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The Advocates’ Society<br />

WINTER <strong>2023</strong>


05<br />

09<br />

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Chair Chat<br />

Chloe Snider (she/her), Dentons<br />

Report on Biz Dev for Litigators: Sales is NOT a<br />

Four-Letter Word<br />

Eric Morgan (he/him), Kushneryk Morgan LLP, and Kimberly Potter (she/her), Fasken<br />

“Micro-Mentoring” – Good Things Come in Small<br />

Packages<br />

Nathan Sutherland (he/him), Pink Larkin<br />

Discovering Your TRUE COLOURS<br />

Laura Wagner (she/her), Borden Ladner Gervais LLP<br />

Word to the Wise: Imposter Syndrome<br />

Megan Keenberg (she/her), Van Kralingen & Keenberg LLP<br />

The Wrong Stuff Revisited: Tips for avoiding<br />

questions from the bench in <strong>2023</strong><br />

Tamara Ramsey (she/her), Dale & Lessmann LLP<br />

Our Speaker: Michele Romanow, “Dragon” CBC Dragons’ Den and<br />

Co-Founder & Exec Chairman, Clearco<br />

Date: Wednesday, March 8, <strong>2023</strong><br />

Time: 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM (ET)<br />

Location: Toronto, ON<br />

Delivery: Live Online<br />

16<br />

20<br />

24<br />

Reflections on the Appointment of Chief<br />

Justice Tulloch<br />

Compiled by Erin Durant (she/her), Durant Barristers<br />

Practicing Law With ADHD: Call me a JDHD<br />

Devan Marr (he/him), LawPRO<br />

Interview with Melissa N. Burkett LL.M (she/her/elle)<br />

Joe Thorne (he/him), Stewart McKelvey<br />

Editor: Tamara Ramsey (she/her), Dale & Lessmann LLP | tramsey@dalelessmann.com<br />

Deputy editor: Megan Keenberg (she/her), Van Kralingen & Keenberg LLP | mkeenberg@vklaw.ca<br />

The opinions expressed by individual authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Advocates’ Society.<br />

Click here to register today!<br />

<strong>Advocacy</strong> <strong>Matters</strong> Editorial Team: Nadia Chiesa (she/her), WeirFoulds LLP, Erin Durant (she/her), Durant Barristers, and Joe Thorne (he/him), Stewart McKelvey<br />

2 3<br />

This event is complimentary to both members and non-members.


The Advocates’ Society is proud to announce a<br />

new online mentoring program exclusively for TAS members.<br />

A key goal of this new mentoring program is to create a simple way for our Junior Members to<br />

feel more connected to their professional community and obtain some career advice from more<br />

experienced members of the bar. This program model is convenient, efficient and effective:<br />

√<br />

√<br />

√<br />

No long-term commitments.<br />

No extensive questionnaires or matching.<br />

No heavy agendas, minute taking or long-term planning.<br />

Just simple connection and conversation for junior lawyers to get some tips and connect with<br />

someone new.<br />

More information is available on<br />

the TAS mentoring<br />

website page.<br />

NEW TAS<br />


PORTAL<br />

Mentee registration for TAS Junior Members<br />

is now open! Click here!<br />

****At this time, the program is only available in English but we are working with Mentorship Rocket to build a bilingual (English and French) site for later in <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Chair Chat<br />

