NEWSLETTER – March 2019
Editors – Allen Mendelsohn & Larry Markowitz
Dear Colleagues, Honourable Judges, and Friends of the Society,
The Society’s 70th anniversary season has been exceptional thus far and shows no sign of slowing down!
Our January 31st Annual Student Dinner, featuring an educational and entertaining talk by the Honourable Suzanne Côté, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, was a great success. That evening, we honoured the memory of the late Justice Michael Stober, awarded prizes to exceptional law students from five of the province’s law faculties and celebrated two of our members, an attorney and a student, Donald R. Michelin and Stephanie Perlis, as they received, from Justice Minister Sonia Lebel, le prix du Ministre de la Justice – Lord Reading Law Society Prize for their tireless work on behalf of the Society and beyond, promoting access to justice and human rights..
In addition to our upcoming dinner, the month of March will extend a lifeline to those members who need to complete their remaining CLE credits in the form of our second members-only CLE breakfast of the season, set for March 19th at the offices of Borden Ladner Gervais. The topic will be “Legal Strategies to Protect your Clients from Ever-Sophisticated Fraudsters” and will feature a presentation by BLG attorneys Me Daniel Grodinsky and Me Kevin Mailloux. I would like to thank BLG, and Mes Grodinsky and Mailloux for their generous support.
Our second annual Young Bar CLE event will be a 5 à 7 hosted by the firm of Stein & Stein. This event will take place on Wednesday, April 17th and will feature our very own Allen Mendelsohn, McGill law lecturer and internet law expert, delivering a presentation torn from the headlines on “The Legal and Privacy Implications of Online Cannabis Purchases in Canada”. I would like to thank both the firm of Stein & Stein and Allen for generously donating their premises and time, respectively.
Our next dinner event will take place on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019. For our Annual Henry Steinberg dinner, we are pleased to welcome The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada. To help us re-focus on what is important in the current complex world, Mr. Mulroney will draw on his first-hand experience in the corridors of power and his expert knowledge to talk to us about “Leadership, Free Trade and a Strong Canada”. I have no doubt that this dinner will be memorable and will go down in the annals of the Society as one of the highlights of our 70th anniversary season.
We have received CLE accreditation for one hour from the Barreau du Québec. In addition, this dinner-event is eligible for continuing education credit pursuant to the rules of the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
An early registration discount will be available for Society members who register by Friday, March 8th. You can register online here.
This has been an exciting and memorable year in the Society’s history, but it is far from over, as we have two more exceptional dinner events still ahead of us. Please mark your calendars for:
(1) the annual Alan B. Gold advocacy lecture, on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019, featuring the late Justice Gold’s son, Senator Marc Gold, as guest speaker; and
(2) June 11th, 2019, when we will welcome a good friend of the Society, David Lametti, in his new role as holder of arguably the most important legal position in the country, that of Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada.
I hope you will join us for all these exciting programs and look forward to welcoming you all on March 13th!
Inna Nekhim, President
Advice from the Supreme Court: Building your practice as a young litigator
For our 2019 student dinner, the Lord Reading Law Society had the honour of receiving advice from the highest court in the land, in the form of an address by Madam Justice Suzanne Côté.
The evening of January 31st featured a packed house that included two chief justices, well over a dozen other judges, law school deans and professors, current and former bâtonniers, and law association executives.
However, this being the student dinner, it is perhaps more important that the hall was filled with law students and young lawyers, representing the future of the Society. This younger cohort was kept in rapt attention by the practical advice of our guest speaker, whose talk was entitled, “Building your practice as a young litigator”. Although Justice Côté’s talk was geared to the youngsters in the audience, our older members received a refresher course, replete with reminders of the basic building blocks of a successful legal practice.
Justice Côté was introduced by Society board member Justice Carol Cohen, who described our guest speaker’s humble origins as a small town lawyer in the Gaspé. From the start, Justice Côté was driven: She actually invested in her first law firm, becoming a partner the day she was called to the Bar!
She eventually moved to the Montreal, leading the litigation practices of prominent law firms Stikeman Elliott and Oslers. Then in 2014, she “swapped her black robe for a red robe”, becoming the first woman appointed directly to the Supreme Court of Canada from private practice.
Although her days as a litigator have now ended, Justice Côté remarked that her practice of the art of advocacy continues: She often has to attempt to persuade her eight colleagues on the Court to see things her way!
Similarly, although she no longer has to do business development to bring in new clients and cases, she still does a form of “business development” for the Court by devoting much time to analyzing applications for leave to appeal. After all, the decisions in respect of which leave to appeal is granted form the caseload of the Supreme Court.
Justice Côté divided her practical advice for a successful career into three parts:
1. Build your reputation;
2. Build your expertise; and
3. Build your client relationships.
Build your reputation
As the old adage goes, it takes years to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it.
Justice Peter Cory wrote in Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto,  2 SCR 1130:
A lawyer’s practice is founded and maintained upon the basis of a good reputation for professional integrity and trustworthiness. It is the cornerstone of a lawyer’s professional life.
To build a reputation, you must be honest and ethical with everyone with whom you interact. Do not so much as roll your eyes at an opponent’s argument in court. People will notice!
Take the high road: Don’t embarrass opposing counsel if they make a mistake.
Don’t file abusive proceedings.
Always be meticulously prepared: You should know your case better than the judge and the facts better than your client.
