Description: An institution within The Advocates' Society and the profession since 1982, The Advocates’ Journal features articles on law and practice, in-depth interviews with leading advocates, thought-provoking commentary, tributes, and much more.

Description: An institution within The Advocates' Society and the profession since 1982, The Advocates’ Journal features articles on law and practice, in-depth interviews with leading advocates, thought-provoking commentary, tributes, and much more.


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Vol. 42, No. 1. | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong>

Arbitration Place is proud to celebrate our globally<br />

recognized roster of arbitrators and mediators<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Vol. 42, No. 1; <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Hon. Robert Armstrong<br />

K.C.<br />

Louise Barrington<br />

FCIArb<br />

Pierre Bienvenu<br />

Ad. E.<br />

Hon. Ian Binnie<br />

K.C.<br />

Hon. Robert Blair<br />

K.C.<br />

Hon. Edward Chiasson<br />

K.C., FCIArb<br />

Tina Cicchetti<br />

Farley Cohen<br />

FCIArb<br />

Hon. Thomas Cromwell<br />

C.C.<br />

27<br />

Hon. Douglas Cunningham<br />

O.C., O.Ont, K.C.<br />

Robin Dodokin<br />

FCIArb<br />

Alan D’Silva<br />

Hon. Gloria Epstein<br />

K.C., L.L.D.<br />

Stanley Fisher<br />

K.C.<br />

L. Yves Fortier<br />

C.C., O.Q., K.C., L.L.D.<br />

Douglas Harrison<br />

FCIArb<br />

Patricia Jackson<br />

L.S.M.<br />

John Judge<br />

Hon. Russell Juriansz<br />

Megan Keenberg<br />

Hon. Barry Leon<br />

FCIArb<br />

Jeffrey Leon<br />

L.S.M., FCIArb<br />

Gavin MacKenzie<br />

David McCutcheon<br />

C.Arb<br />

John Lorn McDougall<br />

K.C., FCIArb<br />

Hon. Colin McKinnon<br />

K.C.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Rt Hon. Beverley McLachlin<br />

P.C., C.C., CStJ, FCIArb<br />

Lisa Munro<br />

FCIArb<br />

Hon. Frank Newbould<br />

K.C.<br />

Hon. Dennis O’Connor<br />

O.C., O.Ont, K.C.<br />

Neils Ortved<br />

Q. Arb<br />

Hon. Laurence Pattillo<br />

Dancia Penn<br />

O.B.E, K.C.<br />

Harry B. Radomski<br />

Joel Richler<br />

FCIArb<br />

Marshall Rothstein<br />

K.C.<br />

From the Editor<br />

3 26<br />

Town mouse<br />

Neha Chugh<br />

An all-encompassing approach<br />

J. William Rowley<br />

K.C.<br />

Peter Ruby<br />

FCIArb<br />

Hon. Robert Sharpe<br />

Hon. George Strathy<br />

Anne Marie Whitesell<br />

Hon. Warren Winkler<br />

O.C., O.Ont., K.C.<br />

To learn more about our rosters, please contact us at<br />

arbitrationplace.com/our-roster<br />

To inquire for roster member availability for arbitration, mediation<br />

or mock trials please contact bookings@arbitrationplace.com<br />

An interview with <strong>The</strong> Honourable<br />

Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin<br />

Une entrevue avec l’honorable<br />

juge Michelle O’Bonsawin<br />

Jacqueline Horvat and/et Dianne Corbiere<br />

Mentorship: <strong>The</strong> advocate’s duty<br />

Peter W. Kryworuk and Jacob R.W. Damstra<br />

6 31<br />

13<br />

40<br />

Our adversary system:<br />

What advocates don’t ask<br />

Anna S.P. Wong<br />

Classics from the vault:<br />

Some observations on the<br />

art of advocacy<br />


Come experience our world-class service<br />

Rethinking credibility<br />

Cheryl Woodin, Anil K. Kapoor, and Sidney Brejak<br />

19<br />

Les classiques du coffre- fort :<br />

Quelques observations<br />

sur l’art du plaidoyer<br />

Joanie Lapalme and/et Michael Shortt<br />

Appointing Authority • Court Reporting • Translation and Interpretation • Document Management Systems<br />

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THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 1



Hanging out<br />


<strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2023</strong>; Vol. 42, No. 1.<br />

Editor<br />

Linda Rothstein, LSM, ASM | Linda.Rothstein@paliareroland.com<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Andrea Gonsalves | andreag@stockwoods.ca<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>: cite as Adv J<br />

Production Editor<br />

Sonia Holiad | sholiad@rogers.com<br />

Editorial Correspondence<br />

Linda Rothstein, LSM, Paliare Roland Barristers<br />

155 Wellington St West 35th Floor<br />

Toronto, ON, M5V 3H1<br />

Linda.Rothstein@paliareroland.com | 416-646-4327<br />

Advertising and Subscription Correspondence<br />

Robin Black<br />

robin@advocates.ca | 1-888-597-0243 x.108<br />

Creative Director<br />

Jessica Lim | jessical@advocates.ca<br />

Kim Burton | jkburton64@gmail.com<br />

Paintings, Illustrations, and Photography<br />

Delaney Cox: cover, p. 19<br />

Ryan Little: pp. 13, 27, 41<br />

Anna Macquistan: pp. 7, 32<br />

<strong>The</strong> opinions expressed by individual authors are their own<br />

and do not necessarily reflect the policies of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong><br />

Society.<br />

Publications Mail Commercial Sales Agreement No. 40019079<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> is printed in Canada and is published four<br />

times a year by <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society, 250 Yonge St, Suite 2700,<br />

Toronto, Ontario, M5B 2L7. Distributed free to all members of the<br />

Society. Contents copyright © <strong>2023</strong> by <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society.<br />

Second class registration number 5941, paid at Scarborough.<br />

Contents may be reproduced only with written authorization of<br />

the authors and acknowledgment of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>. <strong>The</strong><br />

editors do not assume responsibility for the loss or return of<br />

manuscripts, photographs, or illustrations.<br />

1965-66 J. J. Robinette, QC, ASM<br />

1966-67 <strong>The</strong> Hon. R. F. Reid<br />

1967-68 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice R. S. Montgomery<br />

1968-69 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice P. Cory<br />

1969-71 W. B. Williston, QC, ASM<br />

1971-72 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice W. D. Griffiths<br />

1972-73 C. F. McKeon, QC, ASM<br />

1973-74 A. E. M. Maloney, QC, ASM<br />

1974-76 P. B. C. Pepper, QC, LSM<br />

1976-77 H. G. Chappell, QC<br />

1977-78 W. S. Wigle, QC<br />

1978-79 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice J. J. Fitzpatrick<br />

1979-80 E. A. Cherniak, KC, LSM, ASM<br />

1980-81 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice J. W. O’Brien<br />

1981-82 T. H. Rachlin, QC<br />

1982-83 K. E. Howie, QC, ASM<br />

1983-84 J. P. Nelligan, QC, LSM, ASM<br />

1984-85 Peter Webb, KC, LSM<br />

1985-86 Bert Raphael, QC, LSM<br />

1986-87 A. D. Houston, KC<br />

1987-88 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice J. R. R. Jennings<br />

1988-89 R. A. Stradiotto, KC, LSM<br />

1989-90 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Peter G. Jarvis<br />

1990-91 John F. Evans, KC, LSM<br />

1991-92 Terrence J. O’Sullivan, LSM<br />

1992-93 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Eleanore A. Cronk<br />

1993-94 Roger Oatley<br />

1994-95 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Mary Anne Sanderson<br />

Caroline Abela<br />

Bernard Amyot, AdE<br />

Lisa Belcourt<br />

Simon Bieber<br />

Hilary Book<br />

Sean Boyle<br />

Frank Cesario<br />

David D. Conklin<br />

Kirsten Crain<br />

President: Peter W. Kryworuk<br />

Vice-president: Dominique T. Hussey<br />

Treasurer: Darryl A. Cruz<br />

Secretary: Sheree Conlon, KC<br />

Executive Director: Vicki White<br />

James Doris<br />

Andrew Faith<br />

Craig Ferris, KC<br />

Linda Fuerst<br />

Sheila Gibb<br />

Peter Henein<br />

Scott C. Hutchison<br />

Lara Jackson<br />

Najma Jamaldin<br />



1995-96 C. Clifford Lax, KC, LSM<br />

1996-97 Margaret A. Ross, LSM<br />

1997-98 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Harriet Sachs<br />

1998-99 Michael F. Head<br />

1999-00 James A. Hodgson<br />

2000-01 Ronald G. Slaght, KC, LSM, ASM<br />

2001-02 J. Bruce Carr-Harris, LSM<br />

2002-03 Philippa G. Samworth, ASM<br />

2003-04 Jeffrey S. Leon, LSM<br />

2004-05 <strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Benjamin Zarnett<br />

2005-06 Linda Rothstein, LSM, ASM<br />

2006-07 Michael E. Barrack<br />

2007-08 Michael Eizenga, LSM<br />

2008-09 Peter J. E. Cronyn<br />

2009-10 Sandra A. Forbes<br />

2010-11 Marie T. Henein, LSM<br />

2011-12 Mark D. Lerner<br />

2012-13 Peter H. Griffin, LSM<br />

2013-14 Alan H. Mark<br />

2014-15 Peter J. Lukasiewicz<br />

2015-16 Martha A. McCarthy, LSM<br />

2016-17 Bradley E. Berg<br />

2017-18 Sonia Bjorkquist<br />

2018-19 Brian J. Gover, LSM<br />

2019-20 Scott Maidment<br />

2020-21 Guy J. Pratte, AdE, LSM<br />

2021-22 Deborah E. Palter<br />

Cynthia Kuehl<br />

Robin Lepere<br />

Craig Lockwood<br />

Jennifer McAleer<br />

Christine Mohr<br />

Ira Nishisato<br />

Lillian Y. Pan, KC<br />

Tamara Prince<br />

Luisa Ritacca<br />


1982-90 Moishe Reiter, QC<br />

1991-2008 David Stockwood, QC, LSM<br />

2008-20 Stephen Grant, LSM, ASM<br />

Michael G. Robb<br />

Scott Robertson<br />

Sylvie Rodrigue, AdE<br />

Stephen G. Ross<br />

Jeff Saikaley<br />

John Sorensen<br />

Ann L. Stoner<br />

Linda Rothstein, LSM, ASM<br />

“<strong>The</strong> lawyer does well from time to time to lift his eyes from his desk and look<br />

out of the window on the wider world beyond. <strong>The</strong>re can be a too sedulous devotion<br />

to the text books of the law and I do not commend the example of Chief Baron Palles<br />

who is said to have taken Fearne on Contingent Remainders with him on his honeymoon.”<br />

~ Lord Hugh Macmillan, Law and Letters (1930) 16 ABAJ 662, 663<br />

Fearne on Contingent Remainders: It’s<br />

enough to make me give up the practice<br />

of law.<br />

I came across this quote as part of my due<br />

diligence on Lord Macmillan, whose writing<br />

is featured in this issue as part of our Classics<br />

from the Vault series. As Joanie Lapalme and<br />

Michael Shortt explain, Lord Macmillan had<br />

lots to say about advocacy that still resonates<br />

some 90 years later. His deadpan humour –<br />

just another feature of his writing that keeps<br />

us paying attention.<br />

But here’s the thing: Once I stopped laughing<br />

at poor Fearne, once I thought about why Lord<br />

Macmillan’s joke landed so well, it started to<br />

rankle.<br />

For the record, at the time of either of my<br />

own two honeymoons, I would have chortled<br />

with self-satisfied superiority at the suggestion<br />

that work invaded this closely guarded<br />

personal time. I would have reassured myself,<br />

especially when my kids were young, that<br />

I rigorously policed the boundary between<br />

work and home. As a new mom in the late ‘80s<br />

and ‘90s, I was morally certain that my survival<br />

– and the survival of my family – depended<br />

on my ability to focus only on work at work<br />

(no calls from the nanny except on her way to<br />

a hospital) and my equally strong superpower<br />

to slam the door on work once I crossed the<br />

threshold of our home.<br />

But, of course, that was then – before I routinely<br />

pasted my smartphone to my body (yoga pants<br />

with invisible pockets), jammed earbuds into<br />

my ears to take a call from a new client, threw a<br />

laptop and an iPad into my backpack, and marched<br />

to the office – reassuring myself that this multitasking<br />

routine counts as “a walk.”<br />

I am older than most of you reading these<br />

pages so, luckily, I do have some limits: I am<br />

reasonably certain that I will not be persuaded<br />

to maximize the health benefits of my walk by<br />

subscribing to WHOOP. For those not yet targeted<br />

by its online ads, WHOOP is the latest,<br />

most advanced fitness and health “wearable”<br />

available. Which means it monitors your every<br />

breath and movement – awake and asleep – 24/7.<br />

Okay. So we can draw the line at digital<br />

self-surveillance. But let’s be honest: Whether<br />

the pull is work, family, or highly choreographed<br />

leisure time (get in that workout),<br />

staring out the window or sitting on a park<br />

bench feels increasingly frivolous.<br />

All of which is a roundabout way of saying, I<br />

think Sheila Liming is on to something. Liming<br />

is the author of Hanging Out: <strong>The</strong> Radical Power<br />

of Killing Time (New York: Melville House,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>). She argues that we are all losing our<br />

“daring to do nothing much,” especially in the<br />

company of others. She calls for more, much<br />

more, hanging out: “more parties, more shared<br />

meals, more in-person gatherings, more latenight<br />

conversations, more being together<br />

in public, more cooperation, more standing<br />

shoulder to shoulder, more social revelry.”<br />

Bring on social revelry!<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s a whole chapter on hanging out on<br />

the job, which charts the slow post-COVID<br />

death of casual, spontaneous workplace conversations.<br />

Fortunately, Liming doesn’t insist<br />

on a rigid divide between work and not<br />

work. For example, she makes the point that,<br />

yes, networking at conferences is often mostly<br />

about the “work” embedded in that term and<br />

not its first syllable – the connecting part. And<br />

she reminds us that professional conferences<br />

2 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 3


are almost always at their best when there’s lots<br />

of time to hang out between the panels. Have<br />

you done that lately? I have not.<br />

It should come as no surprise that in the past<br />

year or so <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society has struggled<br />

mightily to get us back to continuing professional<br />

development in person, not just on Zoom. In<br />

our time-starved lives, I too opt for online CPD<br />

so I can fold the laundry or chop the onions and<br />

garlic for the Bolognese while I absorb the latest<br />

updates on the law of evidence. I tell myself it<br />

beats Fearne on Contingent Remainders on your<br />

honeymoon.<br />

Or does it?<br />

***<br />

Back to Lord Macmillan. Law geeks will remember<br />

that his reasons in Donoghue v Stevenson get less<br />

credit for transforming the law of negligence<br />

than do those of Lord Atkin and his articulation<br />

of the “neighbour principle.” But at least one of<br />

Lord Macmillan’s sentences is still the starting<br />

point of every novel negligence argument: “<strong>The</strong><br />

categories of negligence are never closed.”<br />

We are delighted to feature an interview by<br />

Treasurer Jacqueline Horvat and Dianne Corbiere<br />

of Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin as she describes<br />

her journey to the Supreme Court of Canada. In<br />

recognition of Justice O’Bonsawin’s first language,<br />

the interview, which was conducted in<br />

English, also appears in French.<br />

And there’s much more: a thoughtful interrogation<br />

of the tenets of our adversary system, a<br />

critique of the way we assess witness veracity,<br />

and a shout-out to advocacy careers in smaller<br />

cities. Finally, in one of his last official roles, our<br />

president, Peter Kryworuk, champions the advocate’s<br />

duty to mentor.<br />

Surely something here will spur a casual conversation<br />

with someone interesting. But if not,<br />

please go find a beach or a dock or a park and take<br />

your time to dreamily stare at the distance.<br />



• Content: We value articles about advocacy and advocates<br />

that are topical and crackle with currency.<br />

• File format: We accept submissions only in Microsoft<br />

Word format.<br />

• Length: Although we appreciate concision, there is no<br />

maximum or minimum length for <strong>Journal</strong> articles. <strong>The</strong><br />

majority of our articles are between 1,500 and 3,500<br />

words (excluding notes), but we will consider articles<br />

outside this range.<br />

• Notes: We prefer articles without notes, but whether to<br />

include notes is at the author’s discretion. (All direct<br />

quotations should be referenced, however, whether<br />

in the body of the article or in notes.) If you include<br />

notes with your submission, we prefer endnotes to<br />

footnotes. When reviewing notes after completing the<br />

final draft, double-check that cross-references (“ibid.,”<br />

“supra”) haven’t changed because of late additions or<br />

deletions of text.<br />

• Citation format: We do not insist on a particular citation<br />

style. If you include citations, we trust that you will<br />

ensure they are accurate, complete, current and internally<br />

consistent. In particular, check that citations to Internet<br />

sources refer to web addresses that are valid as of the<br />

date of the submission. If a cited web address is no longer<br />

valid, we expect you to make note of this in the citation.<br />

Sidney Brejak<br />

Sidney Brejak is currently an articling<br />

student at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto.<br />

Sidney studied at the University of Windsor<br />

Faculty of Law and is looking forward to<br />

developing his litigation practice.<br />

Neha Chugh<br />

Neha Chugh is a criminal, family, and child<br />

protection lawyer at Chugh Law in Cornwall,<br />

Ontario. She is a mom of three active kids<br />

and a PhD student at Concordia University.<br />

Neha is the 2022 Catzman Award winner.<br />

Dianne Corbiere<br />

Dianne Corbiere has been a bencher of the<br />

Law Society of Ontario since 2015. She is the<br />

managing partner of the firm Nahwegahbow<br />

Corbiere. Dedicated to working for First<br />

Nations, Dianne has vast experience in<br />

Aboriginal law, specializes in Treaty and<br />

Aboriginal rights, and represents First<br />

Nations across Canada, mostly in Ontario.<br />

Jacob R.W. Damstra<br />

Jacob is a trial, administrative, and appellate<br />

advocate practising at Lerners LLP in<br />

London, Ontario. As the product of generous<br />

legal, judicial, academic, military, and public<br />

service mentorship, he is committed to paying<br />

it forward through teaching, coaching, and<br />

mentoring.<br />

Jacqueline Horvat<br />

Jacqueline Horvat was elected as treasurer of<br />

the Law Society of Ontario in June 2022. She<br />

is the sixth woman treasurer in the 225-year<br />

history of the Law Society. She is a litigation<br />

lawyer and a founding partner of Spark Law,<br />

a seven-lawyer full-service firm with offices<br />

in Toronto and Windsor.<br />

Anil K. Kapoor<br />

Anil K. Kapoor practises in the areas of<br />

criminal law, national security law, and<br />

regulatory and professional discipline law at<br />

Kapoor Barristers in Toronto.<br />

Peter W. Kryworuk<br />

Peter Kryworuk currently serves as president<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society. He is a senior<br />