Chloe Snider (she/her), Dentons<br />

“I am human. Politicians are human.” That is how<br />

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden explained why she<br />

would be leaving the post as New Zealand’s prime<br />

minister. Those words struck me, even though of<br />

course they are obvious. They struck me because<br />

even though I too am human, and litigators are<br />

human, we seem to forget this often. In litigation<br />

(maybe in law more broadly), we often do not see<br />

each other’s humanity. Whether that be the humanity<br />

of our colleagues or the humanity of other<br />

counsel; sometimes we forget even our own humanity.<br />

We demand much of each other, and of<br />

ourselves.<br />

I share Honourable Mr. Strathy’s view that this is<br />

at least in part a result of the myth of the litigator<br />

as “a fearless gladiator… Always in control of their<br />

emotions… Powering through long hours of work<br />

with pride and not breaking a sweat under pressure.<br />

Sometimes wounded, but never defeated…”<br />

This gladiator is far from human.<br />

And so Ms. Arden’s words are a helpful reminder<br />

that even the most accomplished, the most capable<br />

among us, are human.<br />

My hope is that the pieces in this edition of <strong>Advocacy</strong><br />

<strong>Matters</strong> and the work of our committee advance<br />

us on our path to seeing litigators, to seeing<br />

each other, as human.<br />

This edition is jam-packed. Importantly, we celebrate<br />

the appointment of Chief Justice Tulloch, with<br />

contributions from Christine Mainville, Dominique<br />

Hussey, Arleen Huggins and Barbara Brown. They<br />

provide reflections on his service to others and<br />

his “measured, compassionate, and intelligent approach<br />

to law”. We are honoured to be able to celebrate<br />

the elevation of Chief Justice Tulloch during<br />

Black History Month.<br />

We also hear from guest columnist Devan Marr.<br />

He writes about practicing law with ADHD. He<br />

provides some helpful takeaways for those with<br />

ADHD, and education for those without.<br />

In our regular column, Word to the Wise, Megan<br />

Keenberg discusses imposter syndrome. No<br />

doubt many new lawyers feel some self-doubt as<br />

they start their careers (I sure did). Megan’s piece<br />

discusses how we might help more junior lawyers<br />

navigate those doubts without prescribing false<br />

4 5

confidence.<br />

If you’re looking for something lighter – check<br />

out The Wrong Stuff Revisited by Tamara Ramsey,<br />

who shares some tips on how to avoid<br />

questions from the bench by using new technologically<br />

to stonewall.<br />

This edition also includes Joe Thorne’s interview<br />

with Melissa Burkett, a senior litigator with<br />

Alberta Justice, Legal Services Division, based in<br />

Calgary and who sits on TAS’s Alberta Regional<br />

Advisory Committee.<br />

Lastly, we share event reports on recent<br />

events hosted by the 10+ Standing Committee,<br />

“Sales is Not a Four-Letter Word”, “Micro Mentoring”<br />

and “True Colours”.<br />

I am very proud of the amazing work that the<br />

10+ Standing Committee has done so far this<br />

year and am looking forward to our upcoming<br />

events and initiatives.<br />

Get Involved!<br />

Interested in getting more involved with TAS?<br />

Applications are now being accepted for our 10+<br />

Standing Committee.<br />

The 10+ Standing Committee (“10+SC”) seeks<br />

engaged, hard-working volunteers to promote<br />

the interests of mid-career advocates through<br />

planning and implementing information and<br />

networking events, administering <strong>Advocacy</strong><br />

<strong>Matters</strong> newsletter and participating in the work<br />

of The Advocates’ Society (the “Society”).<br />

The Society welcomes applications to 10+ SC<br />

from Society members who are about 8 to 20<br />

years of call. Successful applicants will serve a<br />

two-year term starting June <strong>2023</strong>. Parental and<br />

medical leaves will be accommodated.<br />

Deadline to apply: March 3, <strong>2023</strong> at 11:59 p.m.<br />

(ET)<br />

APPLY FOR 10+ SC for the <strong>2023</strong>/24 TERM<br />


Questions? Please contact Steven Frankel at<br />

sfrankel@dwpv.com<br />

6 7<br />





Report on Biz Dev for Litigators:<br />

Sales is NOT a Four-Letter Word<br />

Eric Morgan (he/him), Kushneryk Morgan LLP, and<br />

Kimberly Potter (she/her), Fasken<br />

Carol A. Albert<br />

Carol’s areas of expertise include<br />

construction, landlord and tenant<br />

and municipal law. She is<br />

particularly qualified to case<br />

manage civil actions, and to hear<br />

motions and conduct arbitrations<br />

and references under the<br />

Construction Act. Carol is an<br />

Honourary Fellow of the Canadian<br />

College of Construction Lawyers.<br />

2021-22<br />

J.D., LL.M. (ADR)<br />

Retired Construction Lien Master, SCJ<br />

Barry H. Bresner<br />

Barry is an arbitrator, mediator and<br />

investigator with over 40 years of<br />

experience handling complex<br />

commercial matters. His expertise<br />

includes shareholder/partnership,<br />

contract interpretation,<br />

environmental liability, commercial<br />

insurance and reinsurance &<br />

franchise disputes. Barry is a Fellow<br />

of the Chartered Institute of<br />

Arbitrators.<br />

2021-22<br />

READERS’<br />

CHOICE<br />

On November 1, 2022, the Management for<br />

Litigators working group of the 10+ Standing<br />

Committee hosted a webinar, ‘Biz Dev for<br />

Litigators: Sales is NOT a Four-Letter Word’.<br />

The speakers were Dhawal Tank and Carmelo<br />

Millimaci, business development and sales<br />

coaches. Kim Potter and Eric Morgan moderated<br />

the event.<br />

The presenters focused on how to apply<br />

