Nothing But the Truth

  • December 12, 2021
  • Direct quotes from a conversation with Marie Henein

Nothing But the Truth, the candid and compelling memoir from renowned criminal defence attorney, senior partner at Henein Hutchison, Marie Henein, formed the basis of a fascinating OBA Community Book Club event in November.

Hundreds of members connected virtually to discuss themes in the book – including public perception of the legal profession and the double-standards that too often plague powerful women – and were treated to a live reading from the author herself, followed by a Q&A session between Henein and OBA President Karen Perron. Participants, who enjoyed the opportunity to pose their own questions, gave the session rave reviews – calling Henein’s words and her story “inspiring” and “empowering.” We’ve culled some of her pithiest soundbites below.


On why she wrote the book

“When you’re in the public eye, you become very two-dimensional … they think you’re impervious; they don’t understand that you’re just like everyone else, that you’re human … I don’t want the bar to be set so artificially high. I did not think that was a good message to send.”

On being a role model

“It does drive me, but it also gives me a great deal of resilience – when I know that if young lawyers are looking at how I’m responding. That they don’t see that you’ve fallen apart, that you’re able to withstand that.”

On traits that helped her in her professional life

“I’m curious by nature; I’m restless by nature, and by that I mean I like to constantly be consuming information and learning new things. I like challenges. I don’t like being underestimated. I’m a fighter.”

On being ‘an outsider’ (as an immigrant and woman in the male-dominated field of criminal law)

“The only way it may have helped me is that you don’t crave necessarily the acceptance that you might otherwise so desperately need. And that allows you perhaps to be more prepared to fight in the way that you have to fight – knowing you might not be liked.”

On perception of the profession

“I don’t think we should be cynical about our profession. I’m not a Pollyanna but I don’t think we should be cynical. There have been extraordinary people that have done extraordinary, meaningful things in our profession and we should be proud of it, not ashamed of it.”

‘I think really we should be much more committed to being more candid about what our job is, about what we do. And I think that will help a great deal in instilling confidence in our justice system.”

On eroding faith in the justice system

“Once you forget that the justice system is there not to protect the majority but, precisely the opposite, to protect the minority from the majority; once you forget that it’s as legitimate as some elected politicians, you begin to lose faith in it. You begin to believe it has no role in our society … that is the biggest threat.”

On balance

“There are a lot of different work environments there …. There’s a million different opportunities that give you different ways to calibrate your life and you have to choose the one that works for you. But I don’t think we need to be subjecting people to the decision that you have to actually equally balance everything.”

On what makes the law ‘fun’ for her

“For me there are really two sources of motivation and interest in this profession. One is the courtroom work. I love it. I find it challenging and I find it fascinating and often unpredictable. And that is very interesting to me … The other part of it for me is engaging with my colleagues. I work in an office, fortunately, with people who I think are brilliant, who are incredibly quirky, who are challenging … so to be able to sit around and have lunch together and just chat about everything is part of the fun for me.”

On giving women “space and a runway”

“It’s difficult, hard especially for young women, when you’re getting a million different messages and you’re not given a moment to breathe and to think about who you want to be.”

“As a profession, we need to support women; we need to allow them to grow in this profession. I think we have a positive obligation, particularly in civil law firms, to promote women, to introduce them to clients, to allow them to develop their practice and not sideline them, and to keep out of their personal life.”

On confidence

“I came in knowing my value. I came in knowing I would work hard. I came in believing I was as good as anybody else. And if I wasn’t, okay then, I’d learn I wasn’t. I was going to be. I was okay to fail.”

“I would love to imbue that in young women coming into this profession – to feel good about themselves and confident, because they are so brilliant and have so much to offer and they should not be second-guessing themselves.”

On “softening”

“I don’t think you need to be told to be softer. I think you need to be told to be who you are and how to be an effective lawyer doing that.”

On failure

“If your fear stops you from doing stuff, you miss out on a lot of opportunities and you don’t challenge yourself and you don’t see what you can achieve. I don’t let the fear of failure inhibit me.”

On strategies for success

“I watched a great deal … I did a lot of appellate work … I would read transcripts … I was constantly trying to learn from everything around me.”

“As you get more senior, you don’t ask less questions, you tend to ask more. You consult more with your colleagues. It is really important to get other people’s views and assessments. And ultimately you make the decision when your gut rests in the right spot.”


Want to hear more? Members can access the video recording of our Book Club conversation with Marie Henein from Your OBA Community hub.