partner and Health Law Group leader at<br />

Lerners LLP. Peter enjoys spending his free<br />

time with family and friends and a glass of<br />

fine wine at his cottage on Lake Huron.<br />

Joanie Lapalme<br />

Joanie is a partner with Fasken’s Montreal<br />

office, where she practises intellectual<br />

property law. She also teaches IP at the<br />

Université de Sherbrooke, which allows her<br />

to be exposed to – and benefit from – her<br />

students’ fresh perspectives on the law.<br />

Michael Shortt<br />

Michael Shortt is a partner with Fasken’s<br />

Montreal office, where he practises<br />

intellectual property law, as well as official<br />

language rights litigation. Having recently<br />

become a father for the second time, he is<br />

too sleep-deprived to add the customary<br />

flash of wit.<br />

Anna S.P. Wong<br />

Anna S.P. Wong is legal counsel at the College<br />

of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. A<br />

recent year spent abroad gave her a newfound<br />

appreciation for vast spaces and central air.<br />


Free Member Resource Library<br />

Only TAS Members enjoy exclusive access to this<br />

selection of archived TAS content 24/7<br />

Visit www.advocates.ca to get exclusive<br />

access!<br />

• Authorship: Include your name and email address at<br />

the top of your article. Be sure to list any co-authors.<br />

Thank you,<br />

Linda Rothstein, Editor<br />

Andrea Gonsalves, Managing Editor<br />

Sonia Holiad, Production Editor<br />

Cheryl Woodin<br />

Cheryl is a partner at Bennett Jones LLP and<br />

was called to the bar in both Ontario and<br />

British Columbia. She is a litigator with a<br />

broad civil law practice.<br />

4 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 5


An interview with <strong>The</strong> Honourable<br />

Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin<br />

Une entrevue avec l’honorable juge<br />

Michelle O’Bonsawin<br />

On Justice O’Bonsawin’s background<br />

Law Society of Ontario Bencher Corbiere: Can you please<br />

tell us about your journey to access your nation’s teachings,<br />

culture, and language, which you didn’t really have access to<br />

growing up, and why they are important to you?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I think there were many events that happened<br />

throughout my life that led me to that journey. When<br />

I grew into my teens, my family had a stronger link with<br />

Odanak. My eyes opened wider at that time, and I sought more<br />

information about my culture.<br />

Specifically, I remember one meeting that I had with Evelyn<br />

O’Bonsawin, who was an Elder from our community and<br />

a cousin of my father. She was heavily involved in the fight<br />

for Bill C-31, with regard to our community women regaining<br />

their status after they married a non-Indigenous person and<br />

the issues surrounding that. That, for me, was really an important<br />

awakening as an Indigenous woman, to hear Evelyn<br />

talk about the fight and to experience those teachings from her.<br />

And then, afterward, when I moved to Ottawa, I became<br />

very involved. It was a whole new experience, where I was<br />

able to really learn from my Anishinaabe cousins and Elders<br />

about their practices and their teachings.<br />

<strong>The</strong> other thing that was important for me was to learn my<br />

language. When the pandemic started, community members<br />

began Abenaki language teachings. I was fortunate because the<br />

pandemic, which was very difficult at the beginning, gave me<br />

virtual access to my language. I did not have that access before.<br />

Afterward, I was able to continue language classes because<br />

Odanak started offering them online as well.<br />

6 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

Jacqueline Horvat and/et Dianne Corbiere<br />

Sur les antécédents de la juge O’Bonsawin<br />

Conseillère Corbiere du Barreau de l’Ontario : Pouvez-vous nous<br />

parler de votre parcours pour accéder aux enseignements, à la<br />

culture et à la langue de votre nation, auxquels vous n’aviez pas<br />

vraiment accès en grandissant, et pourquoi ils sont importants<br />

pour vous?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Je pense qu’il y a eu de nombreux<br />

évènements tout au long de ma vie qui m’ont menée à ce parcours.<br />

Lorsque j’ai atteint l’adolescence, ma famille avait un<br />

lien plus fort avec la communauté d’Odanak. Mes yeux se sont<br />

ouverts plus grands à ce moment-là et j’ai cherché à en savoir<br />

plus sur ma culture.<br />

Plus précisément, je me souviens d’une rencontre avec Evelyn<br />

O’Bonsawin, qui était une ainée de notre communauté et<br />

aussi une cousine de mon père. Elle était fortement impliquée<br />

dans la lutte pour le projet de loi C-31, en ce qui concerne la<br />

réintégration des femmes de notre communauté après leur<br />

mariage avec une personne non autochtone, et les questions<br />

qui s’y rattachent. Le fait d’entendre Evelyn parler de la lutte<br />

et de recevoir ces enseignements de sa part a vraiment été<br />

une prise de conscience importante pour moi en tant que<br />

femme autochtone.<br />

Ensuite, lorsque j’ai déménagé à Ottawa, je me suis beaucoup<br />

impliquée. C’était une toute nouvelle expérience, qui m’a<br />

permis d’apprendre de mes cousins et ainés anichinabés au sujet<br />

de leurs pratiques et leurs enseignements.<br />

L’autre chose qui était importante pour moi était d’apprendre<br />

ma langue. Lorsque la pandémie a commencé, les membres de<br />

la communauté ont commencé à enseigner la langue abénaquise.<br />

My journey has been a long one. It was not automatic because<br />

I didn’t grow up in a community, so I had to go out and<br />

find the teachings. I still have a long way to go, but it is a priority<br />

for me.<br />

Bencher Corbiere: Can you also talk about the importance of<br />

the French language and culture, and being a francophone?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: Being an Indigenous woman is extremely<br />

important to me – it is a huge part of my identity and community.<br />

But being a francophone woman is also significant.<br />

My background is important because, like everyone who has<br />

different experiences and a diverse background, it shapes how<br />

you look at things.<br />

Coming from Northern Ontario and being a francophone is<br />

meaningful to me and those in my community. It is important<br />

that our children speak French and that “la Francophonie” is<br />

a part of their identity. Growing up, my children watched TV<br />

only in French, and they did not learn English until they were<br />

in Grade Two.<br />

We want to live in our language, we want to learn in our language<br />

when we go to school. I did all my schooling in French,<br />

even the French Common Law program. It was only while I<br />

completed my master’s and PhD that I studied in English. All<br />

of my university studies, with those exceptions, were in French.<br />

I’ve always been of the view that if I have the option to be<br />

served in French or English, I’ll ask to be served in French. I<br />

normally speak French, but if people speak to me in English,<br />

J’ai eu de la chance, parce que la pandémie, qui a été très difficile<br />

au début, m’a donné accès à ma langue de façon virtuelle.<br />

Je n’avais pas cet accès auparavant. Par la suite, j’ai pu continuer<br />

les cours de langue parce qu’Odanak a commencé à les<br />

offrir en ligne.<br />

Mon parcours a été long. Cela n’a pas été automatique, car je<br />

n’ai pas grandi dans une communauté, j’ai donc dû aller chercher<br />

les enseignements. J’ai encore beaucoup de chemin à faire,<br />

mais c’est une priorité pour moi.<br />

Conseillère Corbiere : Pouvez-vous également parler de l’importance<br />

de la langue et de la culture francophone, et du fait<br />

d’être francophone?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Le fait d’être une femme autochtone est<br />

extrêmement important pour moi, c’est une partie importante<br />

de mon identité et de ma communauté, mais être francophone<br />

est également important. Mes antécédents sont importants,<br />

parce que, comme tous ceux qui ont des expériences différentes<br />

et un parcours diversifié, tout cela façonne la façon dont vous<br />

voyez les choses.<br />

Le fait de venir du nord de l’Ontario et d’être francophone est<br />

significatif pour moi et pour les membres de ma communauté.<br />

Il est important que nos enfants parlent français et que la<br />

francophonie fasse partie de leur identité. En grandissant, mes<br />

enfants ne regardaient la télévision qu’en français et ils n’ont<br />

pas appris l’anglais avant d’être en deuxième année.<br />

Nous voulons vivre dans notre langue, nous voulons apprendre<br />

dans notre langue quand nous allons à l’école. J’ai fait<br />

toutes mes études en français, même le programme de common<br />

law en français. Ce n’est que lorsque j’ai travaillé sur ma<br />

maitrise et mon doctorat que j’ai étudié en anglais. Tous mes<br />

études universitaires, à ces exceptions près, se sont déroulées<br />

en français.<br />

J’ai toujours été d’avis que si j’ai le choix d’être servie en<br />

français ou en anglais, je demanderai à être servie en français.<br />

Je parle normalement en français, mais si on me parle en anglais,<br />

je réponds en anglais. Je pense que si nous n’utilisons pas<br />

nos droits linguistiques en français, nous les perdrons, il est<br />

donc essentiel pour moi de poursuivre dans cette voie.<br />

Trésorière Horvat du Barreau de L’Ontario : J’aimerais vous poser<br />

une question qu’on me pose souvent : « Vous n’êtes que dans<br />

la quarantaine, comment réussissez-vous à faire tout cela? »<br />

Lorsque cette question est posée à un homme, elle est posée de<br />

manière positive, mais lorsqu’elle est posée à une femme, elle<br />

peut avoir une connotation négative.<br />

Tout d’abord, comment répondez-vous à ce type de questions?<br />

Deuxièmement, comment pensez-vous que votre âge<br />

relativement jeune influence la façon dont vous abordez les<br />

questions juridiques?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Honnêtement, avoir l’air plus jeune dans<br />

ma situation n’est pas toujours un avantage. C’est malheureux<br />

de dire cela, et c’est pire pour une femme.<br />

Lorsque j’ai commencé à travailler à la Cour supérieure, dans<br />

les couloirs, on me prenait parfois pour une avocate. Ce n’est<br />

pas facile, surtout quand on commence comme juge, parce<br />

qu’on a toujours l’impression qu’il faut faire ses preuves. J’ai<br />

constaté qu’il y avait des gens d’un certain âge qui n’étaient<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 7

I’ll respond in English. My view is that if<br />

we don’t use our French language rights,<br />

we will lose them. So it’s essential to me<br />

to continue with that.<br />

Law Society of Ontario Treasurer<br />

Horvat: I would like to ask<br />

you a question that I am asked<br />

often: “You’re only in your forties.<br />

How can you be doing all<br />

this?” When that question is<br />

asked of a man, it is asked in a<br />

positive way. But when asked<br />

of a woman, it can have a negative<br />

connotation.<br />

So, first, how do you deal with those<br />

types of questions? And, second, how<br />

do you think your relatively young<br />

age shapes the way you approach legal<br />

issues?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I’ll be honest and<br />

tell you that, being where I am and looking<br />

younger, at times, is not an advantage.<br />

It’s unfortunate to say that, and it’s<br />

worse for a woman.<br />

When I started on the Superior Court,<br />

at times in the hallways I was mistaken<br />

for counsel. It’s not easy, especially when<br />

you start out as a judge, because you are<br />

“You have to look at the files without bias,<br />

but your background is where you find<br />

your unique perspectives.”<br />

always feeling that you have to prove<br />

yourself. I found that there were people<br />

of a certain age who were not as respectful<br />

to me while I sat on the bench, because<br />

of the age factor – because I was<br />

young, and I looked young. I was 43<br />

years old when I was appointed to the<br />

Superior Court.<br />

For me, now, joining the Supreme<br />

Court, I feel that my age is an advantage<br />

because I’m accustomed to reading a lot<br />

and I’m able to work through plenty of<br />

the material thanks to the energy that I<br />

have – not to say that others don’t have<br />

it. I think it is an advantage to be younger<br />

because of your stamina.<br />

I would also like to add<br />

that, as a woman, it is difficult<br />

to find work-life balance.<br />

It is not always easy to<br />

juggle things. I have not always<br />

been successful at it, so<br />

I don’t want anyone to think<br />

that O’Bonsawin has the key<br />

to success. I don’t. My goal<br />

is to be the best wife, mother,<br />

past lawyer, and judge that I can be. I try<br />

to balance it all, the best as I can.<br />

On being a good judge,<br />

and judicial training<br />

Treasurer Horvat: To be a good judge,<br />

one needs to be impartial. But one’s<br />

personal experience is the background<br />

that shapes the perspective<br />

that is brought to the table. How do<br />

you balance the unique perspectives<br />

and experiences that you bring to your role while also<br />

remaining impartial?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: For any judge, the first rule is that you<br />

must be impartial. Being a judge is your first obligation. You<br />

have to look at the files without bias, but your background is<br />

where you find your unique perspectives.<br />

Your obligation is to be neutral and to render a decision based<br />

on how the facts, how the argument, how the evidence are<br />

presented to you. You do that also through the lens of your<br />

lived experience and your perspective as a person. I think that<br />

everyone, no matter who they are, has their own experiences<br />

and perspective that they bring to the job. I don’t think it is<br />

unique to me or to anyone else.<br />

Treasurer Horvat: As an active member of the Indigenous and<br />

francophone communities, how do you see your role, as a<br />

judge, in helping to raise awareness among Canadians? What<br />

sort of engagement, if any, do you envision outside the courtroom?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: My role has always included being an<br />

educator. My role as a lawyer was to educate as many people<br />

as I could — people in the legal field, but also social workers<br />

and medical professionals, with regard to mental health issues<br />

and, specifically, legal mental health issues. Within that area,<br />

Indigenous Peoples were a key focus.<br />

As a lawyer, I have always self-imposed the obligation to be<br />

part of that process, to try to educate as many people as I could<br />

travailleurs sociaux et les professionnels de la santé, en ce qui<br />

concerne les questions de santé mentale et les questions juridiques<br />

de santé mentale. Dans ce cadre, les populations autochtones<br />

ont été au centre de mes préoccupations.<br />

En tant qu’avocate, je me suis toujours imposé l’obligation<br />

de participer à ce processus, pour essayer d’éduquer le plus<br />

grand nombre de personnes possible sur ces questions. En tant<br />

que juge, j’ai fait de même.<br />

J’ai parlé haut et fort de la nécessité de sensibiliser la magistrature<br />

aux principes Gladue – comment ils fonctionnent,<br />

comment ils devraient être pris en compte et pourquoi ils sont<br />

obligatoires en vertu du Code criminel. Il y a plusieurs occasions<br />

où les principes Gladue sont obligatoires, mais ils ne<br />

semblent pas toujours être au premier rang des préoccupations<br />

des juges. C’est un sujet sur lequel je continue à travailler et sur<br />

lequel je fournis de l’information. Je travaille avec différents<br />

comités et organismes pour aborder ces questions.<br />

Je ne vais pas arrêter ce travail. En effet, j’espère contribuer à<br />

la production de publications sur ces questions.<br />

Conseillère Corbiere : Nous parlons de la charge supplémentaire<br />

que représente le fait d’être la première, et des<br />

responsabilités qui y sont associées. Estimez-vous qu’en tant<br />

que première personne autochtone à siéger à la Cour suprême<br />

du Canada, vous avez certaines responsabilités?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Je ne sais pas si j’ai des responsabilités en<br />

tant que telles, car cela signifierait que j’ai des arrière-pensées,<br />

pas très respectueux envers moi lorsque<br />

je siégeais à la cour, en raison de mon<br />

âge, parce que j’étais jeune et que j’avais<br />

l’air jeune. J’avais 43 ans lorsque j’ai été<br />

nommée à la Cour supérieure.<br />

D’après moi, maintenant que je me joins<br />

à la Cour suprême, mon âge<br />

est un avantage. J’ai l’habitude<br />

de lire beaucoup et mon énergie<br />

me permet de passer à travers<br />

beaucoup de matériel —<br />

ce qui ne veut pas dire que les<br />

autres ne le font pas. Je crois<br />

que c’est un avantage d’être<br />

plus jeune parce qu’on a plus<br />

d’endurance.<br />

Je voudrais également ajouter<br />

qu’en tant que femme,<br />

il est difficile de trouver un équilibre<br />

entre la vie professionnelle et la vie<br />

privée. Il n’est pas toujours facile de jongler<br />

les choses. Je n’ai pas toujours réussi,<br />

et je ne voudrais pas que l’on pense<br />

que madame O’Bonsawin détient la clé du<br />

succès. Ce n’est pas le cas. Mon objectif<br />

est d’être la meilleure épouse, la meilleure<br />

mère, la meilleure avocate et la meilleure<br />

juge que je puisse être. J’essaie d’équilibrer<br />

tout cela, du mieux que je peux.<br />

8 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

Être une bonne juge et<br />

la formation judiciaire<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Pour être un bon juge,<br />

il faut être impartial, mais l’expérience<br />

personnelle est le contexte qui façonne la<br />

perspective qui est mise de l’avant.<br />

« En tant que juge, vous devez examiner<br />

les dossiers de manière impartiale, mais c’est<br />

dans vos antécédents que vous trouvez<br />

vos points de vue uniques. »<br />

Comment conciliez-vous les perspectives<br />

et les expériences uniques que<br />

vous apportez à votre rôle tout en restant<br />

impartiale?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Pour tout juge, la première<br />

règle de droit est l’impartialité.<br />

Être juge est votre première obligation. Il<br />

faut examiner les dossiers sans parti pris,<br />

mais c’est dans vos antécédents que vous<br />

trouvez vos points de vue uniques.<br />

Votre obligation est d’être neutre et<br />

de rendre une décision en fonction de la<br />

façon dont les faits, l’argument et la<br />

preuve vous sont présentés. Vous le<br />

faites aussi à partir de votre expérience<br />

de vie et de votre propre perspective en<br />

tant que personne. Je crois que<br />

chacun, peu importe qui, apporte<br />

à son travail sa propre<br />

expérience et son propre<br />

point de vue. Je ne pense<br />

pas que cela me soit propre<br />

ou soit propre à qui que ce<br />

soit d’autre.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Comme<br />

membre active des communautés<br />

autochtones et francophones,<br />

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en tant que juge, envers la sensibilisation<br />

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Juge O’Bonsawin : Mon rôle a toujours<br />

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d’avocate consistait à sensibiliser le plus<br />