a sales mindset to building a legal practice.<br />

Dhawal and Carmelo’s comments were organized<br />

around the key concept of a sales funnel.<br />

In a sales funnel there is an initial broad<br />

reach-out to many potential clients. This is<br />

followed by developing deeper relationships<br />

with a smaller and smaller subset of contacts<br />

who are most likely to provide the kind of<br />

work you want.<br />

Applied to a legal practice, at the top of the<br />

sales funnel are activities like speaking and<br />

writing to large groups. You can then follow<br />

up with other speakers, attendees and readers<br />

with more personalized one-on-one engagements.<br />

Other top tips that Dhawal and Carmelo<br />

presented were:<br />

• Undertake a personal inventory to determine<br />

your qualities that set you apart and<br />

articulate your value.<br />

• Make sure your marketing tactics match<br />

your ideal client, for example, by writing<br />

for the publications your ideal clients<br />

read.<br />

• To avoid feeling uncomfortable with business<br />

development, focus on forming authentic<br />

relationships with individuals rather<br />

than simply making ‘asks’, especially of<br />

new contacts.<br />


416.362.8555 • 1.800.856.5154 • booking@adr.ca • adrchambers.com<br />




“Micro-Mentoring” – Good<br />

Things Come in Small Packages<br />

Nathan Sutherland (he/him), Pink Larkin<br />

Discovering Your TRUE COLOURS<br />

Laura Wagner (she/her), Borden Ladner Gervais LLP<br />

In October 2022, the 10+ Standing Committee<br />

hosted an online panel discussion about<br />

“micro-mentoring.” Before this session, I had<br />

not encountered the term. Once I heard it,<br />

it clicked right away: it put a name to something<br />

that many lawyers may do to some extent<br />

already (intentionally or not). In short,<br />

“micro-mentoring” involves giving or receiving<br />

mentoring through brief, informal encounters,<br />

rather than formal, long term mentoring relationships.<br />

The panelists who helped attendees explore<br />

this practice were Cynthia Kuehl of Lerners LLP,<br />

Fabio Longo of Longo Lawyers, and Sara Scott<br />

of Stewart McKelvey. From their comments, it<br />

was clear they are all passionate and thoughtful<br />

mentors. During the hour-long panel discussion,<br />

they explored how they think about<br />

and practise micro-mentoring.<br />

A key theme was the ways micro-mentoring<br />

can supplement formal mentoring relationships.<br />

Micro-mentoring is more organic and<br />

flexible. The sessions are usually brief or oneoff<br />

meetings, and therefore easier to fit into<br />

lawyers’ schedules. They can address anything<br />

from advocacy skills, to business development,<br />

to the personal vs professional dynamic. A single<br />

mentor can’t be all things to a mentee –<br />

sporadic micro-mentoring sessions can fill the<br />

gaps.<br />

As lawyers we all know how critical mentoring<br />

is, but how hard it is to do well. That may<br />

be because we ask too much of “formal” mentoring.<br />

The panelists explained that we can be<br />

better mentors and mentees if we look at new<br />

ways to think about mentoring relationships.<br />

End note: TAS launched a new mentoring portal in January <strong>2023</strong> to provide<br />

micro-mentoring opportunities for members. As of the writing of<br />

this piece, the program had over 80 mentors from a variety of practice<br />

areas across Canada. Registration on the site is exclusive to TAS members.<br />

Learn more about this new program here.<br />

On December 14, 2022, the Women Advocates Working Group of the 10+ Standing Committee<br />

hosted the “Discovering Your TRUE COLOURS” program. The workshop was facilitated<br />

by Mary DiCaro, a corporate trainer, coach, and motivational speaker. Before attending the<br />

program, participants completed an online survey answering questions about our working<br />

styles and preferences to determine whether we were Inquiring Green, Organized Gold,<br />

Authentic Blue, or Resourceful Orange – as well as our affinities for each of the other three<br />

colours.<br />

The program was held virtually, which allowed<br />

members from across the country to<br />

attend. We learned about the features of<br />

each personality type, and then using examples<br />

from the audience Mary explained<br />

how various combinations play out. It was<br />

remarkable how spot on her descriptions really<br />

were! As a dominant Gold with Green as<br />

a high second, I like golden rules, and order,<br />

and traditions – but then the Inquiring Green<br />

side of me kicks in and asks “but why?”<br />

Yup, that’s me!<br />

The attendees split into four breakout<br />

groups based on our dominant colour, and<br />

we engaged in lively discussions with our<br />

like-minded peers from across the country.<br />

These small group sessions were fascinating<br />

– we had so much in common, although we<br />

didn’t agree on everything as our secondary<br />

colours sometimes kicked in. But by far the<br />

most eye-opening part of the workshop was<br />

at the end when we all came back together as<br />

a group. Each small group presented about<br />

their colour to the rest of the attendees,<br />

providing an invaluable opportunity to learn<br />

from and understand each other’s points of<br />

view.<br />

For myself, the key takeaways were two-<br />

10<br />


fold. First, I learned more about myself – my strengths, and my weaknesses, and how I can<br />

leverage my strengths for the greatest success. Second, I learned more about my peers –<br />

how they might view the world and approach problems differently than I do. Insights from<br />

this session will help me to mentor, lead, and work with people with different dominant<br />

