NEWSLETTER: February 2022
Editors – Allen Mendelsohn, Larry Markowitz and Stephanie Perlis
Doree Levine, President
(cliquez ici pour lire le mot de la présidente en français)
Dear Colleagues, Honourable Judges, and Friends of the Society,
In our pre-Omicron December newsletter, I was thrilled to announce our return to live events in January 2022. Needless to say, that was a short-lived plan, but was made with the best of intentions, and I remain positive and hopeful that I will be able to welcome you all in person before the summer. In the meantime, we will continue to use the Zoom platform to keep your intellectual appetites satisfied until such time as we can fill your stomachs as well.
Our next lecture is our Annual Student “Dinner”. It will take place on February 10, 2022. We are delighted to welcome Mr. Jay Rosenzweig, trained lawyer, business consultant, entrepreneur, human rights advocate and philanthropist, whose talk is entitled Leveraging Your Law Degree for Social Impact. Mr. Rozenzweig is Chair of the Board of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) and is internationally recognized for the Annual Rosenzweig Report, which assesses the progress of women at the highest levels of corporate Canada.
Mr. Rosenzweig’s talk will be preceded by an introduction from Professor Irwin Cotler, founder of the RWCHR and longstanding friend of the Society.
Our Annual Student dinner is also when we host law students, stagiaires and Barreau students, and present the Lord Reading Law Society annual academic prizes to the deserving winners of McGill, Université de Montréal, UQAM, Université de Sherbrooke and University of Ottawa. I look forward to welcoming the award recipients, as well as representatives from each law faculty.
The event will begin at 5:30 pm with a “virtual cocktail” in break-out rooms on Zoom, to allow you the opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces, greet our students and guests, and enjoy the collegial atmosphere of our dinner events that we miss so much. I encourage all of our members and friends to join us at 5:30 pm to warmly welcome the students and stagiaires to the Society.
Please register at this link. Please note that students and stagiaires are welcome to join free of charge, but must register in order to receive the Zoom link.
I look forward to seeing all of you, and wish you the best of health and joy and a Happy New Year.
Doree Levine, President
Lord Reading Law Society
Justice in the Time of Covid: A Conversation
On December 9th, the Society was delighted to welcome Professor Vardit Ravitsky and The Right Honourable Justice Beverley McLachlin PC CC for an engaging, interactive discussion entitled Justice in the Time of Covid: A Conversation.
The panelists were introduced by Lord Reading Past President Ian Solloway, who shared some fascinating stories about both Professor Ravitsky and Justice McLachlin and highlighted all their obviously extensive qualifications!
This was not the usual talking head lecture, but instead an interactive discussion moderated by Lord Reading President Doree Levine. Doree introduced the format by saying “I had envisioned this as the three of us sitting on a podium with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to have a nice conversation,” and of course while we all wish that were possible, the Zoom format worked quite nicely for the conversation. Doree highlighted some of the effects the pandemic has had on justice and injustice, and noted that we as lawyers have not really had that discussion in depth, so we were very pleased to have the opportunity.
Doree’s first question to the panelists was a broad one – what lessons has the pandemic taught us about injustice in our society? Justice McLachlin replied by calling the pandemic “the great revealer” because it has highlighted the injustices in our legal system – the lack of capacity and lack of resilience in particular. She also described how the pandemic has shed light on the vulnerable in our Society as it relates to justice.
Professor Ravitsky, after noting the work that she and Justice McLachlin and others had done regarding COVID for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (a “Commitment to Action Declaration”), agreed wholeheartedly with Justice McLachlin’s comments. She also stressed it was not just marginalized individuals who have suffered injustice as a result of the pandemic, but marginalized societies. She commented on Canada’s sense of national pride regarding human rights and justice compared to some other countries she has worked in, which made the “great revealer” all the more jarring. She then highlighted six examples of marginalization because of the pandemic, which she described as “compounded vulnerabilities”; these ranged from indigenous health to lack of internet access.
The President then asked Justice McLachlin about the pandemic’s effect on the justice system in particular. Justice McLachlin’s answer focused once again how the pandemic has “revealed” all the endemic problems with the justice system, in particular access and open courts. She described a nightmare scenario – the abused woman who has to seek justice through the internet from her apartment, with her abuser sitting right there. She then called for a rethinking of all the processes of the justice system to more efficiently serve the community, with lessons taken from the pandemic.
Doree’s next question was to Professor Ravitsky about the healthcare system. Professor Ravitsky’s answer talked about numerous parallels with the justice system – “access to health care” is just as affected as “access to justice.” The pandemic has laid bare the issues with the structure of the health care system which had heretofore been mostly hidden.
The panelists then turned to the long-term implications of the pandemic. Justice McLachlin talked about the pandemic compelling the realization that “we are all in this together” – from the local community to the entire world. The vaccine “debate” has forced us to reckon with the divide between what is good for the individual and what is good for the community. Professor Ravitsky then joked that Justice McLachlin seemed to have read her notes for the evening, as she was about to say the same thing and agree with her again! She added that the field of “public health ethics” has always dealt with the interactions between individual and public health, and COVID has made this all the more apparent.
The President then opened the (virtual) floor to questions from the audience who were more than delighted to be able to unmute themselves to ask them! Questions ranged from the impact of technology on the justice system as seen during the pandemic to the line dividing individual liberties and the public good to the impact of COVID on emotional health. The panelists answered all the questions with thoughtful and intelligent insight.
The evening closed with thanks to the speakers from Past President Nancy Cleman and thanks to all the volunteers who make Lord Reading possible from Doree Levine.
The fascinating, informative and entertaining lecture is available online to view for anyone who missed it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the link.
CLE Events of Interest
The Society is always delighted to promote events of interest to our members and friends, especially those providing CLE for lawyers. A couple of upcoming events have attracted our attention this month:
- CIJA’s fifth annual Legal Conference Legal Perspectives 2022 – Rising Antisemitism: Legal Tools to Fight Hate, is an all-day event taking place Tuesday February 15th and has a tremendous lineup of speakers and panelists to discuss this very important and unfortunately timely topic. You can find all the details and information about registering on the event website or the event page on Facebook;
- The English-Speaking Section of the Montreal Bar’s Backstage at the Palace series on February 9th at 6 P.M. presents Lord Reading Past President Ian Solloway’s “War Stories of a Divorce Lawyer, or, How To Live Happily Ever After In The Practice Of Family Law”. More details and registration can be found on the Eventbrite page.
It’s never too late in the season to become a Lord Reading member! Or to renew your membership! You’ll get all our Zoom conferences for free and access to special members-only events. And if we are able to return to in-person events before the summer, you’ll receive discounts on your dinner-meeting prices. You can become a member online here.
To Society Past President Ted Goloff on his recent wedding to Marilyn Takefman.
To the entire Michelin family on the passing of John Michelin. John was the brother of Past President Donnie, father of Society member Janet, and uncle of Past President Heather. May his memory be a blessing.