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about these issues. As a judge, I have done the same.<br />

I have been vocal about the need to educate the judiciary<br />

about Gladue principles – how they work, how they should be<br />

considered, and why they are mandatory under the Criminal<br />

Code. <strong>The</strong>re are quite a few occasions where Gladue principles<br />

are mandatory, but they do not always seem to be at the front<br />

end of judges’ minds. That is something I continue to work on<br />

and provide education about. I work with a number of different<br />

committees and organizations to talk about these issues.<br />

I am not going to stop this work. I am actually hoping to help<br />

produce publications about such issues.<br />

Bencher Corbiere: We talk about the extra burden of being the<br />

first, and the responsibilities that are associated with that. Do<br />

you feel that, as the first Indigenous person on the Supreme<br />

Court of Canada, you have certain responsibilities?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I don’t know if I have responsibilities per<br />

se, because that would mean I would have an agenda. But there<br />

is a burden. To be honest, I do feel weight on my shoulders. I<br />

feel there are certain files in front of us in which, when decisions<br />

are issued, my participation will be looked at through a<br />

magnifying glass.<br />

What I would remind people of is that I have a voice. I have<br />

always used my voice, but now I am one voice of nine, which<br />

is not as easy as being a voice of one when you’re in Superior<br />

Court, or one of three in Divisional Court. So, I do feel pressure,<br />

but it is a pressure that comes with the job and it comes<br />

with who I am. I am going to step up to the plate and do the<br />

best that I can.<br />

Treasurer Horvat: What qualities do you believe make an<br />

effective advocate?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: First, being a good writer is really important,<br />

because it’s the first impression that I have of counsel.<br />

Well-written documents are key and, if they are written without<br />

mistakes, that’s even more important because it shows me<br />

that the person took the time to properly write something, to<br />

edit it, and to ensure it was perfect before giving it to me. So,<br />

excellent writing skills are essential.<br />

Second, make sure that you guard your reputation. I think<br />

that is extremely important for lawyers because once you lose<br />

that reputation, you do not get it back. Always be mindful of<br />

how you are dealing with opposing counsel and others in the<br />

legal community. That is especially important if you want to be<br />

a judge in the future because those who review your application<br />

not only check the references you provide but also call a<br />

number of other people in the legal community.<br />

So, make sure that you are humble in how you deal with<br />

others, and be mindful of others.<br />

Third, ensure that you have prepared your case as if it is the<br />

first case you’ve ever prepared. <strong>The</strong> reason is that when you<br />

are starting off, you prepare everything, you read everything,<br />

and you know your case inside out. You do not know what to<br />

expect on the other side. I have always lived and died by that<br />

motto: “Prepare every case as if it is your first one.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> fourth piece of advice is to know your case and not be<br />

married to the script. Make sure that you can argue the case<br />

without looking at your notes constantly. <strong>The</strong> judge may ask<br />

mais il y a un fardeau. Pour être honnête, je sens un poids sur<br />

mes épaules. J’ai le sentiment que certains dossiers sur lesquels<br />

nous travaillons entraineront un examen à la loupe de ma<br />

participation lorsque les décisions seront rendues.<br />

Je voudrais rappeler aux gens que j’ai une voix. J’ai toujours<br />

utilisé ma voix, mais maintenant je suis une voix de neuf, ce qui<br />

n’est pas aussi facile que d’être une seule voix, lorsqu’on est à<br />

la Cour supérieure, ou la voix de trois en Cour divisionnaire. Je<br />

ressens donc une certaine pression, mais c’est une pression qui<br />

va de pair avec le travail, et elle vient avec qui je suis. Je vais<br />

m’atteler à la tâche et faire de mon mieux.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Quelles sont, selon vous, les qualités d’un<br />

bon avocat?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Tout d’abord, il est très important d’être un<br />

bon rédacteur, car c’est la première impression que j’ai d’un<br />

avocat. Des documents bien rédigés sont essentiels, et s’ils sont<br />

rédigés sans erreurs, c’est encore plus important, parce que<br />

cela me montre que la personne a pris le temps de bien écrire<br />

son document, de le modifier, et de s’assurer qu’il était parfait<br />

avant de me le donner. Donc, d’excellentes compétences en<br />

rédaction sont essentielles.<br />

Deuxièmement, assurez-vous de protéger votre réputation,<br />

et je pense que pour les avocats, c’est extrêmement important,<br />

parce qu’une fois que vous perdez cette réputation, vous ne<br />

pouvez pas la récupérer. Soyez toujours attentif à la façon dont<br />

vous traitez avec l’avocat de la partie adverse et avec les autres<br />

membres de la communauté juridique. C’est particulièrement<br />

important si vous souhaitez devenir juge à l’avenir, parce qu’ils<br />

ne vérifient pas seulement les références fournies sur le formulaire<br />

de candidature, mais ils appellent un certain nombre<br />

d’autres personnes dans la communauté juridique.<br />

Veillez donc à faire preuve d’humilité dans vos relations<br />

avec les autres, et soyez attentifs aux autres.<br />

Troisièmement, efforcez-vous de préparer chaque cas comme<br />

si c’était votre premier cas. La raison en est que lorsque vous<br />

débutez, vous préparez tout, vous lisez tout et vous connaissez<br />

votre dossier sur le bout des doigts. Vous ne savez pas à quoi<br />

vous attendre de l’autre côté. Ma devise a toujours été de « préparer<br />

chaque cas comme s’il s’agissait du premier. »<br />

Le quatrième conseil est de ne pas trop s’attacher au scénario<br />

et de connaitre votre cas à fond. Assurez-vous que vous pouvez<br />

plaider votre cause sans avoir à regarder constamment vos<br />

notes. Le juge peut vous poser des questions qui vous déconcertent<br />

et vous ne pouvez pas nécessairement vous retrouver<br />

dans vos notes.<br />

Cinquièmement, je vous conseille de demander à quelqu’un<br />

d’autre de relire ce que vous avez écrit avant de le soumettre.<br />

Tous les conseils que je viens de donner sont aussi pertinents<br />

pour les avocats qui comparaissent en première instance que<br />

pour ceux qui comparaissent devant nous à la Cour suprême.<br />

Conseils aux nouveaux avocats<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Souvent, lorsque les jeunes et les nouveaux<br />

avocats reçoivent des conseils, on leur dit comment ils devraient<br />

se conformer, ou qu’ils devraient se conformer. Quelle est votre<br />

approche avec les jeunes qui apportent des perspectives différentes?<br />

Comment peuvent-ils apporter leurs propres perspectives<br />

à la pratique du droit et être assez courageux pour ne pas<br />

you questions that throw you off, and you cannot necessarily<br />

find your way back through your notes.<br />

<strong>The</strong> fifth piece of advice is to get someone else to review<br />

what you’ve written before you submit it.<br />

All the advice that I just provided is as relevant for advocates<br />

appearing at the trial level as it is for those appearing in front<br />

of us at the Supreme Court.<br />

Advice for new lawyers<br />

Treasurer Horvat: Often, when young people and new lawyers<br />

receive advice, they are told how they should conform, or that<br />

they should conform. What is your approach with young people<br />

who bring different perspectives? How can they bring their<br />

own perspectives to the practice of law and be brave enough<br />

not to simply conform?<br />

“Be mindful of how you treat others<br />

because that is how you are going<br />

to be seen going forward.”<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I have never been a conformist, and I<br />

have always told those whom I mentor to be yourself and don’t<br />

forget who you are, because if you change who you are, you’re<br />

not true to yourself in your beliefs and your values. <strong>The</strong> best<br />

piece of advice is to be yourself. Do not forget who you are and<br />

where you come from.<br />

One of the things I would always tell new lawyers, and I<br />

have said it at the Supreme Court with my clerks, is that you<br />

must be respectful to your legal assistant because the legal<br />

assistant is your right-hand person. That person is going to<br />

cover you and make sure you have what you need. <strong>The</strong>y are<br />

essential to your work and success.<br />

In my mind, legal assistants are at an equal level, and I’ve<br />

always treated my legal assistant as a partner. I think, unfortunately,<br />

many young lawyers tend to forget that.<br />

For me, a part of the key to success is how you deal with<br />

people. You respect people, you get respect back. If you are not<br />

nice to someone, they will not be nice to you. It all goes back<br />

to your reputation. Be mindful of how you treat others because<br />

that is how you are going to be seen going forward.<br />

Treasurer Horvat: Looking back at your legal career, is there<br />

anything you would do differently?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: No! No, really there isn’t. I have been fortunate<br />

to have had a great career as in-house counsel. I was fortunate<br />

throughout my career as a litigator to work on awesome<br />

files. It was stimulating. For example, I went from being a pure<br />

labour, employment, human rights lawyer at Canada Post to<br />

going to the Royal [Ottawa Health Care Group] and specializing<br />

in mental health and forensic law.<br />

I really enjoyed every moment of my career. Of course, there<br />

are things you are disappointed about along the way. I think<br />

that is normal, but there is nothing that would make me change<br />

my trajectory from where I first started to where I am now.<br />

se contenter de se conformer? Quelle est votre approche avec les<br />

jeunes ayant des différents points de vue?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Je n’ai jamais été conformiste. J’ai toujours<br />

conseillé à ceux que j’encadre d’être eux-mêmes et de ne pas<br />

oublier qui ils sont, parce que si vous changez qui vous êtes,<br />

vous n’êtes pas fidèle à vous-même, à vos croyances et à vos<br />

« Soyez conscients de la façon dont vous traitez<br />

les autres, car c’est ainsi que vous serez perçus<br />

par la suite. »<br />

valeurs. Le meilleur conseil est d’être vous-même. N’oubliez<br />

pas qui vous êtes, d’où vous venez, soyez humbles et attentifs<br />

aux autres.<br />

J’ai oublié d’ajouter une chose que j’ai toujours dite aux nouveaux<br />

avocats, et je l’ai fait à la Cour suprême avec mes greffiers,<br />

et c’est de toujours être respectueux envers votre adjoint juridique,<br />

car cet adjoint est votre bras droit. Cette personne va<br />

vous accompagner et s’assurer que vous disposez de ce dont<br />

vous avez besoin. Cette personne est essentielle à votre travail<br />

et à votre réussite.<br />

Dans mon esprit, les adjoints juridiques sont des égaux et j’ai<br />

toujours traité mon adjoint comme partenaire. Je pense que,<br />

malheureusement, de nombreux jeunes avocats ont tendance<br />

à oublier ça.<br />

Pour moi, la clé du succès réside en partie dans la manière<br />

dont on traite les gens. Quand on respecte les gens, on est respecté<br />

en retour. Si vous n’êtes pas gentil avec quelqu’un, il<br />

ne sera pas gentil avec vous. Tout revient à votre réputation,<br />

soyez attentifs à la manière dont vous traitez les autres, car<br />

c’est ainsi que vous serez perçus par la suite.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : En repensant à votre carrière juridique,<br />

y a-t-il quelque chose que vous feriez différemment?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : Non! Vraiment, je ne changerais rien.<br />

J’ai eu la chance d’avoir une excellente carrière en tant<br />

qu’avocate-conseil. J’ai eu la chance, en tant qu’avocate<br />

plaidante, de travailler sur des dossiers exceptionnels, du début<br />

à la fin de ma carrière. Cela a été stimulant. Par exemple, je suis<br />

passée de simple avocate en droit du travail, droit de l’emploi<br />

et en droits de la personne à la Société canadienne des postes à<br />

avocate en santé mentale et en médecine légale au Royal.<br />

J’ai vraiment apprécié chaque moment de ma carrière. Bien<br />

sûr, il y a des choses qui vous déçoivent en cours de route. Je<br />

crois que c’est normal, mais il n’y a rien qui me ferait changer<br />

de trajectoire depuis mes débuts jusqu’à aujourd’hui.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Quelle marque espérez-vous laisser au tribunal?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : J’espère repartir avec la réputation d’être<br />

quelqu’un qui était bien préparé pour entendre les demandes,<br />

qui a rédigé des décisions qui étaient bien considérées et qui a<br />

10 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 11


GO GREEN!<br />

Did you know TAS Members<br />

have the option of digitalonly<br />

delivery of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>? Simply<br />

log on to your TAS Member<br />

profile at www.advocates.ca<br />

and opt-in for the Digital<br />

<strong>Journal</strong>.<br />

Need help? Email us at<br />

membership@advocates.ca<br />

and we are happy to assist.<br />

#GoGreen<br />

Treasurer Horvat: What mark do you<br />

hope to leave on the Court?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I’m hoping to leave<br />

with a reputation for being someone who<br />

was well prepared to hear matters, who<br />

wrote decisions that were well regarded,<br />

and who moved the law forward in a<br />

way that benefited society.<br />

I hope to be seen as a value-added judge<br />

who contributed in a positive, progressive<br />

way, because I think moving the law forward<br />

is critical for the Supreme Court of<br />

Canada. To remain static is simply not good.<br />

Treasurer Horvat: Do you have anything<br />

else you want to tell the readers of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I would like to mention<br />

mentorship, and how it played a<br />

key role throughout my career. I’ve been<br />

fortunate to have had different mentors<br />

over the course of my professional life.<br />

It doesn’t matter where you are in your<br />

career. You can always find and benefit<br />

from mentorship. Everyone can gain<br />

from mentorship.<br />

fait avancer le droit d’une manière qui a<br />

profité à la société.<br />

J’espère être considérée comme une<br />

juge à valeur ajoutée qui a apporté une<br />

contribution positive et progressiste. Je<br />

crois qu’il est essentiel pour la Cour<br />

suprême du Canada de faire progresser<br />

le droit. La stagnation n’est tout simplement<br />

pas acceptable.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Aviez-vous autre<br />

chose à dire aux lecteurs de la publication<br />

« <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> »?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : J’aimerais mentionner<br />

le mentorat et le rôle clé qu’il a joué tout<br />

au long de ma carrière. J’ai eu la chance<br />

d’avoir différents mentors au cours de<br />

ma vie professionnelle.<br />

Peu importe où vous en êtes dans<br />

votre carrière, vous pouvez toujours<br />

trouver un mentor et en bénéficier. Tout<br />

le monde peut tirer profit du mentorat.<br />

J’ai eu un mentor pendant mes dix années<br />

de pratique en droit de la santé mentale.<br />

Certains diraient, « Non, vous êtes<br />

censé apprendre cela par vous-même, »<br />

I had a mentor during my ten years in<br />

the mental health law part of my practice.<br />

Some would say, “No, you’re supposed<br />

to learn this on your own.” But I have<br />

gained great knowledge through the different<br />

mentors I had throughout my life.<br />

For those counsel out there, be mindful<br />

that mentorship is something positive.<br />

It should not be seen as being weak or<br />

as needing someone to help you. That<br />

is something I want to share with readers.<br />

Mentorship is always something<br />

positive.<br />

Treasurer Horvat: Do you have any final<br />

words for our readers?<br />

Justice O’Bonsawin: I hope that my story<br />

will inspire others. Maybe some think<br />

that because they come from a particular<br />

community, or a diverse community,<br />

they can’t make it all the way up.<br />

I have always said that I was not necessarily<br />

the first one that people would<br />

think would make it to the Supreme<br />

Court of Canada. I worked hard and<br />

worked my way up. Everything is possible.<br />

It’s doable!<br />

mais j’ai acquis de grandes connaissances<br />

grâce aux différents mentors que j’ai eus<br />

tout au long de ma vie.<br />

Pour les avocats, gardez à l’esprit que<br />

le mentorat est quelque chose de positif.<br />

Il ne faut pas percevoir une personne<br />

mentorée comme une personne<br />

étant faible ou ayant besoin d’aide. C’est<br />

quelque chose que je veux partager avec<br />

les lecteurs. Le mentorat est toujours<br />

quelque chose de positif.<br />

Trésorière Horvat : Avez-vous un dernier<br />

mot pour nos lecteurs?<br />

Juge O’Bonsawin : J’espère que mon histoire<br />

inspirera les autres. Certains pensent<br />

peut-être que, parce qu’ils viennent d’une<br />

communauté particulière, ou d’une communauté<br />

diversifiée, ils ne peuvent pas se<br />

rendre jusqu’au bout.<br />

J’ai toujours dit que je n’étais pas<br />

nécessairement la première personne<br />

dont on pensait qu’elle arriverait à la<br />

Cour suprême du Canada. J’ai travaillé<br />

fort et j’ai gravi les échelons. Tout est<br />

possible, c’est faisable!<br />

Mentorship: <strong>The</strong> advocate’s duty<br />

<strong>The</strong> authors would like to thank their summer student and Law<br />

Practice Program mentee, Sanan (Sunny) Mirza, for his invaluable<br />

research assistance in the preparation of this article.<br />

In Homer’s epic poem <strong>The</strong> Odyssey, during Odysseus’s long<br />

journey home following the Trojan War, Athena – the goddess<br />

of knowledge, wisdom, and civilization – took interest in<br />

his success and undertook to watch over his son, Telemachus.<br />

<strong>The</strong> goddess assumed the form of Odysseus’s friend, a human<br />

elder named Mentor, offering the young Ithacan prince guidance,<br />

advice, and instruction on a quest to find his wandering<br />

father. Here, the concept of “mentorship” and the “mentor”<br />

as an experienced and trusted advisor providing benevolent<br />

guidance to a younger, less proficient pupil finds its origin.<br />

As 21st-century advocates, far removed from the mythical<br />

adventures of the ancient Greeks written 3,000 years ago,<br />

our need for a judicious, caring mentor on our own journeys<br />

through the practice of law is just as pressing. In a 2010 Ottawa<br />

Law Review article on “Mentoring the Lawyer,” Veronica<br />

Ashenhurst aptly noted:<br />

Mentorship is a central component of a lawyer’s education:<br />

it involves a reciprocal relationship between a senior and<br />

junior lawyer, fostered in the workplace or broader professional<br />

community. Today, the Canadian legal profession is<br />

devoting significant energy to creating formal mentoring<br />

programs beyond articling. 1<br />

<strong>The</strong> past dozen years have seen a proliferation of emphasis<br />

on and resources for effective mentorship in the legal profession<br />

from law firms, law societies, LAWPRO, national, provincial,<br />

and local bar associations, and <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society. 2<br />

<strong>The</strong>re has been a recognition that despite our hyperconnectivity<br />

over social media, real and deep connection with trusted<br />

colleagues, advisors, and mentors has been waning. Indeed,<br />

emerging from the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 on<br />

how we worked, practised, and connected with colleagues,<br />

staff, students, and mentor/mentees, 3 Peter made mentorship<br />

a core theme and commitment of his term as president of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Advocates’</strong> Society. 4<br />