colour traits in a more effective and inclusive manner.<br />


Word to the Wise: Imposter Syndrome<br />

Megan Keenberg (she/her),<br />

Van Kralingen & Keenberg LLP<br />

Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon first<br />

studied by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance<br />

and Suzanne Imes in 1978. They defined it as<br />

“an internal experience of intellectual phoniness”<br />

felt by their sample of professional women,<br />

despite consistent external validation and<br />

evidence of their success and achievements.<br />

The key here is the persistence of self-doubt<br />

despite external evidence to the contrary.<br />

This term has been bandied around a lot in<br />

the legal profession, mostly attributed to newer<br />

lawyers, especially women. It’s billed as a<br />

crisis of confidence. The posited cure is a power<br />

pose and a pep talk about faking it till you<br />

make it. Crucially, this “diagnosis” omits the<br />

necessary element of external evidence to the<br />

contrary.<br />

External evidence to the contrary is hard to<br />

come by in the early years of practice. It takes<br />

years to build up a successful track record,<br />

and the road to success is often littered with<br />

failed strategies, unforeseen contingencies,<br />

bad ideas, and lost cases. Newer lawyers are<br />

constantly stretched outside their comfort<br />

zones, taking on work they’ve never done before<br />

and responsibilities they’ve never shouldered<br />

before. Feeling like you don’t know what<br />

you’re doing, when you really don’t know what<br />

you’re doing, is not a pathology: it is an accurate<br />

self-assessment.<br />

Instead of prescribing false confidence, let’s<br />

simply accept that it is perfectly normal for inexperienced<br />

counsel engaging in legal tasks<br />

for the first time to doubt themselves. Let’s applaud<br />

their introspection and accurate self-assessment<br />

when they tell us they feel like they<br />

are in over their heads or fearful of missing<br />

something important. Let’s ensure they have<br />

resources available to them to navigate unfamiliar<br />

terrain. Let’s normalize asking questions.<br />

Let’s coach them on how to ask better<br />

questions. Let’s be the safety nets they need<br />

until they are ready – and genuinely confident<br />

– to fly on their own.<br />

12 13


The Wrong Stuff Revisited:<br />

Tips for avoiding questions<br />

from the bench in <strong>2023</strong><br />

Tamara Ramsey (she/her), Dale & Lessmann LLP<br />

Tip #6 in the first of the late Justice Catzman’s facetious articles about how to lose appeals<br />

in the Court of Appeal is to never answer a question directly or, better still, at all 1 . In <strong>2023</strong>,<br />

as we continue to hold appeals and other court appearances over Zoom there are so many<br />

1 Catzman, “The wrong stuff: How to lose appeals in the Court of Appeal,” The Advocates’ Society Journal, August 2000. Though focussed on appeals,<br />

Justice Catzman’s tips apply much more broadly to help his readers lose in any court or tribunal. The August 2000 issue of The Advocates’ Journal is now<br />

