaches that will allow us all to flourish there.

I look forward to hearing from a formidable roster of speakers about the many facets of innovation in law: the evolving technology, processes, firm structures, inclusion and diversity strategies, culture and career paths. The conversations and the ideas that this conference, the YLD Gala, and the OBA’s cutting-edge CPD events generate will be invaluable to lawyers embarking on their careers, as they open their eyes to what is possible. However, early-career lawyers are not the only ones who will benefit from these interactions, nor will they be the only ones responsible for sparking change.

Established lawyers are in an enviable position to effect progress. We are capable not only of seizing opportunities but also of creating possibilities in and for our profession. To squander one’s potential at any age or stage is sad, but to squander one’s power to mentor or to be a catalyst is inexcusable. Come and meet me at the Gala and Conference and tell me how we can work together.