Yet, more is needed than resources, how-to guides, and encouragement<br />

to seek out or offer mentorship. Instead, we need<br />

to shift the paradigm of mentorship from a voluntary service<br />

those of us with a little more time, experience, and grey hair<br />

might consider offering, to a professional responsibility essential<br />

Peter W. Kryworuk and Jacob R.W. Damstra<br />

to our duties as advocates. Unlike Athena and the other Greek<br />

gods, whose interest in human affairs was often fleeting, fickle,<br />

and selfish, we believe that as lawyers, and in particular as<br />

advocates, mentorship is not an option, but a duty rooted<br />

in the traditions of our profession and the rules and codes<br />

governing our conduct.<br />

Honouring the history<br />

While the concept of a “mentor” has evolved beyond the myth<br />

of a benevolent deity investing in the success of a human beneficiary,<br />

we can trace a common thread from its ancient Greek<br />

origins to modern mentorship across any industry. <strong>The</strong> original<br />

word, inspired by Athena’s anthropomorphic intervention as<br />

12 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 13

Mentor, means “mind or spirit” and “connotes a strong sense<br />

of purposefulness and agency.” 5<br />

Although the Oxford English Dictionary defines a “mentor”<br />

as “an experienced and trusted advisor,” the core elements of<br />

mentorship from ancient myths to modern advocates are similar.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y include:<br />

l transfer: conveying knowledge or wisdom from the<br />

experienced mentor to the learning mentee;<br />

l trust: a relationship of mutual respect, loyalty, and confidence;<br />

l trials: creating opportunities for learning by doing in a<br />

supervised and supported environment;<br />

l thought exchange: a forum for discussion about ideas and<br />

options to solve problems, make decisions, and deal with<br />

their consequences; and<br />

l teaching: giving and receiving constructive feedback on<br />

courses of action proposed or undertaken with emphasis<br />

on areas for growth and improvement.<br />

One resource on legal mentorship describes the role of mentoring<br />

in the profession back in the 13th century, when English<br />

judges provided for the apprenticeship of lawyers and direct<br />

mentoring was therefore the only way lawyers could learn<br />

their craft. This practice was essentially akin to our modern<br />

clerkships, which are unanimously viewed as invaluable experiences<br />

for the aspiring advocate, but the built-in constraints<br />

of such judge-to-legal apprentice relationships limited the<br />

number of new lawyers that could be mentored.<br />

From there, the system of legal education through membership<br />

in (and mentorship at) the Inns of Court developed, and the<br />

modern concept of law societies evolved. Legal education<br />

and mentorship at the Inns consisted of some combination<br />

of lectures by experienced barristers (known as “benchers”),<br />

listening to arguments in court, arguing moots presided over<br />

by the benchers of the Inn, and discussing the law among<br />

the students and benchers. <strong>The</strong> mentor-mentee relationship<br />

was inherent in and fundamental to this system of legal education<br />

and training, with more experienced benchers sharing<br />

knowledge and offering guidance and direction to prospective<br />

barristers. <strong>The</strong> Inns fostered an intimate setting for debate and<br />

discussion about legal issues and advocacy which not all modern<br />

advocates have access to beyond completing law school and an<br />

articling term.<br />

This apprenticeship-based legal education and mentorship<br />

carried over from England to the colonies in Canada. As<br />

Ashenhurst observed, when the Law Society of Upper Canada 6<br />

was established in 1797 and for the following three decades,<br />

apprenticeship formed “the heart of Convocation’s law-training<br />

program.” Since the Law Society relied on the apprenticeprincipal<br />

relationship as the primary vehicle for the professional<br />

growth of new lawyers, a future lawyer depended “upon what<br />

his master could and should teach him and upon what he could<br />

pick up” through self-study. 7<br />

By 1889, the Law Society of Upper Canada established a<br />

permanent, mandatory law school at Osgoode Hall and made<br />

classroom instruction compulsory for all Ontario law students,<br />

marking a transition in legal education and mentorship to “a<br />

hybrid of classroom instruction and articled apprenticeship.” 8<br />

In Ontario, legal education shifted again in the mid-20th century<br />

as the Law Society had largely relinquished its substantive<br />

law-teaching function to law faculties in provincial universities<br />

by 1957. 9 This change marked a shift in emphasis in the<br />

education of aspiring lawyers to substantive and academic<br />

learning at university as the predominant requirement in a<br />

young lawyer’s training.<br />

While the articling requirement in Ontario remains, there is<br />

wide variability in the articling experience, and the rich tradition<br />

of education through active mentorship in our profession<br />

diminished over time as a greater premium was placed on<br />

formal legal education in university law schools rather than<br />

practical, experiential learning through hands-on mentorship.<br />

Notwithstanding this shift, the past 50 years have seen<br />

no shortage of exceptional advocates providing exceptional<br />

mentorship. Indeed, it has been our observation that the advocates<br />

who have risen to prominence at the top of their bars<br />

have done so with the benefit of great mentorship and paid it<br />

forward through their own commitment to mentoring the next<br />

generation. J.J. Robinette is described as a Peerless Mentor,<br />

for example, in Justice George Finlayson’s hybrid memoirbiography.<br />

10 Douglas Laidlaw, a founding member of <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Advocates’</strong> Society and namesake of the Society’s award for<br />

excellence in advocacy (and mentorship), also comes to mind. 11<br />

While we could fill many pages acknowledging great examples<br />

for us all, we would be remiss not to share our appreciation<br />

of the quintessential advocate-mentor, Earl Cherniak. Earl<br />

became Peter’s first principal and mentor in 1982 and remains<br />

a valued mentor four decades later, while also investing as<br />

a mentor in Jacob’s litigation and appellate advocacy career<br />

(among the careers of countless others over his 60-plus years<br />

in practice.)<br />

Interpreting the obligations<br />

In addition to the traditions of mentorship being steeped in the<br />

history of our profession, we can look to the Rules of Professional<br />

Conduct prescribed by Canada’s provincial law societies to<br />

ground our duty as advocates to provide mentorship. To our<br />

surprise, the Rules and similar codes do not specifically mention<br />

a professional responsibility to mentor. However, it is not<br />

a strained interpretation to argue that the duty to mentor is<br />

inherent in each advocate’s professional obligations.<br />

Chapter 2 of the Rules in Ontario, for example, focuses on<br />

integrity. Section 2.1-2 states: “A lawyer has a duty to uphold<br />

the standards and reputation of the legal profession and to assist<br />

in the advancement of its goals, organizations and institutions.”<br />

While not specifically calling for mentorship, upholding the<br />

standards and reputation of the profession implies a requirement<br />

not just to do so ourselves, but to model and impart the highest<br />

standards of the profession to the next generation of lawyers.<br />

Assisting in the advancement of the profession’s goals, organizations,<br />

and institutions also certainly demands a commitment to<br />

developing aspiring, new, and young advocates.<br />

<strong>The</strong> commentary to this rule supports this interpretation by<br />

including the following guidance:<br />

[1] Collectively, lawyers are encouraged to enhance the<br />

profession through activities such as:<br />

(a) sharing knowledge and experience with colleagues and students<br />

informally in day-to-day practice as well as through<br />

contribution to professional journals and publications,<br />

support of law school projects and participation in panel<br />

discussions, legal education seminars and university<br />

lectures [emphasis added]. 12<br />

<strong>The</strong> Rules thus encourage mentorship<br />

through the sharing of knowledge and<br />

experience with colleagues and students.<br />

What is interesting is that the Rules refer<br />

to informal sharing in day-to-day practice<br />

on one hand, and a host of other,<br />

more formal activities involving teaching<br />

and writing on the other. <strong>The</strong>re is<br />

no discussion of, let alone requirement<br />

to participate in, formal or structured<br />

mentorship. In fact, there is no further or<br />

other mention of mentorship in the Rules,<br />

aside from the specific sections dealing<br />

with an articling principal’s obligations.<br />

Chapter 6, section 6.2-2, Duties of Principal,<br />

prescribes particular mentoring<br />

requirements on lawyers acting as an<br />

articling principal:<br />

A lawyer acting as a principal to a<br />

student shall provide the student<br />

with meaningful training and exposure<br />

to and involvement in work<br />

that will provide the student with<br />

knowledge and experience of the<br />

practical aspects of the law, together<br />

with an appreciation of the traditions<br />

and ethics of the profession. 13<br />

It cannot be reasonably contended that<br />

completion of an advocate’s articling term<br />

brings an end to their need for meaningful<br />

training; exposure to and involvement<br />

in experiential and practical work;<br />

or guidance on the traditions and ethics<br />

of the profession. Arguably, articling<br />

serves only to pour a foundation – after<br />

which the need for guidance and mentorship<br />

remains and even increases as<br />

the remainder of the advocate’s structure<br />

is yet to be formed.<br />

In the absence of an explicit obligation<br />

to mentor beyond the principal-student<br />

relationship in articling, we think the<br />

Rules can and should be interpreted holistically<br />

to include a continuing duty on<br />

all lawyers to provide the type of meaningful<br />

training, work experience, knowledge<br />

transfer, and teaching referred to<br />

in section 6.2-2 to all students and colleagues<br />

more broadly, both within and<br />

beyond the bounds of our predominant<br />

firm structures.<br />

Making a mentor<br />

Now that we have seen the history and<br />

tradition of mentorship among advocates,<br />

and the implicit role for mentorship prescribed<br />

by our Rules of Professional Conduct,<br />

what makes an advocate a mentor?<br />

Mentorship relationships do not come<br />

in any one form, size, or shape. Mentorship<br />

can be part of a formal program<br />

within a law firm or organization or it<br />

can be a casual relationship between acquaintances.<br />

Similarly, mentorship relationships<br />

do not require a formal or longterm<br />

commitment or agenda. Mentorship<br />

can be in the form of periodic communications<br />

and even a single conversation. It<br />

is common for an advocate to have more<br />

than one mentor. No doubt at times the<br />

participants may not even appreciate that<br />

they are involved in mentorship. Because<br />

mentorship can occur in so many different<br />

ways, the attributes of the “ideal” mentor<br />

may also vary significantly, depending<br />

on the circumstances, perspectives, and<br />

needs of a particular mentee.<br />

<strong>The</strong> traditional mentorship model for<br />

advocates involves a more senior lawyer<br />

acting as mentor for a younger lawyer.<br />

This traditional model often involves the<br />

associate lawyer working closely with<br />

the senior partner. Mentorship often<br />

occurs within the confines of working<br />

together on files but can extend beyond<br />

a file-based working relationship to involve<br />

mentor-mentee pairs who do not<br />

Bringing experience to both sides of the table.<br />

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14 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 15

work together, are not in the same practice area, or are not even<br />

members of the same firm.<br />

One does not need to be a senior lawyer in order to play<br />

the role of mentor. Often mid-career lawyers who themselves<br />

are continuing to receive mentorship can act as very effective<br />

mentors for younger counsel and are a valuable resource for<br />

advice and support to the younger lawyer. Both senior and<br />

mid-career lawyers can provide valuable mentorship advice<br />

for younger advocates.<br />

Being a mentor comes with responsibilities and should not<br />

be undertaken lightly. <strong>The</strong>re are many elements to a good mentorship<br />

relationship. As noted in <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society’s <strong>2023</strong><br />

Mentoring Guide, a mentor may be able to help a mentee:<br />

l analyze specific or general legal issues;<br />

l explore ways to expand or narrow the mentee’s practice<br />

area;<br />

l connect with other practitioners in a particular practice<br />

area, geographic region, or demographic;<br />

l as a sounding board for ethical dilemmas;<br />

l with transitions (return to work after parental leave) or<br />

changing career paths;<br />

l improve practice management skills;<br />

l with advice on work-life balance; or<br />

l develop their advocacy style and the requisite skills of a<br />

successful advocate. 14<br />

A good mentor will demonstrate a number of important<br />

characteristics; namely, they:<br />

l will be a good listener;<br />

l will show that they have an interest in the mentee’s wellbeing;<br />

and<br />

l will be available and will give the mentee the time they<br />

require.<br />

A good advocate must have excellent communication skills,<br />

which include being a good listener. Advocates must listen to<br />

their clients, listen to their opponents, and listen to the courts.<br />

A good mentor makes the conversation about the mentee and<br />

seeks to identify the mentee’s concerns and identify areas where<br />

mentorship is needed. By asking questions that focus on the<br />

mentee, the mentor not only gains important information about<br />

the mentee but also shows that they care and want to help.<br />

<strong>The</strong> mentorship relationship is not about the mentor, and<br />

the conversation should not focus on the mentor. Professional<br />

and personal experiences and decisions made by the mentor<br />

should not be the focus of attention. What worked for the mentor<br />

might not be appropriate. Of course, where the mentee is<br />

interested in the mentor’s experiences and decisions, the mentor<br />

should not be closed off, limiting the trust that might be<br />

formed in the relationship or depriving the mentee of lessons<br />

that might be learned from the mentor’s stories.<br />

<strong>The</strong> mentor uses their own experiences, both positive<br />

and negative, to help inform their advice and counsel. <strong>The</strong><br />

mentor’s experience can be used to provide reassurance to<br />

the mentee that they are not alone in facing various career<br />

issues. It is not the role of the mentor to tell the mentee how<br />

to do things or to suggest that what worked for them will necessarily<br />

work for the mentee. Rather, the mentor will seek to<br />

understand the mentee’s circumstances and provide thoughtful<br />

advice, reassurance, and assistance as may be appropriate<br />

in the circumstances.<br />

Depending on the nature of the mentorship relationship,<br />

the mentor may be providing training related to the practice<br />

of law, advocacy skills, legal practice skills, and time- and<br />

stress-management skills. <strong>The</strong> mentor may also address the<br />

work-life balance challenges that all advocates face. In some<br />

cases, advocates may find they share a common interest outside<br />

of the practice of law, such as travel or fitness. <strong>The</strong> mentor<br />

must build a relationship with the mentee that will form the<br />

foundation of mentorship.<br />

<strong>The</strong> mentee’s mindset<br />

Making the most of mentorship is not the exclusive responsibility<br />

of the more experienced lawyer acting as mentor in the relationship.<br />

A mentee has an equivalent duty to actively engage in<br />

the mentorship process. While a good mentor takes an interest<br />

and makes an investment in the mentee’s growth and development,<br />

ultimate responsibility for an advocate’s skill development<br />

and career progression rests with that particular lawyer.<br />

Accordingly, the mentee’s participation in a mentorship<br />

relationship cannot be passive. For the mentee to maximize<br />

the benefits to the guidance offered by the mentor, they must<br />

take ownership of their mentorship and development. This<br />

means the mentee, not the mentor, should offer to undertake<br />

the administrative requirements of the mentoring relationship,<br />

which could include preparing a mentorship agreement, drafting<br />

a mentoring plan or proposed calendar, identifying target<br />

or focus areas the mentee is most interested in, requesting and<br />

scheduling meetings, booking meeting space or making reservations<br />

(as needed), and documenting the advice given by the<br />

mentor and the mentee’s progress toward established goals.<br />

Being an active mentee – or a “tormentee,” to borrow a<br />

phrase from one of Jacob’s mentors, Justice Peter Lauwers of<br />

the Court of Appeal for Ontario – also requires the junior participant<br />

in the relationship to seek out and accept increasingly<br />

more difficult or complex assignments, more responsibility,<br />

and advocacy opportunities under the mentor’s supervision.<br />

It is only by consistently venturing to the edge of our comfort<br />

zone that we are able to achieve growth. A “tormentee”<br />

eagerly (and respectfully) follows up for feedback and tips<br />

for improvement on the work they have completed or the<br />

advocacy they have performed. <strong>The</strong>y listen to that feedback<br />

with humility, and they make best efforts to incorporate their<br />

mentor’s advice moving forward.<br />

<strong>The</strong> active mentee should be well prepared for every mentorship<br />

session – whether formal or informal. When a mentee is<br />

seeking a mentor’s guidance on a complex legal case or a difficult<br />

ethical question in a formal mentorship meeting, for example,<br />

it is important not simply to present the problem and expect<br />

the mentor to offer a solution. Instead, the mentee should come<br />

prepared with a description of the issue, a selection of possible<br />

courses of action including the pros and cons of each, the mentee’s<br />

instinctive choice together with the reasons for it, and an<br />

open mind to hear the mentor’s thoughts. Merely undertaking<br />

the process of preparing for a mentorship session in this manner<br />

will make us better lawyers and advocates, regardless of the<br />

ultimate course of action taken – and will be far more beneficial<br />

than simply accepting the solution offered by the mentor.<br />

It is also important that the mentee capitalize on opportunities<br />

for informal mentorship. Drive time to or from discoveries,<br />

walking back to the office after court, impromptu lunches,<br />

and networking events with the mentor are all excellent<br />

occasions for the mentee to learn and<br />

grow. <strong>The</strong>se situations are well suited for<br />

informal conversations about marketing<br />

and business development strategies,<br />

client- and referral source–relationship<br />

management, career progression within<br />

one’s firm, participation in the legal profession<br />

or contributions to the advocate’s<br />

community, or even lessons learned from<br />

favourite (or least favourite) cases – after<br />

all, what advocate doesn’t love telling<br />

war stories?<br />

We have also found that mentorship<br />

is decidedly not unilateral – it is a twoway<br />

street. <strong>The</strong> mentor also learns from<br />

the mentee, has horizons broadened, and<br />

gains empathy and understanding of the<br />

challenges faced by their mentees. <strong>The</strong><br />

concept of “reverse mentoring” – a junior<br />

colleague mentoring someone more<br />

senior, with the intention of helping<br />

the senior colleague develop new skills<br />

and connect with the younger generation<br />

– has been around for a while in<br />

the business world. 15 Typically touted<br />

as an effective means of teaching the<br />

senior participant digital and technical<br />

skills or exposing the senior colleague to<br />

different perspectives – which promotes<br />

diversity and drives cultural change –<br />

reverse mentoring also offers the junior<br />

colleague a forum to gain confidence as a<br />

value-added member of the relationship.<br />

Just how indispensable effective reverse<br />

mentoring can be came to a sharp point<br />

in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic<br />

when our justice system shifted entirely<br />

to e-filing and virtual hearings. Senior<br />

advocates who successfully and seamlessly<br />

transitioned did so in large part<br />

thanks to their trust in and reliance on<br />

their juniors, who turned the tables and<br />

mentored the senior lawyers through the<br />

effective navigation of the virtual platforms<br />

that quickly became ubiquitous.<br />

Done right, mentorship strengthens all<br />

participants.<br />

Finally, just as established advocates<br />

have a duty to mentor newer lawyers,<br />

so too do young advocates, though still<br />

mentees themselves, have a duty to pay<br />

it forward. Unlike the ancient Greek origins<br />

and the traditional notions of mentor<br />

as the wise elder or the grey-haired sage,<br />

the reality is that each of us, regardless<br />

of our age and stage, is at least slightly<br />

innovative. integrated. iterative.<br />

further ahead on the path than someone<br />

else, with lessons learned and guidance<br />

to offer.<br />

Further, a younger advocate, though<br />

perhaps less experienced than a 30-year<br />

call or a seasoned litigator, is far closer<br />

to the current experience of an articling<br />

student or a brand new call. As a result,<br />

that younger advocate may be able to<br />

better connect with and understand the<br />

needs and concerns of a peer or a slightly<br />

more junior colleague: <strong>The</strong>y will have<br />

more recent memory of being in the same<br />

or a similar position, and they may be a<br />

less intimidating figure from which to<br />

seek mentorship.<br />

This is not an “either-or” proposition.<br />

A new and aspiring advocate would be<br />

very fortunate to learn from a variety of<br />

mentors at different stages in their careers,<br />

with different skills, experiences,<br />

and perspectives to share.<br />

Conclusion: <strong>The</strong> advocate’s duty<br />

Mentorship has always been an important<br />

part of the life of the advocate. It is a<br />

long-standing tradition. Advocates have<br />

a common bond that is reflected in the<br />

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collegiality and the respect we show to<br />

each other.<br />

Mentorship is a commitment we make<br />

as advocates and can be used through<br />

the course of our professional lives.<br />

Mentorship of advocates is essential to<br />

the profession, and it is essential to the<br />

effective administration of justice. It is<br />

critical that advocates continue to train<br />

and develop the next generation. While<br />

all lawyers receive a formal legal education<br />

and many receive some form of<br />

advocacy skills training, mentorship has<br />

always been and remains a key element<br />

in the development of every successful<br />

advocate.<br />

Mentorship skills are not taught in law<br />

school, nor do they form part of the bar<br />

admission requirements. <strong>The</strong>re are no<br />

explicit mentorship obligations in the<br />

Rules of Professional Conduct, nor in any<br />

statute or regulation. While mentorship<br />

is a well-established tradition of the bar,<br />

it is much more than simply tradition.<br />

Every advocate has the professional<br />

duty to mentor the next generation of<br />

Notes<br />

1. Veronica Ashenhurst, “Mentoring the Lawyer, Past and Present:<br />

Some Reflections,” Ottawa Law Review 41:1 (2010) 125–53.<br />

2. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society Mentoring Guide (<strong>2023</strong>); <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong><br />