available on the member-only Journal archive page here.<br />

new ways to try to avoid dialogue with the<br />

judge hearing your argument.<br />

Justice Catzman suggests that you avoid<br />

giving a clear, straightforward answer and<br />

to stonewall, stonewall, stonewall. He provides<br />

some helpful tips for stonewalling<br />

such as talking around the question, taking<br />

the judge to lengthy passages from the<br />

evidence that have nothing to do with the<br />

question, rephrase the question in a manner<br />

more to your liking, and making fun of<br />

the question.<br />

When appearing before the court over<br />

Zoom or similar technology, here are some<br />

new ways to use the technology to your advantage<br />

to avoid questions and meaningful<br />

dialogue with the bench:<br />

Avoid “eye” contact. We all know it is not<br />

real eye contact to stare into the camera,<br />

but the best way to avoid the judge’s gaze is<br />

to never look at the camera. If judges cannot<br />

see the whites of your eyes, then they<br />

cannot interrupt your speechifying to clarify<br />

any of the brilliant points you just made.<br />

Look away. This is a variation on avoiding<br />

eye contact. Simply explain to the judge<br />

that you have multiple monitors and that<br />

you will be reading your submissions, uninterrupted,<br />

from a monitor that you have<br />

strategically placed to your immediate right<br />

or left so that the judge gets to see your<br />

best side profile throughout your submissions.<br />

If you want to screenshare any documents,<br />

you can shake things up by using<br />

a monitor on the opposite side and letting<br />

the judge stare briefly at your opposite ear.<br />

The accidental mute. “You’re on mute”<br />

remains the most overused phrase of the<br />

2020s. When a judge asks a question, you<br />

may want to accidentally on purpose hit<br />

the mute button and keep moving your lips.<br />

The judge may forget the question while<br />

you pretend to provide a brilliant, muted<br />

answer.<br />

Freeze. Literally freeze like a deer in the<br />

headlights. Do not move. If you stay frozen<br />

long enough everyone will blame the technology.<br />

When you finally decide to start<br />

moving again simply pick up in your script<br />

where you left off as if the question never<br />

happened.<br />

Fade into the background. While Zoom<br />

has given us the ability to “enhance” our appearance<br />

and add virtual lipstick, you may<br />

want to take advantage of some of the limits<br />

of the technology. Do not buy a ring light<br />

or rely on the overhead fluorescent lights<br />

of your office to keep everything bright. Sit<br />

in front of the window on a sunny day to<br />

obscure your image as much as possible. If<br />

the judge cannot see you properly you can<br />

pretend that you do not see the judge when<br />

they try to ask you a question.<br />

Be a cat. If all else fails, turn on a cat filter.<br />

No judge is going to ask hard-hitting<br />

questions of a cat.<br />

If none of these tips work to avoid questions,<br />

then you may want to clumsily ignore<br />

all virtual etiquette by jumping in to<br />

answer the question before the judge can<br />

finish asking it. If the judge is not able to<br />

finish the question, you can pounce on the<br />

first few words they uttered as a pretense<br />

to simply repeat your weakest argument.<br />

Your goal is to discourage the judge from<br />

attempting to throw you off track by interrupting<br />

you again.<br />

14 15


Reflections on the Appointment<br />

of Chief Justice Tulloch<br />

Compiled by Erin Durant (she/her), Durant Barristers<br />

On December 19, 2022, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the appointment<br />

of the Honourable Michael H. Tulloch, as Ontario’s new Chief Justice,<br />

stating: “The Honourable Michael H Tulloch is a highly respected<br />

member of Ontario and Canada’s legal community. As he takes on his<br />

new role as Chief Justice of Ontario and President of the Court of Appeal<br />

for Ontario, I wish him continued success. I know he brings a wealth<br />

of experience to the position and will continue to serve Ontarians well.”<br />

Jamaican-born Chief Justice Tulloch is the first Black Canadian<br />

to be appointed to this esteemed position. TAS members Christine<br />

Mainville, Dominique Hussey, Arleen Huggins and Barbara<br />

Brown reflect on Chief Justice Tulloch’s historic appointment.<br />

Christine Mainville (she/her), Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP: I had the honour<br />

of working closely with our new Chief Justice on his two independent<br />

reviews, one on police oversight and the other on street checks, also<br />

known as “carding”. We met with large segments of the population and<br />

key stakeholders from across the province. The issues we were contending<br />

with were highly charged and very divisive. Emotions ran high. But<br />

Justice Tulloch had an impressive ability to connect with people from all<br />

walks of life and from a variety of backgrounds. And by that, I mean not<br />

only people from marginalized and racialized communities who are too<br />

frequently targeted by police, but also people from the policing community–<br />

from police leaders to front line officers and everyone in between.<br />

Even though he was there to look over their shoulders, judge what they<br />

were doing and how, and clear a pathway for change, all clearly respected<br />

him – a sentiment that was not a given, as many indeed expressed.<br />

Chief Justice Tulloch worked arduously to help all sides gain an understanding<br />

of each other’s perspective, without getting any backs up.<br />

People left our numerous public meetings feeling heard and understood.<br />

Stakeholders left our private meetings and interviews with a belief<br />

that he would deal with the issues fairly and reasonably. He masterfully<br />

dealt with various sensitivities and brought people together,<br />

somehow managing to create some consensus on the divisive issues<br />

he opined upon. Truth be told, it was remarkable. He has an ease with<br />

people – all people – and an ability to talk their language all the while<br />

skillfully bringing them together, or at least closer together. I watched<br />

it happen time and time again and believe he will bring those same<br />

skills in the role of Chief Justice. Not merely as it relates to the members<br />

of the Court, or of government, but as it relates to all Ontarians.<br />

Ed. note: After writing this piece, Madam Justice Christine Mainville<br />

was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice.<br />

Dominique Hussey (she/her), Bennett Jones LLP: It is terrific to see Chief Justice<br />

Tulloch ascend to his position. Representation is critical, and the fact<br />

that he is the first Black person to assume the role will, of course, have<br />

a significant and positive impact on practising and aspiring lawyers, and<br />

litigants. The Chief Justice’s tenure will not, however, be defined by his<br />

being “the first”, but by his use of his potent combination of skills and<br />

attributes. In addition to being highly regarded for his legal scholarship,<br />

work ethic, thought leadership, public service and fairness, Chief Justice<br />

Tulloch is approachable, compassionate, and generous with his time in<br />

educating, mentoring, and inspiring lawyers and law students, including<br />

those from equity-seeking communities.<br />

16<br />

16 17

Barbara Brown (she/her), Lenczner Slaght: The Chief Justice is an inspiring<br />