Clear thinking and concise delivery of your arguments are key.
Remember: Your reputation will follow you throughout your career. This can be an asset or a liability, depending on what your reputation is!
Build your expertise
A basic standard of expertise is a prerequisite to the practice of a litigator. After all, a lawyer owes a duty of competence to their client.
Never turn down a chance to prepare a written submission or to appear before any level of court. Early in her career in the Gaspé, Justice Côté often had to wait her turn in the local court. While waiting, she would observe the more experienced litigators and absorb their tricks of the trade.
As you progress in your career, it is important to establish yourself as the “go to” person in a certain area of law. To do this, young lawyers should scope out opportunities to speak at conferences, do pro bono work, teach or even complete a graduate degree in their chosen field of law.
Building client relationships
Clients will hire you on the basis of your accomplishments in the first two categories above, (namely your reputation and your expertise). Being a reputed expert is obviously an effective selling point!
Client service is essential: It is easier to get additional mandates from existing clients than to attract new clients.
When serving clients, never forget the human element. Communication is key: Provide regular updates to clients. The saying that “No news is good news” does not apply here. Silence on the part of counsel can lead to paranoia on the part of clients!
Be accessible to clients. Learn their industry. Visit their offices and factories (but don’t bill them for this time!).
Strive to become your clients’ trusted adviser.
Find ways to add value – for instance, by making helpful introductions.
Always ask yourself, “What are my competitors doing to develop business?” and then do those same things!
Always go the extra mile. The best result is when a client says, “Win or lose, I feel I’ve had my day in court” (though winning is always preferable!).
After leaving us with much practical advice to contemplate, Justice Côté was thanked by the Chief Justice of Quebec, Nicole Duval Hesler, who reminded the more experienced members of the audience that “You’re only old once you give up on your ideals”. Hopefully that qualifies all Lord Reading members as young, regardless of age: Very apt for this, our annual students’ dinner!
A full set of photos from the evening can be found on our Facebook page
A Tribute to Justice Michael Stober
The Hon. Carol Cohen, j.c.s.
On the occasion of the Annual Student Dinner, The Hon. Carol Cohen, j.c.s., delivered a moving tribute to the late Michael Stober, j.c.s. The Society is pleased to reproduce that tribute in its entirety for posterity:
We have chosen to honour the memory of Justice Stober this evening, not only because he was a proud and active member of the Lord Reading Law Society but also, as many here can attest, because he left an indelible mark on all he met, throughout his tenure as a lawyer and as a judge.
Justice Stober was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in February 2011, after a stellar career in criminal law which spanned the country. Indeed, his experience in that sphere was not only widespread but was also completely unique. He represented the Crown here in Quebec and in Alberta; he represented the defense; he represented police officers and the policemen’s brotherhood; and he acted at commissions of inquiry. He was appreciated by his colleagues, by the Court personnel and by the Bar. He was also, as our president mentioned, a natural mentor of young lawyers and of students, like our prize-winners of this evening.
Le juge Stober a obtenu sa licence en droit de l’Université d’Ottawa, où il a gagné la prestigieuse bourse Duff-Rinfret.
Il a ensuite obtenu un Juris Doctor en « common law » à l’Université Dalhousie en Nouvelle-Écosse, et enfin, est retourné à l’Université d’Ottawa, pour y réaliser une maîtrise en droit criminel. He maintained a close link with these universities, but also with universities and law faculties at universities he never attended – he was a guest lecturer at several Montreal universities, including at my own class on criminal law at McGill’s Faculty of Law. Even more telling is the gesture by the University of Calgary, a university he never attended, which took the initiative last fall of establishing an endowment fund in Justice Stober’s honour, which will finance a scholarship to be awarded each year, in his name, to the student with the strongest academic performance in Criminal Process Law. This is certainly a tribute to the high esteem in which he was held throughout Canada, and it underlines the appropriateness of honouring him at our own student dinner this evening.
This esteem was also evident in the hundreds of messages of condolence which were sent and posted online by family, friends, lawyers and judges, after his passing last August. They spoke of his unique legacy, his “tremendous intelligence” and wisdom, his sense of humour, his kind-heartedness, openness, generosity and life-long integrity, as well as his athleticism and “big and ready smile”.
We are honoured this evening with the presence of Justice Stober’s widow, Dr. Audrey Sherman, and one of his sons, Me Jason Stober, and we once again, as a community, extend to them our deepest condolences. Please rise for a moment of silence, in honour of the late Justice Michael Stober.
Save the dates!
Don’t forget these amazing events planned for the rest of the season, so save these dates!
April 17, 2019 – Young Bar Members CLE 5 à 7 featuring Me Allen Mendelsohn
May 2, 2019 – The Alan B. Gold Advocacy Lecture featuring Senator Marc Gold
June 11, 2019 – Dinner-meeting featuring David Lametti, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada
Registration for these events will open in the weeks leading up to those dates, keep an eye on your email for more information.
Events of Interest
The Society is always pleased to point its members to events of interest around the community – especially CLE events.
- The Israel Law and Learn Seminar for Canadian Jurists, in conjunction with the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, is pleased to announce its program for November 2019, “The Legalities of Creating a Modern Nation State”. Details can be found online here.
News from the Mispacha
- To Society Past President Ian Solloway and his wife Louise on the birth of their first grandson, Blake Jaymes Saks, son of Heather Solloway and Adam Saks