Society, Guide to Mentoring (2017), online: < https://www.advocates.<br />

ca/TAS/Community_Events/Mentoring_TAS_Mentoring_Portal/<br />

TAS/Community_Events/Mentoring.aspx?WebsiteKey=06cf22b6-<br />

e7ad-4e74-b12b-196172e60ffc>.<br />

3. Michelle Foster, “Another Pandemic Loss: Mentorship,” Forbes<br />

(July 2022); online: .<br />

4. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society Mentoring Guide (<strong>2023</strong>), Introduction.<br />

5. Núria Casado-Gual, Emma Domínguez-Rué, & Maricel Oró-Piqueras,<br />

eds, Re-discovering Age(ing): Narratives of Mentorship (Bielefeld,<br />

Germany: Transcript-Verlag, 2019).<br />

6. Our references to the Law Society of Upper Canada are not intended<br />

to exclude other provincial law societies, but merely to exemplify the<br />

point. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve deeply into the<br />

history and development of legal education and mentorship across<br />

the country.<br />

7. Ashenhurst, supra note 1 at 135, citing William Renwick Riddell, <strong>The</strong><br />

Legal Profession in Upper Canada in Its Early Periods (Toronto: Law<br />

Society of Upper Canada, 1916), 38.<br />

8. Ashenhurst, supra note 1 at 137, citing Curtis Cole, “’A Hand to Shake<br />

the Tree of Knowledge’: Legal Education in Ontario, 1871–1889,”<br />

Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education 17:3 (1986) 15 at 25.<br />

advocates. Mentorship is an important<br />

part of the duty owed by every advocate<br />

to the profession, to the courts, and to<br />

the community they serve.<br />

<strong>The</strong> recent pandemic has disrupted the<br />

lives of all advocates, both professionally<br />

and personally. <strong>The</strong> ongoing effects<br />

have weighed heavily on all advocates,<br />

but particularly, on our newest and more<br />

junior advocates. <strong>The</strong> practice of advocacy<br />

has changed considerably. <strong>The</strong> use<br />

of technology now allows advocates to<br />

work remotely. A great deal of our advocacy<br />

before the courts now occurs<br />

virtually. <strong>The</strong> ability of advocates to<br />

interact with each other has been impacted<br />

by the reduced opportunities to “walk<br />

down the hallway” to speak with a colleague<br />

or step outside the courtroom<br />

or into the robing room for conversation<br />

with the opposing counsel or other<br />

colleagues at the bar. <strong>The</strong>se changes have<br />

not only impacted our ability to access<br />

formal mentoring but also hampered<br />

the informal mentoring that can occur<br />

when networking and engaging in social<br />

interactions with our colleagues.<br />

Mentorship continues to be important<br />

and relevant; in fact, we think it is more<br />

important than ever. Recent changes in<br />

our practice and the use of technology<br />

means that the form of mentorship must<br />

also evolve and change to meet the current<br />

needs of young advocates. All of us,<br />

as advocates, have a duty to engage in<br />

mentorship relationships.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society, which has always<br />

embraced mentorship as one of its<br />

core objectives, strives to promote and<br />

foster mentorship through educational<br />

programs and other initiatives that create<br />

a variety of mentorship opportunities for<br />

its members. However, we as advocates<br />

must do our part. We must acknowledge<br />

our duty to mentor and be mentored.<br />

We must make the commitment, and<br />

we must engage in the process. Being a<br />

mentor is a most rewarding experience,<br />

which all advocates must embrace. <strong>The</strong><br />

advocates of today bear a responsibility<br />

to ensure that we develop the advocates<br />

of tomorrow.<br />

9. Ashenhurst, supra note 1 at 137, citing C Ian Kyer and Jerome E<br />

Bickenbach, <strong>The</strong> Fiercest Debate: Cecil A. Wright, the Benchers, and Legal<br />

Education in Ontario 1923–1957 (Toronto: <strong>The</strong> Osgoode Society, 1987).<br />

10. George D Finlayson, John J. Robinette, Peerless Mentor: An Appreciation<br />

(Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2003).<br />

11. <strong>The</strong> Douglas K. Laidlaw Medal for Excellence in Advocacy; online:<br />

.<br />

12. See also Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, s 2.2-2 (BC Code);<br />

Law Society of Alberta Code of Conduct, s 2.1-2 (Alberta Code); Nova Scotia<br />

Barristers’ Society Code of Professional Conduct, s 2.1-1 (NS Code). <strong>The</strong><br />

other provincial law societies have identical or similar provisions in<br />

their Rules or Codes.<br />

13. See also BC Code, s 6.2-2; Alberta Code, s 6.2-2; NS Code, s 6.2-2.<br />

14. <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society Mentoring Guide (<strong>2023</strong>) at 7.<br />

Generational Learning and Developing Millennial Leaders,” Human<br />

Resource Management 51:4 (July/August 2012); Jennifer Jordan and<br />

Michael Sorell, “Why Reverse Mentoring Works and How to Do It<br />

Right,” Harvard Business Review (Oct. 2019); online: ;<br />

Maggie Wooll, “Reverse Mentorship Is One More Key to<br />

Developing and Retaining Top Talent, BetterUp (Jan. 14, 2022); online:<br />

.<br />

Rethinking credibility<br />

Cheryl Woodin, Anil K. Kapoor, and Sidney Brejak<br />

What is credibility? What are we assessing when we<br />

conclude that a witness is credible?<br />

In this article, we explain that credibility is an assessment<br />

of demeanour; nothing more, nothing less. As such,<br />

credibility is a questionable metric to assess a witness’s truthfulness.<br />

Instead, trial courts should focus on the reliability of<br />

evidence to determine truthfulness. We need to appreciate<br />

the weakness of credibility assessments against the relative<br />

strength of reliability assessments in determining the truthfulness<br />

of witnesses to improve how we make factual findings.<br />

Assessing credibility has been an essential building block<br />

of our trial system for a long time. When a witness takes the<br />

stand, a trier of fact assesses not only the content of their<br />


evidence but also whether the witness is credible: Can the<br />

witness be believed? Historically, credibility played a foundational<br />

role in our justice system. <strong>The</strong> pandemic has caused<br />

a reassessment of many of our long-held views, such as the<br />

value of in-person trials. Credibility is similarly in need of a<br />

reassessment.<br />

Credibility assessments may serve as an impediment to just<br />

and fair outcomes by unfairly focusing the trier of fact on the<br />

manner and form of a witness’s evidence. Judges and lawyers<br />

must recognize the fallibility of credibility assessments and<br />

search for better alternatives, such as deciding cases on a paper<br />

record that focuses on an objective assessment of reliability.<br />

Where the trier of fact is a jury, we urge a reconsideration of<br />

our standard jury instruction to no longer direct jurors to apply<br />

their common sense of whether a witness is telling the truth<br />

because that condones a resort to prejudice and stereotypes<br />

which are unreliable predictors of veracity.<br />

Ultimately, we urge a critical examination of whether credibility<br />

assessments actually create fairer outcomes in our justice<br />

system. We doubt they do. Credibility in the way we have long<br />

viewed it should no longer hold a front seat in the courtroom.<br />

Background and definitions<br />

History of credibility and demeanour<br />

Demeanour has always been seen as integral to assessing a witness’s<br />

credibility and has deep roots in the Anglo-Canadian<br />

legal system. In England, as far back as the 1600s, in Fenwick’s<br />

Trial, counsel for the accused objected to the consideration of a<br />

sworn hearsay statement, arguing: “Our law requires persons<br />

to appear and give their testimony viva voce; and we see that<br />

their testimony appears credible, or not, by their very countenances,<br />

and the manner of their delivery.” 1 In Canada in the<br />

1880s, Chief Justice Ritchie in McKay v Glen wrote that “the<br />

demeanour and manner of the witnesses are very material elements<br />

in judging of their credibility.” 2<br />

<strong>The</strong>se historical roots influence modern Canadian jurisprudence,<br />

as courts across the county have accepted the usefulness<br />

of credibility when deciding the believability of witnesses. In<br />

R v NS, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the ability<br />

to see a witness’s face is an important feature of a fair trial,<br />

and that “[c]hanges in a witness’s demeanour can be highly<br />

instructive.” 3 Respectfully, demeanour is possibly the least<br />

reliable metric by which to consider a witness’s evidence.<br />

18 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 19

Definitions: Reliability, credibility, and demeanour<br />

<strong>The</strong> meanings of reliability, credibility, and demeanour are at<br />

the heart of this discussion. <strong>The</strong> Supreme Court of Canada in<br />

R v GF described reliability as a witness’s ability to observe,<br />

recall, and recount events accurately. 4 Courts often look to a<br />

number of objective factors to assess the reliability of testimonial<br />

evidence, including whether the witness’s evidence<br />

is internally consistent, consistent with the documentary<br />

evidence, or consistent with the evidence of other witnesses;<br />

whether the witness has sufficient power of recollection<br />

and recall, including the circumstances in which the observation<br />

was made; and whether the witness had an opportunity<br />

and ability to observe the factual matters about which<br />

they testified. 5<br />

Reliability is not a scientific measurement; the trier of fact<br />

has a broad discretion in determining to what extent a witness’s<br />

reliability is impacted by the presence of bolstering or<br />

diminishing factors. However, the strength of reliability is it<br />

subjects a witness’s story to an objective examination of its<br />

consistency with the probabilities affecting the case as a whole<br />

as shown by the evidence to be in existence at the time. 6<br />

<strong>The</strong> Supreme Court of Canada has defined credibility as<br />

a witness’s sincerity or honesty – essentially, the witness’s<br />

willingness to speak the truth as they believe it to be. 7 Credibility<br />

is often assessed by observing the demeanour of the<br />

witness. In R v NS, the Supreme Court of Canada described<br />

demeanour as how a witness gives their evidence and responds<br />

to cross-examination; in her dissent on another issue, Justice<br />

Abella characterized demeanour as “every visible or audible<br />

form of self-expression manifested, whether fixed or variable,<br />

voluntary or involuntary, simple or complex.” 8 Courts often<br />

rely on a witness’s eye contact, forthrightness, confidence, and<br />

tone/volume of voice when observing demeanour.<br />

Credibility and reliability are distinct concepts, with credibility<br />

being determined primarily by a witness’s demeanour<br />

and conduct when testifying. <strong>The</strong> fact that a witness deemed<br />

credible may still give unreliable evidence is illustrative of the<br />

distinctiveness of the two concepts. As one judge in British<br />

Columbia put it, “credibility addresses whether a witness is<br />

lying, whereas reliability is about honest mistakes.” 9 Another<br />

approach, one which appears to be implicitly used in many<br />

trial decisions, is that credibility is a global determination of<br />

the believability of a witness and therefore encompasses both<br />

the sincerity and the accuracy of the testimony. Put mathematically<br />

“credibility = reliability + demeanour.” 10<br />

Justice Watt put the difference this way:<br />

Credibility and reliability are different. Credibility has to<br />

do with a witness’s veracity, reliability with the accuracy<br />

of the witness’s testimony. Accuracy engages consideration<br />

of the witness’s ability to accurately<br />

i. observe;<br />

ii. recall; and<br />

iii. recount events in issue.<br />

Any witness whose evidence on an issue is not credible cannot<br />

give reliable evidence on the same point. Credibility, on the<br />

other hand, is not a proxy for reliability: a credible witness may<br />

give unreliable evidence. 11<br />

Regardless of the approach, it is apparent that factors which<br />

go to assessing credibility are multi-faceted and include the<br />

unspoken criterion of a trier of fact’s belief of how an honest<br />

person comports themselves – the badges of honesty.<br />

Courts often use the same factors to assess both credibility<br />

and reliability, and they have not created a list of factors<br />

exclusive to either concept. For example, inconsistencies can<br />

lead a trier of fact to doubt the honesty of a witness or doubt<br />

the accuracy of their evidence. 12 Similarly, if a witness has an<br />

interest in the outcome of the case, one can view their sincerity<br />

or the accuracy of their evidence as tainted. However, a closer<br />

look at the factors that go to assessing credibility and reliability<br />

reveal that all factors, except for demeanour, can be, and should<br />

be, considered as going to reliability, rather than credibility.<br />

Reliability requires an objective assessment of the witness’s<br />

evidence, testing it against the other evidence on the record and<br />

its consistency with the surrounding probabilities with respect<br />

to the facts of the case. It mandates justification and logical coherency.<br />

If a factor is viewed through the prism of credibility,<br />

however, the evidence becomes susceptible to the subjective<br />

point of view of the trier of fact and their personal belief of what<br />

an honest and sincere witness should look like.<br />

However, demeanour is the only factor that can be said to<br />

exclusively go to credibility, as no method exists to assess<br />

demeanour objectively. 13 Although experts are often used to<br />

provide an objective explanation for the behaviour of specific<br />

types of witnesses – such as sexual assault complainants –<br />

experts cannot be used to explain the behaviour of a specific<br />

witness in any given case. <strong>The</strong> demeanour of a witness can<br />

be assessed only from the subjective point of view of the trier<br />

of fact, leaving it as the only factor that cannot fall under the<br />

objective supervision of reliability.<br />

Limits of assessing demeanour<br />

Permitting an assessment of demeanour to determine credibility<br />

allows triers of fact to rely on their own prejudices,<br />

stereotypes, and subconscious understanding of what a truthful<br />

person looks like – all impermissible and pernicious. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

is no demeanour that universally demonstrates veracity; demeanour<br />

is not diagnostic. In 1952, the British Columbia Court<br />

of Appeal wrote: “[I]f a trial judge’s finding of credibility is<br />

to depend solely on which person he thinks made the better<br />

appearance of sincerity in the witness box, we are left with a<br />

purely arbitrary finding and justice would then depend upon<br />

the best actors in the witness box.” 14<br />

Demeanour is a poor indicator of honesty or truthfulness.<br />

Every day, people are duped by a smooth-talking con artist,<br />

or they attribute malicious intent to an honest person merely<br />

because something “just feels off.” Some people can’t help<br />

that their demeanour does not align with the fact that they<br />

are telling the truth. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Talking to<br />