example of what it means to serve others through the law.<br />

As the Chief Justice’s law clerk in 2021-2022, I had ample opportunity<br />

to observe his measured, compassionate, and intelligent<br />

approach to the law. I saw firsthand how he navigates the complexities<br />

in cases: the balance between legal principles and reality;<br />

between the proper application of the law and fairness; and<br />

between what the law can do and what it ought to do. I have no<br />

doubt that this approach to the law will translate into his new role.<br />

The Chief Justice does not take this work lightly. He is someone<br />

who believes fervently in the importance of upholding the<br />

just administration of the law and the need to ensure that the<br />

legal system serves us all while making sure due attention is<br />

paid to the groups that need it most. On this point, it is difficult<br />

to capture the momentousness of his appointment as the first<br />

Black Chief Justice of Ontario. His appointment boosts confidence<br />

in the representation of diversity on the bench. However,<br />

one thing must be clear: it is not his race that qualifies<br />

him for the position; it is his exemplary record of judicial excellence<br />

and his commitment to advancing the cause of justice.<br />

I am confident that his complement of good temperament,<br />

practical optimism, and varied experience will serve us all well.<br />

18<br />

Arleen Huggins (she/her), Koskie Minsky LLP: As the first Black<br />

Judge to be appointed to any appellate Court in all of Canada<br />

in 2012, Justice Tulloch exemplifies excellence and diversity.<br />

The importance of Justice Tulloch’s elevation cannot be understated.<br />

He serves the public not only as a judge preserving<br />

the rule of law, but as someone who has lived experience as<br />

a Black immigrant to Canada, with an in-depth understanding<br />

of the historic and current experiences that the Black community<br />

has, and continues to, sustain, including with the justice<br />

system. He has also served as a prominent role model to Black<br />

children and youth as to what is achievable/possible in spite<br />

of the many challenges they face. Racial and Indigenous diversity<br />

is still lacking on the bench in Canada, and is practically<br />

non-existent at the appellate levels, with a few very recent and<br />

notable exceptions. Justice Tulloch has spoken on many occasions<br />

as to the importance of the public seeing judges from<br />

their own communities when coming to the Court. It is a crucial<br />

component of access to justice. We in the Black legal community,<br />

and in the Black community generally, welcome this important<br />

elevation and eagerly await many more appointments<br />

and elevations of Black Judges in Ontario and across Canada.<br />

Registration for Spring <strong>2023</strong> is just a click away!


Practicing Law With ADHD:<br />

Call me a JDHD<br />

Devan Marr (he/him), LawPRO<br />

“Why did this happen, Devan?”<br />

It was January 2020. After a series of mistakes on files that occurred in short succession, I was<br />

sitting across from the three named partners of the firm. They were concerned.<br />

“I don’t know. Things just fell through the cracks.” Of course, I knew “how” these mistakes happened.<br />

I could lay out the cascade of events that led to them. But I couldn’t articulate “why” they<br />

happened. Or more importantly, why the same type of mistakes kept occurring over, and over,<br />

and over again. Why couldn’t I get my act together? I left that meeting on the lawyer equivalent of<br />

“probation”. I discussed the meeting with my counselor, who I saw every few months to check in. When<br />

asked the classic question, “how did that make you feel?” I gave a surprising response: “Relieved? I know<br />

where the boundaries are now.” This started a discussion about potential ADHD, which, after some<br />

screening questions and an assessment, ended a few months later with a formal diagnosis. I initially<br />

disclosed the diagnosis to a few key people at the firm. They were supportive. Things improved. I was<br />

no longer “on probation.” Learning about my new<br />

diagnosis finally allowed me to understand the<br />

“why,” and (mostly) avoid those recurring mistakes.<br />

Since then, I’ve become much more open about<br />

my status as a “JDHD.” What follows is rooted<br />

heavily in my personal experience of ADHD, and<br />

by no means am I an expert. However, hopefully<br />

my experience can make someone else’s journey<br />

a little bit smoother.<br />

What is ADHD?<br />

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurological<br />

condition with symptoms arising from<br />

impaired executive functions that can affect all<br />

aspects of a person’s life. People with ADHD tend<br />

to have difficulty with motivation, variable focus,<br />

working memory, and impulse control. ADHD is<br />

a terrible name. It is rarely a “deficit” of attention<br />

that’s the problem. It’s the variability of that attention.<br />

There is no identified “cause”, but it is generally<br />

accepted as being genetic. You’re born with it.<br />

What ADHD isn’t!<br />

It is not a moral failing. It is not a question of “will<br />

power”. It is not a monolith. The severity of ADHD<br />

and its symptoms vary and fall along a spectrum.<br />

Some people have serious impairments early on<br />

in life that require significant support and medication<br />

use. Others may have mild symptoms that<br />

might not result in noticeable impairments until<br />

the complexity of balancing life, work, and everything<br />

else overwhelms their ability to cope. Most<br />

will fall in between.<br />

What are some of the challenges as a lawyer practicing<br />

with ADHD?<br />

ADHD brains do not react to the same stimuli<br />

that might motivate a “neurotypical” person which<br />

generally include importance, rewards, and consequences.<br />

Individuals with ADHD tend to be motivated<br />

by tasks that involve one of three things:<br />

1. Novelty;<br />

2. Urgency; and<br />

3. Challenge.<br />

People with ADHD tend to be very bad at administrative<br />

issues like paperwork, time management,<br />

and organization. Regardless of the type of lawyer<br />

you are, bills, dockets, limitation periods, and persnickety<br />

filing requirements are facts of life. They<br />

also rarely hit one of the three motivating factors<br />

of novelty, urgency, or challenge.<br />

Throughout my practice, I struggled with administrative<br />

tasks, like getting bills out, docketing,<br />

and ensuring we scheduled expert reports. I<br />

would leave them to the last minute, causing the<br />

urgency my brain craved. Sometimes this worked.<br />

Sometimes it didn’t.<br />

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They were amazing mentors, colleagues, and friends. The firm truly believed in work life balance. But<br />

