Interview with Deborah Palter

  • October 13, 2022
  • Interview conducted by David Milosevic

Interview conducted by David Milosevic in June 2022.

Q: Good morning, President Palter, thank you so much for joining the OBA civil litigation section. Before we explore some of the substantive questions, could I ask you to just introduce yourself to our readers? How did you come to be involved with The Advocates’ Society?

A: I'm a partner and commercial litigator at Thornton Grout Finnigan. My firm has a long history of being involved with The Advocates’ Society.  I attended Advocates’ Society education and social events early in my career and was invited to act as faculty as a more seasoned lawyer.

Q: How do you end up running for president of The Advocates’ Society?

A: In terms of process, the first step is to apply to The Advocates’ Society board of directors.  (Invitations to apply are sent to TAS members by e-mail and posted on the TAS website in the fall of each year).  The executive committee consists of four directors on a ladder: a secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and president. Each year, the existing executive committee consults with the board of directors and recommends the election of a new director to the executive committee.  Subject to the board’s approval, that director joins the executive committee and begins the four-year ladder to the presidency.  

In terms of what prompted me to run, I was very committed to and enjoyed being involved in the work of the Society, whether it was teaching advocacy skills or moderating education panels, or working on interventions and policy submissions. Joining the board was an opportunity to give back to the profession by working in an organization whose mission and values around the importance of access to justice aligned with my own. I will also say there was a social and community aspect to my involvement with the Society.  Advocates take on the responsibility of being a voice for others in an adversarial process.  Working closely with other lawyers who understand the unique pressures, challenges and rewards of this type of legal work appealed to me. The presidency was a significant opportunity and responsibility to continue working with our board, our membership and the judiciary toward our common goal of enhancing the administration of justice for the public we serve.  It’s certainly been a great honor and privilege to serve as president.

Q: During your term, what issues have been of particular importance to you?

A: I began my term in June of 2021.  It was a time when advocates had largely adapted to working on remote platforms, but how we would practice long term was still evolving and is still evolving.

In this context of ongoing significant change, there were two issues of particular importance to me. One was advancing access to justice initiatives as we entered a world where optimal use of both remote and in-person advocacy would be possible. The second was maintaining a very strong, connected, and inclusive community of advocates in circumstances where physical distancing measures had kept us apart for so long.