Strangers, defines these people as “mismatched” – their external<br />

behaviour and demeanour do not match with their inner<br />

character or state of mind. 15 Without a doubt, all counsel can<br />

think of a client or potential witness who was mismatched and<br />

dreaded taking the stand because, regardless of how truthful<br />

they were, they present like a liar. As one judge of the Tax<br />

Court of Canada recounted, “I have seen some accomplished<br />

liars who will look you straight in the eye and come out with<br />

the most blatant falsehoods in a confident, forthright and frank<br />

way, whereas there are honest witnesses who will avoid eye<br />

contact, stammer, hesitate, contradict themselves, and end up<br />

with their evidence in a complete shambles.” 16<br />

We are terrible at detecting lies<br />

<strong>The</strong> unreliability of demeanour is borne<br />

out in empirical research. 17 When it<br />

comes to detecting lies, the accuracy<br />

of the average person is no better than<br />

chance – flipping a coin yields a similar<br />

outcome. 18 <strong>The</strong> rate is not much better<br />

for so-called “professional lie catchers”<br />

(e.g., police officers, customs officers,<br />

judges) who succeed in sorting truth<br />

from a lie only about 56 percent of the<br />

time. 19 <strong>The</strong> reason for this is, contrary to<br />

popular belief, there are no telltale signs<br />

of a liar; and those behaviours that are<br />

commonly associated with either lying<br />

or telling the truth are easily faked.<br />

Behaviours associated with lying, such<br />

as shifting in one’s seat or fidgeting,<br />

stuttering, or hesitation while speaking,<br />

or breaking or failing to maintain eye<br />

contact, are also signs of genuine stress<br />

or anxiety. 20 It is impossible to determine<br />

if those behaviours are because the<br />

witness is lying or otherwise reacting to<br />

the stressful, uncomfortable, and sometimes<br />

embarrassing process of testifying.<br />

An average person will experience<br />

these behaviours more readily in the<br />

artificial and unfamiliar environment<br />

of a courtroom while being subjected to<br />




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rigorous cross-examination by someone<br />

who seeks to portray them as either a liar<br />

or unreliable.<br />

<strong>The</strong> influence of culture<br />

and the threat of stereotype<br />

Culture and stereotypes also play an outsized<br />

role in assessing demeanour. This<br />

was affirmed by the Court of Appeal for<br />

Ontario in R v GMC, where it held that<br />

“demeanour is of limited value because<br />

it can be affected by many factors including<br />

the culture of the witness [and]<br />

stereotypical attitudes …” 21 An individual’s<br />

culture, background, and manner of being<br />

raised affect how they speak, which<br />

includes how they regulate the tone/<br />

volume of speech; and how they behave,<br />

which includes displaying emotion,<br />

body language, and gaze. 22 For example,<br />

judges often look to eye contact and<br />

posture while speaking when assessing<br />

the credibility of a witness – maintaining<br />

eye contact and speaking confidently is<br />

generally seen as bolstering credibility,<br />

whereas a lack of eye contact and speaking<br />

timidly diminishes credibility. However,<br />

contrary to these Western norms, in some<br />

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authority is seen to represent defiance<br />

and disrespect, not honesty. 23<br />

Confirmation bias<br />

Because a trier of fact assesses demeanour<br />

by how they “feel” the witness presented/performed<br />

on the stand, using<br />

demeanour to assess credibility risks<br />

triggering confirmation bias – the tendency<br />

to cherry-pick evidence that confirms<br />

existing beliefs, and to disregard<br />

counter-evidence. However, while triers<br />

of fact must always guard against falling<br />

prey to confirmation bias, permitting the<br />

assessment of demeanour allows for confirmation<br />

bias to threaten trial fairness.<br />

For example, in R v S(W), the trial judge<br />

believed the complainant’s evidence<br />

solely on the basis of her demeanour and<br />

then proceeded to ignore the absence of<br />

confirmatory evidence, and the credibility<br />

of witnesses who contradicted the<br />

complainant. 24 While the trial judge’s<br />

confirmation bias in R v S(W) was reversed<br />

on appeal, it was only because<br />

the error was apparent in their reasons.<br />

In most cases, the presence of confirmation<br />

bias is clear in the reasons, or, in the<br />

case of jury trials, completely invisible.<br />

To be clear, the presence or absence<br />

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of confirmatory evidence is neither necessary nor required to<br />

assess the reliability of a witness’s story, especially in sexual<br />

assault cases or for so-called “unsavory witnesses.” Reliability<br />

is assessed based on the totality of evidence, and confirmatory<br />

evidence is one factor among many that may be considered<br />

and weighed. <strong>The</strong> Court of Appeal for Ontario in R v S(W)<br />

recognized this when it noted that “confirmatory evidence or<br />

corroboration is no longer required to support a conviction but its<br />

absence from this case is significant in the light of the considerable<br />

evidence contradicting the appellant’s allegations.”<br />

Appellate review<br />

Unfortunately, unless it is obvious in a trial judge’s reasons,<br />

like it was in R v S(W), the improper use of demeanour will<br />

go undetected. Because of the deference appellate courts<br />

give to a trial judge’s assessment of credibility, the use of<br />

demeanour in ways which undermine the administration of<br />

justice and threaten trial fairness are all but immune from<br />

appellate review. Conversely, reliability is far more easily reviewable<br />

by appellate courts, as it is based on an objective<br />

assessment of the whole of the evidence rather than a trial<br />

judge’s subjective assessment.<br />

However, in recent years, appellate courts have chipped<br />

away at the importance of demeanour in assessing credibility. 25<br />

Although R v NS still stands as binding authority that the demeanour<br />

of a witness can be instructive, appellate courts have<br />

gingerly sought to limit its impact by holding that relying solely<br />

on demeanour or giving undue weight to demeanour is a<br />

reviewable error. 26 Slowly but surely, the use of demeanour is<br />

fading. To draw on the phrase that is at the heart of Canadian<br />

evidence law, the prejudicial effect of demeanour evidence<br />

clearly far outweighs any probative value it may have.<br />

In sum, what is credibility if it is not an assessment of demeanour?<br />

<strong>The</strong> veracity of the witness is assessed by asking whether<br />

the witness seemed believable. This surrenders the assessment<br />

of credibility to the common sense of the trier of fact<br />

which, respectfully, allows for impermissible stereotypes and<br />

prejudices to influence the trier of fact’s assessment of the evidence.<br />

If we control for demeanour, that is to say eliminate any<br />

consideration of it from the credibility assessment, we will see<br />

that there remains precious little left to the credibility assessment.<br />

By definition credibility is about the witness’s honesty, not<br />

their reliability/accuracy. It directs the trier to assess the witness<br />

by the trier’s own sense of what a credible witness is like. It is<br />

almost entirely an assessment of manner, form, and demeanour.<br />

By contrast, reliability is about accuracy and, where available,<br />

confirmation, which ought to be the issue in any trial.<br />

<strong>The</strong> path forward<br />

Fair adjudication from a paper record: Summary judgment<br />

Despite the confusion that exists about how the concepts of<br />

reliability, credibility, and demeanour relate to each other, we<br />

see that the testimony of a witness can be assessed by a trier of<br />

fact both objectively (reliability) and subjectively (demeanour).<br />

This distinction is an important one when we recognize the<br />

frailties of a trier’s subjective assessment. It is also a useful one<br />

to build upon as we consider how to create the fairest possible<br />

outcomes in our adversarial system.<br />

One way to eliminate any reliance on demeanour is to determine<br />

disputes on a paper record.<br />

In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v Mauldin<br />

heralded a paradigm shift in civil litigation. 27 <strong>The</strong> case concerned<br />

the application of new fact-finding powers granted<br />

to motion judges in Ontario on summary judgment motions<br />

to weigh evidence, draw inferences, and evaluate credibility<br />

entirely from the paper record. 28 On a motion for summary<br />

judgment, the record is usually made up of affidavits and<br />

cross-examination on those affidavits before an official examiner.<br />

Regarding the new fact-finding powers, including the<br />

ability to evaluate credibility, the Supreme Court of Canada<br />

was clear that a documentary record “is often sufficient to resolve<br />

material issues fairly and justly.” 29<br />

If necessary, to support the fact-finding powers, a motion<br />

judge may order a witness give viva voce evidence – this is<br />

often done when the motion judge does not feel confident that<br />

they can fairly assess credibility where credibility is important<br />

to determining key issues. It could be argued that this power<br />

cuts against the proposition that seeing and hearing a witness<br />

testify is of limited value. However, a close look at the jurisprudence<br />

suggests otherwise. When a motion judge decides to<br />

hear oral evidence on a summary judgment motion, it is often<br />

to test the reliability of the witness and their evidence. 30 In fact,<br />

motion judges have rejected using this power where the only<br />

apparent reason is to observe the demeanour of the witness<br />

while they testify. For example, in the 2019 summary judgement<br />

decision Pavlovic v Vankar, Justice Nightingale declined<br />

to hear oral evidence from witnesses to assess their demeanour,<br />

noting the distorting effects of culture, stereotype, and the<br />

artificiality and pressure of the courtroom. 31 Similarly, other<br />

motion judges have found that little is gained from an oral<br />

hearing if its only purpose is to assess demeanour. 32<br />

<strong>The</strong> expanded summary judgment powers, and the guidance<br />

from the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak, illustrate that<br />

the old way of interrogating a witness in open court in front of<br />

the trier of fact may be an antiquated approach in our modern<br />

understanding of justice and fairness – or, in the words of the<br />

Court, “the standard for fairness is not whether the procedure<br />

is as exhaustive as a trial, but whether it gives the judge<br />

confidence that she can find the necessary facts and apply the<br />

relevant legal principles so as to resolve the dispute.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> need for better jury charges<br />

In many criminal matters, the fact-finding mission is undertaken<br />

by juries who are not legally trained. <strong>The</strong> present jury<br />

instruction needs to be revised to eliminate an instruction that<br />

directs jurors to rely on their own prejudices and stereotypes.<br />

Our present jury charges explicitly instruct jurors to use their<br />

own “common sense” when observing witness testimony as a<br />

guide to determine if the witness is believable. For example, in<br />

Ontario our standard instruction tells jurors to “use the same<br />

common sense that you use every day in deciding whether<br />

people know what they are talking about and whether they are<br />

telling the truth” and suggests that the jurors ask themselves,<br />

Did the witness seem honest? and What was the witness’s manner<br />

when he/she testified? Respectfully, permitting a juror’s<br />

common sense as a standard to assess credibility opens the door<br />

for jurors to rely upon their own prejudices and stereotypes to assess<br />

if the witness meets the juror’s common sense test of how an<br />

honest, truthful person would testify. It is an invitation to permit<br />

reliance on demeanour.<br />

We trust jurors to be diligent fact finders,<br />

to seriously consider and weigh all the<br />

evidence before them, and to return<br />

a verdict based on the evidence. It follows<br />

that we ought to steel jurors against<br />

relying on demeanour and their common<br />

sense to reveal whether someone<br />

is lying, even if some will not follow the<br />

instruction. This is because it is right to<br />

do so because there is no common sense<br />

understanding of how to tell if someone<br />

is lying. Rather, jurors should be asked<br />

Notes<br />

1. Fenwick’s Trial (1696), 13 Cobb. St. Tr. 537 (Parl.).<br />

2. McKay v Glen (1880), 3 SCR 641.<br />

3. R v NS, 2012 SCC 72 at paras 21–26.<br />

4. R v GF, 2021 SCC 20 at para 82.<br />

5. See, e.g., Wilson v Sinclair, 2022 ONSC 2154, para 18, for a more<br />

extensive list of credibility and reliability factors.<br />

6. Faryna v Chorny (1951), [1952] 2 DLR 354 (BCCA).<br />

7. R v GF, 2021 SCC 20 at para 82; R v Morrissey (1995), 22 OR (3d) 514<br />

(CA).<br />

8. R v NS, 2012 SCC 72 at paras 25, 98.<br />

9. R v PMM, 2019 BCPC 92 at para 67, cited favourably in R v Plehanov,<br />

2019 BCCA 462 at para 51.<br />

10. See, e.g., Kim v Baldonero, 2022 BCSC 167 at para 62, where the court<br />

states, “Credibility has two components – honesty and reliability.”<br />

11. R v HC, 2009 ONCA 56 at para 41.<br />

12. In R v Khesro-Mohamed-Rasheed, <strong>2023</strong> ONCJ 88 at para 15, the court<br />

stated that “[w]here an inconsistency involves something material<br />

about which an honest witness is unlikely to be mistaken, the<br />

inconsistency may demonstrate a carelessness with the truth about<br />

which the trier of fact should be concerned.” Conversely, in R v<br />

Grimes, <strong>2023</strong> NLSC 20 at para 92, the court noted that “a series of<br />

inconsistencies may become quite significant and cause the trier of<br />

fact to have a reasonable doubt about the reliability of the witness’s<br />

evidence.”<br />

13. See R v RD, 2017 ONSC 1856 at para 78, where the court wrote,<br />

“[T]his case is primarily concerned with the reliability of the<br />

complainant’s memory rather than his credibility as a witness,<br />

and reliability is difficult to determine on the basis of testimonial<br />

demeanour.”<br />

14. Faryna v Chorny (1951), [1952] 2 DLR 354 (BCCA).<br />

15. Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About<br />

the People We Don’t Know (Boston: Little, Brown, 2019).<br />

to focus solely on a witness’s reliability<br />

and come to conclusions based on that<br />

assessment alone.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Assessing the evidence given by a witness<br />

is not, and never will be, a science.<br />

However, that does not mean we should<br />

surrender believability to improper,<br />

stereotypical, and biased conclusions<br />

based on what we think an honest witness<br />

sounds like. Permitting demeanour-based<br />

16. Faulkner v MNR, 2006 TCC 239 at para 14.<br />

credibility assessments risks profound<br />

unfairness to witnesses who may not<br />

comport to a majoritarian understanding<br />

of what is a truthful witness. Focusing on<br />

reliability will minimize the risks inherent<br />

in credibility assessments. Ultimately,<br />

in our pluralistic multicultural society,<br />

our assessment of truthfulness cannot<br />

turn on a false notion that there is a universal<br />

way to assess credibility. Instead,<br />

we should anchor our search for the truth<br />

in a search for reliable evidence.<br />

17. See Anna SP Wong, “Looks Can Be Deceiving: <strong>The</strong> Irrelevance<br />

of Demeanour in Witness Assessments” (2020) 68 Crim LQ 345<br />

for a comprehensive breakdown of the fragilities of demeanour<br />

evidence; much of the evidence cited in this section is based on<br />

her work.<br />

18. Ibid 14, citing Charles F Bond Jr and Bella M DePaulo, “Accuracy<br />

of Deception Judgments” (2006), 10:3 Personality and Social<br />

Psychology Review 214.<br />

19. “Looks Can Be Deceiving,” supra note 17, citing Aldert Vrij,<br />

20. Ibid.<br />

Detecting Lies and Deceit: Pitfalls and Opportunities, 2nd ed (New<br />

York: Wiley, 2008).<br />

21. R v GMC, 2022 ONCA 2 at para 68.<br />

22. “Looks Can Be Deceiving,” supra note 17.<br />

23. Ibid, citing Anjanie McCarthy et al, “Cultural Display Rules Drive<br />

Eye Gaze During Thinking” (2006), 37:6 J Cross Cult Psychol 717.<br />

See also R v Hainnu, 2011 NUCJ 14 at para 45.<br />

24. R v S(W) (1994), 18 OR (3d) 509 (CA).<br />

25. See, e.g., R v GMC, 2022 ONCA 2; R v Ramos, 2020 MBCA 111; R v<br />

Wolff, 2019 SKCA 103; YCJA – 1710, 2017 QCCA 757.<br />

26. R v Hemsworth, 2016 ONCA 85 at paras 44–45.<br />

27. Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7.<br />

28. Rules of Civil Procedure, RRO 1990, Reg 194, rr 20.04(2.1)(2.2).<br />

29. Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 at para 57.<br />

30. See, e.g., 2212886 Ontario Inc. v Obsidian Group Inc., 2018 ONCA 670,<br />

where the court found that the motion judge erred in not calling<br />

oral evidence of a witness who was not cross-examined to explore<br />

weaknesses and inconsistencies in his evidence.<br />

31. Pavlovic v Vankar, 2019 ONSC 61 at para 47.<br />

32. See, e.g., Maxwell v Altberg, 2022 ONSC 3680 at para 68.<br />

24 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 25


Town mouse<br />

Neha Chugh<br />

My trial starts in five minutes. I am somewhere between<br />

the satellite courthouse and the 400-series highway I<br />

exited 20 minutes ago. <strong>The</strong>re is a tractor in front of<br />

me and a few cars behind me. Every now and then a large, bold<br />

pickup overtakes me. Snowdrifts blow off the farms adjacent<br />

to the one-lane highway, reducing visibility. Cell reception is<br />

limited. I know that when I get closer to the courthouse, I will<br />

see that my client, the Crown, and my office were trying to get<br />

through to me. I continue driving 35 kilometres an hour, turning<br />

down my podcast so I can enjoy the silence of the kid-free and<br />

client-free time. Full-time lawyer, full-time mom. I have the best<br />

jobs in the world.<br />

Me: A short history<br />

I was born in Toronto, in a downtown hospital. My parents,<br />

recent immigrants from New Delhi, started in a low-rent<br />

apartment in Scarborough while my dad requalified as an<br />

electrical engineer and my mother worked as a bank teller.<br />

One day, while finishing a shift at the bank and close to the<br />

end of her pregnancy with me, my mom felt severe cramping.<br />

She walked to the subway station, stopping every few minutes<br />

to endure the contractions. Somehow, she rode the distance<br />

on the subway, then walked through the busy station to<br />

the stairs, knowing they led toward the hospital. She clutched<br />

the railing and looked up, willing herself to get up the stairs.<br />

Commuters crowded around her, running up and down the<br />

steps. She looked upward at the daylight, her English escaping<br />

her. A contraction, tears, soft muttering in Hindi. Two strangers<br />

grabbed her arms, let her lean into them, and, as she sobbed<br />

softly, helped her up the flight and escorted her to the hospital.<br />

<strong>The</strong> strangers disappeared in the most Toronto way possible, not<br />

exchanging names or phone numbers, just moving through their<br />

evening. My father arrived, and I was born soon after. Baby girl<br />

Neha, almost born in a downtown Toronto subway station.<br />

Because of my father’s job at a robotics company, we moved<br />

from Scarborough to Guelph when I was a toddler. For my<br />

parents, the move from New Delhi to Toronto and then to<br />

Guelph symbolized their search for what they had determined<br />

defined their success: space. Guelph is hardly rural, but it<br />

always had a small-town, earthy vibe. Wide open plots of land,<br />

affordable family homes, a local university and shopping mall,<br />

good schools – an accessible city. At the time, Guelph was a city<br />

of just under a hundred thousand people. My parents added to<br />

the population by growing our family with my two younger<br />

brothers.<br />

<strong>The</strong> suburban sprawl was limited, the makeup of the city<br />

homogeneous, and the traffic and congestion minimal. Saturday<br />

evening strolls took place in the Stone Road Mall, where my<br />

dad would stop and shake hands with every other person. He<br />

proudly showed us off: “Please meet our kids, our daughter<br />

and our boys.” On many weekends we escaped to the Greater<br />

Toronto Area: Brampton for an Indian wedding, Mississauga to<br />

visit cousins and shop for Indian groceries, Rexdale for dinner<br />

and a Bollywood movie at the iconic Albion Cinemas. We had<br />

one foot firmly planted in Guelph and the other navigating our<br />

urban East Indian identities.<br />

My undergraduate years kept me close to home, at the University<br />

of Waterloo and then back to the University of Guelph.<br />

Along the way, I met my husband, an engineering student<br />

with a passion for research and writing and a trajectory for<br />

academia. My husband could trace his family roots to the Mayflower<br />

and was from Hanover, Ontario, population 10,000. It<br />

was safe to say we had little in common but somehow found<br />

our way to each other. My first trip to visit his parents in the<br />

Grey Bruce region was my first lengthy encounter with rural<br />

Ontario. Dinners made with cream and butter, long drives<br />

down country roads to visit family, no Starbucks to be seen for<br />

miles. I was struck by how happy I felt. I knew I stuck out with<br />

my dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes. But I was happy.<br />