there were structural issues inherent in private practice that made me realize that my practice was not<br />

what I wanted. In my current role, I have never been more engaged in my work. I provide litigation support<br />

for external counsel dealing with repair or defence matters on behalf of our Insureds. Every issue<br />

that comes in is either urgent (“We’re in the middle of a motion and counsel just raised this obscure<br />

procedural issue, help!”), novel (“Counsel just raised Ontario’s Bees Act, help!”) or challenging, (“How can<br />

we get around this limitations issue, help!”).<br />

What are some of the benefits as a lawyer practicing<br />

with ADHD?<br />

While we aren’t all “creatives,” we tend to think<br />

differently, allowing us to come at issues from angles<br />

that may not have been immediately apparent.<br />

When you’re “on” you are really “on”. My best<br />

results or praise from clients and bosses came<br />

when a file crossed my desk that was urgent, novel,<br />

or challenging.<br />

Things I’ve learned:<br />

1. Do more of what you’re good at.<br />

The best work I ever did was on files that were<br />

either urgent, novel, or intellectually challenging.<br />

If there is an area of practice, or a type of assignment,<br />

you find yourself gravitating towards, go<br />

after it. Tell your partners, colleagues, and friends<br />

about it.<br />

2. Get rid of what you’re bad at.<br />

Being a mid-level associate can be difficult enough<br />

as you balance new responsibilities. It is even<br />

worse if you are fighting your brain the whole way<br />

along. Don’t be afraid to delegate. If you know<br />

there is a specific task that you hate to do, figure<br />

out a way to get rid of it so you can focus on the<br />

things you are good at.<br />

3. Figure out what you need to succeed. Ask for it.<br />

When I told my firm I had ADHD, they were supportive<br />

but unsure of what that meant for my<br />

practice. So was I. Despite reading half a dozen<br />

books by some of the biggest names in ADHD<br />

research, I didn’t sit down and really assess what<br />

sort of changes might help me in my practice. Ultimately,<br />

asking for help can be intimidating and<br />

feel like a “big ask,” especially if you feel like you<br />

are underperforming. But it’s not a big ask. It’s a<br />

reasonable accommodation.<br />

4. It’s an explanation, but it’s not an excuse.<br />

As lawyers we have significant duties to our clients.<br />

In my case, ADHD helped me understand<br />

the “why” of my mistakes but did not excuse them.<br />

“Sorry, my ADHD made me forget to file your<br />

Statement of Claim on time” is cold comfort to a<br />

client (or LawPRO). You are responsible for modifying<br />

your practice to protect their interests.<br />

5. You deserve to be happy. Even if it’s somewhere<br />

else.<br />

I left my old firm in September 2022 to join LawPRO<br />

as a research lawyer. I miss my former co-workers.<br />

The Wrap Up<br />

Learning about an ADHD diagnosis later in life hasn’t really changed me. Recognizing its impact has<br />

changed how I handle things or manage my practice. I’m doing more of what I’m good at, less of what I’m<br />

bad at, and figuring out the things I need to succeed. Importantly, being open about it helps combat the<br />

stigma, and has resulted in friendships with other JDHD’s across the country and beyond. And of course,<br />

I wrote this article just a few hours before it was due to be submitted.<br />

22<br />


Q. TV/movie lawyer you most relate to and why?<br />

A. Maxine Shaw from Living Single. She was one of the first Black female lawyers that I had ever seen<br />

on TV and she unapologetically wore her hair in braids and locs. Over the years, I’ve become more<br />

comfortable styling my hair how I want to style it; not letting the idea of conformity dictate my choice.<br />


Q. Biggest pet peeve?<br />

A. Inconsistent formatting in a document.<br />

Melissa N. Burkett, LL.M (she/her/<br />

elle), Alberta Justice, Legal Services<br />

Division, Civil Litigation<br />

Joe Thorne (he/him), Stewart McKelvey<br />

Q. Pets: Yes? No? What kind?<br />

A. I’ve never really been a pet person but I once had a guinea pig when I was a kid.<br />

Q. What gives you sanity?<br />

A. Music and having a good laugh session with friends and/or family.<br />

Melissa N. Burkett is a senior litigator with Alberta Justice, Legal Services Division, based in Calgary, where<br />

she represents and advises the Crown, ministries, and boards in litigation, administrative, regulatory,<br />

and arbitral proceedings. She is experienced in matters such as judicial reviews, complex commercial<br />

disputes, construction disputes, energy disputes, and environmental liability matters. Melissa has appeared<br />

as lead or co-counsel before all levels of court in Alberta and in Manitoba, the Federal Court of<br />