Law school was in North York, at Osgoode Hall. Not in<br />

Toronto, but North York. I am reminded of this distinction,<br />

often, by University of Toronto graduates. In my second year of<br />

law school, I found an apartment at King and Bathurst streets,<br />

between the entertainment district and what is now Liberty<br />

Village. <strong>The</strong> commute to school was by streetcar, subway, and<br />

bus – coffee in hand and books on my back.<br />

In my third year of law school, after our great big Indian<br />

wedding, my husband became my permanent roommate. He<br />

was finishing his doctoral studies in engineering at the University<br />

of Waterloo while I articled for criminal lawyers in the city.<br />

Calmly, he would sit at his desk overlooking downtown Toronto<br />

and write his dissertation while I hustled around the city<br />

by different forms of transportation, setting dates in court,<br />

copying and delivering documents, providing legal memos,<br />

watching my principals in action. In the late evenings we would<br />

use a Groupon to get pitas or shawarmas and go for walks, the<br />

TTC rattling beneath us and beside us. We were strangers in a<br />

big city, where we knew only each other.<br />

Our first big move together was to Ottawa, to a rented townhouse<br />

close to the university in Ottawa South. Postdoctoral<br />

studies took my husband to Carleton University, while I had<br />

finished articling and had landed a job in Ottawa. When we<br />

moved to Ottawa, I wondered if this was how my parents felt<br />

after their move from New Delhi to Toronto: from a major<br />

world city, bursting at the seams, to a big city with organized<br />

traffic patterns, reliable transit, and sensible working hours.<br />

<strong>The</strong> transitions are always relative, the yardstick being where<br />

you come from and where you are going.<br />

After two years in Ottawa, it was time for the conversation.<br />

I was pregnant with baby number two. My husband’s postdoctoral<br />

funding was about to run out, and he needed a real job – a<br />

career. <strong>The</strong> academic job market at the time was like a selective<br />

lottery. Scarcity of options meant we could have ended up anywhere.<br />

At the time, he was interviewing in New Hampshire,<br />

Winnipeg, and Montreal. Every interview process was highly<br />

competitive and meant a multi-day interview, dinners, and<br />

performance evaluations based on special guest lectures. During<br />

each interview, his publications were scrutinized, as was<br />

his “fit” and long-term prognosis within the faculty. Was this a<br />

professor the university could invest in for the long term? “We<br />

want to offer you the job, but we are concerned about your wife. What<br />

are her career plans?”<br />

What about me, the wife? <strong>The</strong> trailing spouse. My criminal<br />

law practice. My membership in the Ontario bar. My bilingualism<br />

in English and Hindi. Mother of very young children.<br />

Where did I fit? Would I be a thorn in the faculty’s side? Would<br />

I interfere with my husband’s tenured commitment to the university?<br />

Was I too ambitious to be a supporting actress in a film<br />

where the university was the main character?<br />

When the university in Montreal asked this question, I<br />

traced my finger on a map and pointed to the first town over<br />

the Quebec/Ontario border. “Cornwall!” I said out loud. “We<br />

could live here,” I added, pointing to Montreal’s West Island.<br />

“You could take the commuter train to downtown Montreal,<br />

26 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 27

and I could travel to Cornwall in the opposite<br />

direction.” We took a drive out to<br />

the tree-lined streets of the mature suburban<br />

neighbourhoods in the West Island.<br />

Large plots of land, big backyards,<br />

daycares and parks in walking distance,<br />

a shopping mall.<br />

I wondered if this is how my parents<br />

felt when they moved to Guelph.<br />

Cornwall<br />

“Suivant, next” says the Tim Hortons<br />

cashier in the Pauline Marois franglais<br />

that has emerged across Montreal. I am<br />

halfway through my commute to work,<br />

and I need the coffee break after the<br />

morning chaos of two small children.<br />

Ahead of me is the open road – the highway.<br />

I am the counter-commuter, driving<br />

against the notoriously slow traffic that<br />

characterizes Montreal.<br />

“But isn’t Cornwall so far?” ask my<br />

neighbours, with concern and curiosity.<br />

Not really, I assure them, especially since<br />

I am going against traffic. My spouse’s<br />

commute is routine, as he joins the herds<br />

of commuters on the AMT – the train<br />

that connects the suburbs to the city of<br />

Montreal. “It’s like the GO train,” I reassure<br />

my parents, who are relieved by<br />

the reference. My spouse spends 60 minutes<br />

travelling each way, not including<br />

his coffee stop for organic grind and daycare<br />

drop-offs and pickups.<br />

My commute, on the other hand,<br />

makes no sense to well-meaning inquisitors.<br />

“So you drive all that way? To …<br />

Ontario?” “Well, it’s only fifty minutes,”<br />

I rationalize. “I catch up on calls on my<br />

Bluetooth. I like the time with my audiobooks<br />

and my music. I map out my<br />

cross-examinations.” My commute defies<br />

common sense. Fifty minutes compared<br />

to my husband’s one-hour-plus commute.<br />

“All the way to Ontario! That is a<br />

commitment!”<br />

My family was no better. “Corn …<br />

what?” And, “Where is that?” Sympathetic<br />

stares and more questions about<br />

the commute. Why wouldn’t I want the<br />

thrill of a chic downtown Montreal practice?<br />

A few barriers to joining the Quebec<br />

bar stood in my way, notably a civil<br />

system of law, administered primarily in<br />

French.<br />

I bite my tongue. <strong>The</strong> commute to<br />

Cornwall was the easiest of the adjustments.<br />

In those early days, I was my<br />

mother standing at the bottom of the<br />

subway stairs, looking up for daylight.<br />

28 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

Here is what no one told me about<br />

small-town practice: <strong>The</strong> red carpet is<br />

fairly short. What I had to let go of quickly<br />

was my urban saviour complex. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

would be no Aladdin entrance with elephants<br />

and trumpeters. Generally, there<br />

is a welcoming vibe, with local practitioners<br />

going out of their way to introduce<br />

themselves. An announcement is<br />

disseminated by the local law association<br />

to the email listserv. That email contains<br />

your name, email address, phone and fax<br />

numbers, and practice areas. From there,<br />

the introduction emails and phone calls<br />

begin: invitations for coffee, lunch, and<br />

tours around the courthouse and common<br />

areas. This was a warm embrace.<br />

It didn’t take me long to realize that<br />

while I was embraced, I was still different.<br />

<strong>The</strong> bar in Cornwall is predominantly<br />

white, and the criminal defence bar was<br />

all white and all male. My presence was<br />

making waves. And a deeper issue: <strong>The</strong><br />

members of the bar in Cornwall had<br />

long-standing practices in the region,<br />

and most could trace their roots back to<br />

the St. Lawrence River Valley. I was an<br />

alien in every sense of the word.<br />

Most Cornwall lawyers, unlike their<br />

urban counterparts, work in small or<br />

solo practices. A “large” firm in a small<br />

city like Cornwall might be five to seven<br />

lawyers plus staff – at most. Spouses,<br />

siblings, daughters, and sons make up<br />

a firm’s staff, associates, and partners.<br />

New counsel are often the children coming<br />

home after years away at school and<br />

even practice in the big city. <strong>The</strong> overt<br />

and purposeful choice to set up practice<br />

in Cornwall, with no formal roots in the<br />

community, was unique. <strong>The</strong> decision to<br />

do this as a woman of colour could have<br />

been seen as career subterfuge. I was on<br />

autopilot, trying to change diapers, clean<br />

bottles, adjust to my spouse’s new job,<br />

and build a new practice.<br />

I started Chugh Law in Cornwall in<br />

a one-room office at the bottom of the<br />

stairs of a small building occupied by<br />

another sole practitioner and her puppy;<br />

a husband-and-wife firm at the top of<br />

the stairs; and a father-and-son team<br />

of financial planners. Slowly and surely,<br />

my practice grew. One client turned<br />

into two, two into four, four into a fullblown<br />

clientele. My early principals had<br />

instilled in me the need to be present in<br />

court and available for client meetings<br />

and calls, and I quickly learned that this<br />

presence was important to the community:<br />

a local lawyer available and present for<br />

local clients.<br />

As my practice expanded around me,<br />

I needed help. With not many connections<br />

in town, I had few places to turn. I<br />

grew my practice by hiring the daughter<br />

of another practitioner as my first staff. I<br />

started to notice other newcomers to the<br />

Cornwall area. In 2015, I watched Yashar<br />

Tahmassebipour deliver his sentencing<br />

submissions with legal acumen. I chased<br />

him out of the courtroom and asked him<br />

who he was and where he was from:<br />

“Hey, you! With the brown skin like me!<br />

I have so many questions about you! Be<br />

my friend!” A trailing spouse like me,<br />

he had moved back to Montreal from<br />

Toronto for family reasons. He came to<br />

Cornwall with his common law degree,<br />

looking for clients and work. Today he<br />

is my law partner. I saw Robert Vitulano<br />

in court, presenting his client’s case in a<br />

family law motion. Yet another trailing<br />

spouse, he had moved back to Quebec<br />

following his husband’s career. His succinct<br />

and intelligent submissions left me<br />

with little choice but to hire him. Chandler<br />

Thomas came to me via a referral from<br />

Ottawa. My brother Shunker Chugh was<br />

hired through nepotism.<br />

In 2017, we bought a building and<br />

moved our diverse group of misfits into<br />

our own space: a space in which to be<br />

free and to have joy and music; a space<br />

in a community where we never really<br />

belonged. We found our peace in our<br />

top-floor kitchen, with the afternoon sun<br />

streaming in through the skylights while,<br />

over coffee, we regaled one another with<br />

stories of our day. Tears and fears shared<br />

over files in our boardroom. A sense of<br />

togetherness and safety fostered by being<br />

safe in our space.<br />

Cornwall welcomed with open arms<br />

our work as lawyers, but the homogeneity<br />

of our local bar, the Crown attorneys’<br />

office, the police services, and<br />

other service providers weighed heavily<br />

on us. <strong>The</strong> lawyers of Chugh Law check<br />

the boxes of brown, gay, female, and<br />

young. We are outsiders to Cornwall,<br />

trying to forge our path. We feel our difference<br />

everywhere we go, whether in<br />

legal or casual spaces. We fight the impossible<br />

cases and always connect with<br />

the underdogs because their stories resonate<br />

so deeply with our own. We proudly<br />

challenge status quos, and we find<br />

ourselves in the right place at the right<br />

time in history. But we collapse with the<br />



2021-22<br />

Barry H. Bresner<br />

Larry Lowenstein<br />

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2021-22<br />

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exhaustion of bearing these systemic pressures.<br />

I wonder if this is how my mom felt at the bottom of those<br />

subway stairs: proud, scared, exhausted.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is a richness to rural practice. I thought about this<br />

one day, after an afternoon of sitting mid-trial with a Crown<br />

attorney under a table in a satellite court in Alexandria, Ontario,<br />

waiting for a tornado warning to pass. We were close to<br />

farmland, and the electricity had gone out. I was desperately<br />

searching for cell reception to call home to tell my spouse that<br />

I might not make the daycare pickup.<br />

But beyond anecdotes like this one, there is a palpable difference<br />

to rural practice that must be noted. <strong>The</strong> population<br />

of Cornwall has for decades held steady at just over 50,000.<br />

<strong>The</strong> surrounding rural towns and villages that make up the<br />

Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry region have varying populations,<br />

from the hundreds to ten thousand. Each small town<br />

has its own communities and hamlets. <strong>The</strong>se are subgroups<br />

of small, well-meaning, and interconnected families that have<br />

their own culture and practices. You may know a certain family<br />

from Dundela, or a group of siblings from Dalkeith. <strong>The</strong>re is<br />

warmth and generosity of spirit within these networks.<br />

Social problems hit rural communities differently since the<br />

safety net spreads wider and thinner. Poverty, hunger, and addiction<br />

do not have equality of access to the social programing<br />

that urban centres provide. People from Cornwall remember<br />

when the Domtar paper mill shut down in 2006, impacting<br />

1800 jobs. Many draw this time as a line in the sand for when<br />

social problems took root in the region. This period intersected<br />

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with the dot-com boom and the rise of high-speed computing.<br />

It remains unclear if this area was ready for the shift in economies.<br />

But there are bigger issues. <strong>The</strong> region is on the St. Lawrence<br />

River, adjacent to the United States border. Smuggling of humans,<br />

drugs, guns, and other contraband is a going concern.<br />

<strong>The</strong> region is big and dispersed, more than 100 kilometres<br />

from end to end. <strong>The</strong> predominant linguistic heritages are English,<br />

French, and Mohawk. <strong>The</strong> Akwesasne Reserve spans the<br />

abutting lands to Cornwall, Quebec, and New York State, with<br />

the shared river.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is so much need in rural communities for professionals<br />

to set up practice and to stay. So often, we find the community<br />

receiving specialists on short-term contracts or leaving after<br />

just a short stay. <strong>The</strong> residents of our rural communities are<br />

generations in the making. <strong>The</strong> gaps in access to long-term<br />

relationships with physicians, lawyers, accountants, and other<br />

professionals exacerbate the social problems that have already<br />

taken root.<br />

<strong>The</strong> remote justice system implemented during the pandemic<br />

bridged the rural/urban access to justice gap by making more<br />

lawyers available to “be present” for Cornwall clients. During<br />

this time, there were more retirements of Cornwall lawyers<br />

than permanent replacements, with others working remotely<br />

or taking positions out of town. As courts began to return to<br />

in-person appearances, I understood the tremendous advantage of<br />

clients who have lawyers available to meet them at the courthouse<br />

or at an office in town. <strong>The</strong> depletion of available, present,<br />

and local lawyers in rural communities can be added to the woes<br />

of staff shortages that are being felt in almost every industry.<br />

Today, when I walk down the street in Cornwall to get a<br />

coffee, it is not without running into colleagues and acquaintances.<br />

We stop, we chat, we commit to a future coffee. I am<br />

my dad, proudly shaking hands with his friends in the Guelph<br />

mall, proudly showing off my associates.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Catzman<br />

I won the Catzman Award for Professionalism and Civility in<br />

2022. I was shocked. A nominator forwarded me the email with<br />

the news and I sat in stunned silence, a few tears escaping.<br />

I was nominated by angels, women uplifting women. Maybe<br />

that is how my mom felt when she was carried up those subway<br />

stairs.<br />

With my best friend, Anne Marie McElroy from Ottawa, I<br />

went to Toronto in October 2022 for the Opening of the Courts,<br />

where I would receive the award. Our drive to Toronto was<br />

laughter and music, with our favourite ’90s playlist providing<br />

the soundtrack and our traditional stop at Harvey’s in Kingston.<br />

It was Nuit Blanche weekend in Toronto so, as we pulled into<br />

the city to get to our hotel, we were rerouted because of street<br />

closures and throngs of pedestrians. We escaped the hotel on<br />

Saturday night and excitedly skipped from Nathan Phillips<br />

Square to the Old City Hall steps to see the performances. We<br />

travelled down to King Street and back, and we ordered food<br />

from a hole in the wall of the building our hotel was in. We<br />

were soaking up the Big Smoke.<br />

<strong>The</strong> day before and the day of the ceremony, we roamed<br />

Queen Street while my speech percolated in my head. Why<br />

did they pick me for this award? I was unlike past recipients:<br />

Brown, rural, legal aid practice. <strong>The</strong>re must have been a mistake.<br />

Maybe no one else was nominated? What if the committee<br />

finds out all the truths about me? That my kids often eat butter<br />

pasta and hotdogs because, frankly, I don’t know how to make<br />

anything else. That I have bad days as a lawyer and that I am<br />

fundamentally flawed. In the days between finding out I had<br />

received the award, the news being announced publicly, and<br />

the day of the ceremony, I was quietly afraid that the awards<br />

committee would change its mind. When the news came out<br />

on social media and in newsletters, I was scared that someone<br />

who didn’t like me would call <strong>The</strong> <strong>Advocates’</strong> Society and fill<br />

them in on the “real Neha.” My imposter syndrome ran circles<br />

around my self-confidence.<br />

“I’m so proud of you, buddy. Look at everything you have<br />

done.” Anne-Marie smiled at me and said these words while<br />

we waited at a red light at Queen and University. This intersection<br />

still terrifies me. Run fast or risk standing in the middle<br />

until the next light cycle. I looked at her with gratitude. “Run!”<br />

I shouted when the light changed in our favour.<br />

In that moment, I knew what I wanted to say to the audience<br />

at the ceremony. I wanted to blurt out that I was an imposter,<br />

but a deep breath and then a long conversation with Anne-<br />

Marie reframed the speech into a talk about the actual culprit:<br />

imposter syndrome. I wanted to assure other lawyers that they<br />

are right where they are supposed to be. I wanted to tell them<br />

that there will be no red carpet. I wanted to tell each one of<br />

them that they are more than enough for the roles they are filling<br />

and to fill the spaces they are in with everything they can<br />

and want to give. If their life is taking them to rural Ontario<br />

when they always envisioned a life in downtown Toronto, that<br />

is the space they will fill and be just right for. <strong>The</strong>re will be<br />

days when they are at the bottom of the stairs, and there will<br />

be days when they are carried to the top.<br />

Before we left the city, we walked through Nathan Phillips<br />

Square with our colleague Daniel Brown, current president of<br />

the Criminal Lawyers’ Association. In the midst of our chatter,<br />

he pointed at a tiny brown mouse scurrying through the<br />

square among all the human traffic. “Isn’t that just so typical of<br />

Toronto?” he mused. “A brave little mouse, making a run for it.”<br />

In Aesop’s fable “<strong>The</strong> Town Mouse and <strong>The</strong> Country Mouse,”<br />

the town mouse comes to visit the country mouse in the wideopen<br />

spaces where the country mouse lives. <strong>The</strong>y enjoy fresh<br />

food and drink, while town mouse scoffs at the country mouse<br />

and brags about the splendours of the city. <strong>The</strong> theatre! <strong>The</strong><br />

food choices! <strong>The</strong> apartment buildings! <strong>The</strong> country mouse<br />

joins the town mouse on the return to the city, only to find that<br />

the town mouse’s bragging points are illusory. <strong>The</strong> apartment<br />

is overcrowded, and the mice are chased by a large cat when<br />

they try to reach the tantalizing buffet. <strong>The</strong> town mouse and<br />

the country mouse hide in a hole in the wall before they creep<br />

back into the dining room, only to notice the food is gone. In<br />

most of the adaptations of this fable, the town mouse makes<br />

mockery of the life of the country mouse, while the country<br />

mouse gives the town mouse’s life a chance in earnest before<br />

retreating to rural life.<br />

We found our way to the car, parked below City Hall, and<br />

headed toward the road home. <strong>The</strong> lights and tall buildings<br />

faded into long stretches of wide-open space and ONroute<br />

plazas. Our conversation turned to more serious topics: our<br />

fears, our families, our intentions. After dropping off Anne-<br />

Marie and crossing the border into Quebec, I thought about<br />

my parents. Did they know, back in the dense urban setting<br />

of New Delhi, that a place called Guelph would be their final<br />

destination? Can we predict the places where we’ll end up and<br />

the communities that receive us?<br />

Little brown mouse, I thought, it’s time to return home.<br />

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30 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 31