Appeal, the Federal Court, the Tax Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and various<br />

tribunals and boards. She also acts as Inquiry Counsel appointed pursuant to the Alberta Fatality Inquiries<br />

Act. Melissa is the recipient of the 2021 Women in Law Leadership Award for Leadership in the<br />

Profession (In-House/Government) and the 2022 Calgary Black Chambers Achievement Award in Law.<br />

Melissa is also a member of The Advocates’ Society Alberta Regional Advisory Committee.<br />

Q. Any pre-game rituals before court?<br />

A. I listen to some particular songs to get in the zone and then I give myself a pep talk before I<br />

head to the hearing.<br />

Q.Podcast recommendation?<br />

A. 99% Invisible. It’s about design and architecture.<br />

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Q.Restaurant recommendation for out of<br />

town counsel?<br />

A. I love Bridgette Bar in the Beltline!<br />

Q. During your commute to work you<br />

are...?<br />

A. On the C-train listening to music and scrolling<br />

through Twitter. My commute is only about<br />

25 minutes door to door.<br />

Q. How long from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you first look at your<br />

phone?<br />

A. Around 30 minutes, and only to double check that I haven’t forgotten about a scheduled call<br />

or a meeting that morning.<br />

Q. Most proud moment as a litigator?<br />

A. Probably my first time making submissions solo at an appeal court. I was still pretty junior and<br />

practising in Winnipeg. I was appearing for the first time at the Federal Court of Appeal. When the<br />

Court called for a break, the supervising partner advised the panel that he thought I was doing<br />

great on my own, that I didn’t need him babysitting me, and that he was going to head back to the<br />

office. The panel agreed. That was a pretty cool experience and that’s when it started to click that<br />

maybe litigation really was for me. (It was nice to win that case as well.)<br />

Q. Your best advice for young litigators just starting out?<br />

A. The most important part of advocacy is preparation and knowing your case inside out. Your advocacy<br />

style develops over time, but being prepared will always matter most. Also, be active in your own<br />

development. Seek out as many opportunities as you can and try out as many things as you can.<br />

Q. Most embarrassing moment as a litigator?<br />

A. Pick any one of the many times that I have spilled<br />

coffee on myself during a questioning.<br />

Q. Your key to staying healthy in a<br />

stressful profession?<br />

A. Setting and maintaining boundaries.<br />

Knowing how to (respectfully) defend yourself.<br />

Having hobbies and activities outside<br />

of work. Taking vacation or time off!<br />

Q.You have been recognized with a number of awards in recent years - the 2021 WILL Award<br />

for Leadership in the Profession and the 2022 Calgary Black Achievement in Law Award.<br />

What do these awards mean to you?<br />

A. Both awards are very meaningful to me. As I said during both of my acceptance speeches, I (like many<br />

women lawyers and, especially, women lawyers of colour) frequently enter corporate or legal spaces<br />

and feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, or unsafe. Being nominated for the WILL Award, and then actually<br />

winning it, was some recognition that people like me exist in those spaces, belong in those spaces, and<br />

that there are people who want us in those spaces for what we contribute to the legal profession in Alberta.<br />

With respect to the Calgary Black Chambers Award, I was honestly blown away by the caliber of<br />

winners and nominees in all of the categories. There is a strong and vibrant community of Black people<br />

in Calgary who are doing amazing things in the areas of Medicine, STEM, the Arts, Community Service,<br />

Business and Entrepreneurship, etc. It was great to see it on display. I was honoured that someone<br />

thought that my contributions merited inclusion among that distinguished list.<br />

Q. What word or phrase do you most overuse?<br />

A. I’m told that I start a lot of sentences with “Listen, …” – but never in court, of course.<br />

Q. Have these awards had any impact on how you approach your career?<br />

A. If I’m being honest, though, I don’t think either award has really had any significant impact on<br />

how I approach my career (nor should they). I’ve always felt that lawyers have an obligation to give<br />

back to the legal community and to the general public at large. That hasn’t changed and neither<br />

has my volunteering and community involvement. The goal of having a truly inclusive legal profession<br />

still remains. If being a recipient of these awards helps in normalizing seeing Black people<br />

in the legal profession, great. If it gives a Black lawyer the confirmation and confidence that we<br />

belong, even better. Other than that, I’m more focused on what steps and actions I and others can<br />

contribute to achieving these goals. Both awards are nice to look at though, so there’s that.<br />

Q. Favourite vacay spot?<br />

A. I love exploring cities. NYC is my favourite,<br />

Paris and Amsterdam are close behind.<br />

Q. Preferred social media platform?<br />

A. Definitely Twitter.<br />

Q.We found this video link for your 2022 Calgary Black Chambers Achievement Award. Can<br />

we share it with our readers?.<br />

A. Ah Google… sure…. I’ve come to terms with its existence.<br />

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