Our adversary system:<br />

What advocates don’t ask<br />



Anna S.P. Wong<br />

So committed is our profession to the stated premise, the<br />

brick upon which our legal system is built, that not only do we<br />

not attack it but we also seldom ask: Is the adversary approach<br />

really the ultimate factfinder? How does it compare with the<br />

inquisitorial approach favoured by civil law nations?<br />

This article seeks answers to these questions. Before we get<br />

there, a quick definition and a short history lesson are in order.<br />

If lawyers had a book of common wisdom, of truisms and<br />

dictums we live by, then one of the first entries in the book<br />

must be that adjudication is adversary. Credit the courts for<br />

spreading the word. 1 Litigators, against our trained habit to<br />

follow the evidence, accept without insisting on proof that our<br />

mode of trial is best calculated to discover the truth. Through<br />

confrontation between parties and the buildup of tension between<br />

witness and lawyer, witness and witness, and lawyer<br />

and lawyer, the full facts behind a dispute are forced into the<br />

open, allowing the court to reach the most informed decision. To<br />

quote Justice Moldaver: “[F]orceful partisan advocacy facilitates<br />

truth-seeking.” 2<br />

32 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

Adversary system defined<br />

<strong>The</strong> term “adversary” is a bit of a misnomer to describe our<br />

adjudicative method in that it is not characterized by hostility,<br />

as ordinary usage would suggest. Technically speaking, a<br />

system labelled “adversary” exhibits three essential features:<br />

(1) party control; (2) judicial passivity; and (3) formal rules to<br />

regulate the proceeding. 3 <strong>The</strong> first two elements, in particular,<br />

tend to be spotlighted in the jurisprudence. <strong>The</strong> parties, assisted<br />

by their lawyers, do all the heavy lifting when it comes<br />

to fact investigation and case presentation, while the judges<br />

remain “relatively passive” 4 until it is time to decide who wins<br />

on what issue. <strong>The</strong> process is bound by a thicket of technical<br />

and evidentiary rules, only some of which are geared toward<br />

giving the court a complete picture of the truth. 5<br />

<strong>The</strong> inquisitorial system, typically positioned as a rival to<br />

ours, 6 has the division of labour reversed. Judges there run<br />

the show; they are in charge of framing the issues, assembling<br />

the facts, and questioning the witnesses, while the parties,<br />

and their lawyers, play the supporting cast. Judges, committed<br />

to truth seeking, are free to admit evidence that would be<br />

excluded here. Compared with the adversary system, it is not<br />

rules-heavy.<br />

Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed.) makes the adversaryinquisitorial<br />

distinction starkly:<br />

inquisitorial system (18th c) A system of proof-taking<br />

used in civil law, whereby the judge conducts the<br />

trial, determines what questions to ask, and defines the<br />

scope and the extent of the inquiry.<br />

adversary system (1936) A procedural system, such<br />

as the Anglo-American legal system, involving active<br />

and unhindered parties contesting with each other to put<br />

forth a case before an independent decision-maker.<br />

Though no existing legal order is purely one or the other, 7<br />

and the adversary-inquisitorial polarity has been criticized, 8<br />

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2021-22<br />

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the fact remains that there are “two distinct procedural traditions”<br />

whose differences “should not be under-estimated.” 9<br />

A bit of history<br />

To litigators today and of the last few generations, adversary<br />

trials are all we ever knew. It might come as a surprise, then,<br />

to learn that our justice system does not have a long-standing<br />

tradition of being adversary. In fact, for most of England’s legal<br />

history, from which we borrowed, justice was administered<br />

inquisitorially by very active and probing judges. 10<br />

Trials in England in the Tudor and Stuart periods (1485–1714)<br />

did not allow parties to decide what information to serve up<br />

to the trier of fact. Trials in those days were judge-directed inquests,<br />

more akin to what one might find in a modern-day German<br />

or French courtroom than in one of our own. Judges bore<br />

the responsibility of investigating the facts and, along with the<br />

jurors, were the ones firing questions at the accused and witnesses.<br />

11 Lawyers had a much more limited role and, in many<br />

criminal cases, no role to play. In felony matters (e.g., theft,<br />

murder, rape, arson), they were prohibited from acting for the<br />

accused, leaving the latter no choice but to mount their own<br />

defence. 12 While lawyers appeared more frequently in civil<br />

matters, their contributions were primarily related to technical<br />

pleading, and, so, they were known as “pleaders.” 13 No court<br />

counted on them entirely to collect and present the evidence.<br />

At the Court of Chancery, for example, officials appointed by<br />

the court examined witnesses in the parties’ absence on the<br />

interrogatories the latter prepared. 14<br />



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Only in the 18th century and into the 19th did trials transform<br />

into adversary affairs exhibiting the three features described<br />

above. According to legal historian John H. Langbein,<br />

“[t]he adversary model came from the civil side, where the<br />

parties routinely engaged counsel to shape the course of litigation<br />

to partisan advantage.” 15 Counsel participation expanded,<br />

judicial inquiry shifted to party control, and rules regulating<br />

the contest multiplied over time. On the criminal side, we have<br />

thief-takers to thank for helping to spur the evolution. 16 With<br />

their eye on the bounty paid by the government on conviction,<br />

these hired guns, who apprehended criminals and acted<br />

as both witness and advocate at trial, were disposed to give<br />

false reports and use various manoeuvres to steer the jury to a<br />

guilty verdict. After a string of reward scandals and wrongful<br />

executions, procedural protections were put in place, allowing<br />

defendants to hire counsel to cross-examine the thief-taker so<br />

as to probe their credibility and expose fabrications. In parallel,<br />

juror interrogation of witnesses was increasingly circumscribed.<br />

17 Judges came to recognize that parties had a right to<br />

execute their own trial strategy, including in the selection and<br />

examination of their own witnesses. 18<br />

Alongside the counsel’s expanding role came another trend:<br />

Trials became adversary in the popular sense of the word.<br />

Advocacy shifted from promoting the interests of truth<br />

to selling the winning version of it. 19 With the new focus,<br />

lawyers “pushed harder,” became “more aggressive, more<br />

actively committed to their clients’ interests, and more challenging<br />

of the rules under which they were allowed to work.” 20<br />

<strong>The</strong> principle of no-holds-barred advocacy<br />

found its most famous champion<br />

in Lord Brougham whose credo, which<br />

he told the House of Lords in 1820, boiled<br />

down to this: <strong>The</strong> client is all that matters.<br />

Nineteenth-century advocates, with few<br />

ethical restraints on their behaviour, 21<br />

could be sharp-tongued, hawkish, even<br />

wily. Consider the following reaction of<br />

a barrister after he was alleged by his<br />

friend to have misled the court:<br />

<strong>The</strong> accused party, instead of taking<br />

fire at this attack on his professional<br />

character, folded his arms,<br />

and, with the most perfect<br />

composure, gravity and<br />

archness, answered, “Certainly!<br />

What am I, or any<br />

of us here for, but to mislead<br />

the court if we can!” 22<br />

In summary, the adversary<br />

approach to trying cases is a<br />

fairly recent innovation – and<br />

an accidental one at that. As<br />

was observed, “It was neither<br />

part of a grand governmental<br />

design nor the scheme of an ingenious<br />

legal philosopher.” 23 A system that was<br />

not built by design could still function<br />

splendidly, of course, so let us consider<br />

how well it works – and get to the questions<br />

posed at the outset.<br />

Adversary vs inquisitorial:<br />

Which is better at truth-seeking?<br />

Courts up and down the ladder have<br />

told us, without a lick of doubt, that “the<br />

Canadian justice system promotes the<br />

search for truth by allowing the parties<br />

to put their best cases before the court,<br />

thereby enabling the court to reach a decision<br />

with the best information possible.” 24<br />

How effective, really, is a system that relies<br />

on collision between opposing narratives<br />

to hammer out the truth? Is there evidence<br />

to endorse the sensibility of holding adversary<br />

trials over judicial inquisitions?<br />

Which system works better is something<br />

that has riveted a small number<br />

of social scientists, though they’d be the<br />

first to tell you that it is impossible to<br />

prove empirically and definitively that<br />

one trumps the other at truth-finding.<br />

After all, we can’t verify what actually<br />

happened in every court case to assess<br />

it against what the judge found. <strong>The</strong> empirical<br />

research that exists has instead<br />

involved laboratory simulations with university<br />

students. In their groundbreaking<br />

experiment, Lind, Thibaut, and Walker –<br />

two social psychologists and a law professor<br />

– had students, assigned to the role<br />

of either a client-centred (adversarial)<br />

advocate or a court-centred (inquisitorial)<br />

lawyer, gather facts and then relay them<br />

to the decision-maker. 25 <strong>The</strong> two groups,<br />

the researchers found, were similarly<br />

diligent in the search for facts, 26 but they<br />

told quite a different story to the decision-maker<br />

afterward. <strong>The</strong> advocates<br />

relayed few “bad” facts – facts unfavourable<br />

to their client – whereas the inquisitorial<br />

lawyers provided a more balanced<br />

How effective, really, is a system that relies<br />

on collision between opposing narratives to<br />

hammer out the truth? Is there evidence to<br />

endorse the sensibility of holding adversary<br />

trials over judicial inquisitions?<br />

view of the evidence. What’s more, the<br />

advocates tended to interpret ambiguous<br />

evidence as supportive of the position they<br />

were pitching. 27 Partisan engagement, it<br />

seems, colours the presentation of evidence,<br />

which could well leave the decision-maker<br />

with two distorted or otherwise<br />

incomplete sets of facts. It stands to<br />

reason that two distorted accounts do not<br />

make an unbiased whole.<br />

Another of Thibaut, Walker, and Lind’s<br />

experiments suggests that an adversary<br />

format produces fairer, more accurate<br />

decisions. 28 In that study, biased subjects<br />

– that is, those who came into a case with<br />

a preconceived notion of how they might<br />

decide – tended to decide that way when<br />

evidence was presented in a non-adversary<br />

as opposed to adversary manner.<br />

Curiously, the style of presentation had<br />

no influence on unbiased decision-makers.<br />

It was not apparent why this was the<br />

case, and the researchers could only<br />

speculate. This research, pioneering<br />

as it is, has not gone without criticism.<br />

Critics have flagged two methodological<br />

difficulties which cast doubts on the<br />

findings. First, the simulations used do<br />

not adequately correspond to reality. 29 A<br />

central feature of inquisitorial adjudication<br />

– an active judge with broad investigatory<br />

powers – was entirely discounted<br />

as, under both models, the decisionmaker<br />

was restricted to being a passive<br />

listener. Second, using students to test judicial<br />

behaviour is problematic because<br />

students lack the training, expertise, and<br />

necessary motivations of working judges.<br />

It is quite possible that judges in actual<br />

trials would not behave as 20-somethings<br />

do in mock settings.<br />

<strong>The</strong> sum total of Lind, Thibaut, and<br />

Walker’s research endorses the inquisitorial<br />

method as the better truth-finder.<br />

In their own words, a “system delegating<br />

both process and decision control to a<br />

disinterested third party is most likely to<br />

produce truth.” 30 Nonetheless,<br />

they concluded that the<br />

adversary system is “clearly<br />

superior,” 31 because participants<br />

believed it is fairer. 32<br />

This finding about fairness<br />

perception is suspect, however,<br />

given that the “inquisitorial”<br />

model in the study<br />

afforded parties no voice in<br />

the process; of course, no<br />

one would prefer it. According<br />

to later research, the vast<br />

majority of people prefer a procedure<br />

that permits them to present evidence<br />

and arguments while also allowing judicial<br />

questioning 33 – that is, a process that<br />

comes closer to modem inquisitorial procedure<br />

34 – and rank it fairer than a purely<br />

adversary one.<br />

Economists have also attempted to<br />

thrash out the comparative merits of the<br />

two systems. 35 According to economist<br />

Gordon Tullock, the adversary process is<br />

both less accurate and more expensive. 36<br />

His theory goes like this: Suppose there<br />

is a Mr. Right and a Mr. Wrong in every<br />

case. In an adversary setting, Mr. Wrong<br />

has no motive to ensure that an accurate<br />

decision is rendered, but he would have<br />

strong motives to hire lawyers to stave<br />

off judgment day or, even better, defeat<br />

Mr. Right. As it were, “a great deal of the<br />

resources are put in by someone [i.e., Mr.<br />

Wrong] who is attempting to mislead” –<br />

resources that would not have to be spent<br />

to achieve accuracy under an inquisitorial<br />

arrangement. 37 Tullock’s theory has<br />

been borne out in experiments when<br />

Mr. Wrong had the full facts incriminating<br />

him but Mr. Right did not. 38 When<br />

both sides have the same information,<br />

such that Mr. Wrong could not bluff,<br />

the adversary system is able to achieve<br />

the correct result more efficiently.<br />

Richard Posner, a defender of the adversary<br />

system, offers a very different<br />

34 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 35

perspective. 39 <strong>The</strong> inquisitorial model, he claims, relies too<br />

heavily on public sector judges who are not sufficiently motivated<br />

to turn over every pebble, lift every boulder, to get at the<br />

truth in every case since their economic self-interest is only<br />

indirectly tied to the outcome of each case. Contrast this approach<br />

with adversarial litigation. Litigants and their lawyers,<br />

who profit from winning, have every reason to look hard and<br />

dig deep for favourable evidence and to expose errors and inconsistencies<br />

in their opponent’s position. A system that leverages<br />

competition optimizes fact-finding.<br />

Posner’s theory, attractive as it may be at first blush, suffers<br />

from some difficulties. Granted, in an adversary system<br />

each side is highly motivated to search for facts that advance<br />

their interest. But what about relevant evidence that neither<br />

party thinks is helpful to them? Would that be revealed to<br />

the judge? Unlikely, which can pose a hazard to decisional<br />

accuracy. Moreover, the incentives for parties to be diligent<br />

in their search for evidence can also nudge them to suppress<br />

or bend the truth to one’s advantage. When otherwise disinterested<br />

witnesses are prepared for trial by one side or the<br />

other, as is expected under the adversary system, they risk<br />

having their memory tainted, becoming partisans themselves.<br />

Jerome Frank explains: “<strong>The</strong>y come to regard themselves, not<br />

as aids in an investigation bent on discovering the truth, not as<br />

aids to the court, but as the ‘plaintiff’s witnesses’ or the<br />

‘defendant’s witnesses.’ <strong>The</strong>y become soldiers in a war, cease<br />

to be neutrals.” 40<br />

Taken together, the inquisitorial method seems to edge out<br />

John Collins, B.A., LL.B.<br />

Barrister and Solicitor<br />

Certified by <strong>The</strong> Law Society of Upper Canada<br />

As a Specialist in Criminal Law<br />

Over 40 Years of Trial and Appellate Experience<br />

2000 - 393 University Ave,<br />

Toronto, ON<br />

M5G 1E6<br />

Tel: (416) 364-9006<br />

Fax: (416) 593-1352<br />

Cell: (416) 726-8279<br />

E-mail: john.collins@on.aibn.com<br />

Website: johncollinslaw.com<br />

johncollinslaw.com<br />

the adversary method for accuracy in fact-finding, at least in<br />

theory and in the laboratory. But even if the adversary system<br />

lends the right mix of incentives, there’s still a practical<br />

problem. For the adversary system to work as its proponents<br />

claim, disputants must have lawyers matched in competence<br />

representing them and equal resources to devote to the cause.<br />

This kind of symmetry is more illusory than real. In reality, the<br />

playing field is far from level in all cases. Instead, wealth often<br />

dictates who has the savvier lawyer, who is able to wear down<br />

their opponent and obstruct the truth-finding process such that<br />

“justice often appears to be for sale to the highest bidder.” 41<br />

<strong>The</strong> failure of the adversary process when the fight is not<br />

even was laid bare in Girao v Cunningham. 42 <strong>The</strong> self-represented<br />

plaintiff, speaking through an interpreter, was a sitting target<br />

for the coterie of defence lawyers she was up against. <strong>The</strong><br />

defence knew how to stretch the rules of gamesmanship, to<br />

put the adverse into adversary. Among other things, they filed<br />

a “joint trial brief” selectively redacted to suit their client’s<br />

interest, blocked the plaintiff from filing her expert’s report<br />

and calling the expert, and put her through a mocking<br />

cross-examination. <strong>The</strong> effect of all this, which unfolded before<br />

a noninterventionist judge who was content to let the lawyers<br />

be, was to leave the jury with a one-sided story. It is probably<br />

obvious which side prevailed at trial; less obvious is whether<br />

the truth did.<br />

What now?<br />

Perhaps the best evidence there is that the adversary model<br />

doesn’t live up to the hype lies in our move away from it. Over<br />

the years, various “inquisitorial” mechanisms have been imported<br />

into our system to dilute its adversariness. Among these<br />

mechanisms in the civil context are judicial case management<br />

and mandatory mediation. <strong>The</strong> former wrests control from the<br />

parties; the latter takes a case out of the court’s hands to respectively<br />

narrow and settle claims. <strong>The</strong> Rules of Civil Procedure<br />

also empower judges to take the reins by ordering case conferences,<br />

staying motions, even appointing independent experts<br />

“on his or her own initiative.” 43 <strong>The</strong>n there is disclosure and<br />

discovery, standard steps in criminal and civil litigation today<br />

which were foreign to adversary adjudication in its earlier<br />

history. 44 Dissatisfaction with the adversary model has been<br />

simmering to a boil in family law, where self-representation<br />

has been epidemic. Judges in family cases have acknowledged<br />

that adversarial litigation is unhelpful, if not harmful, and they<br />

willingly give away business, encouraging parties to take their<br />

disputes outside the courts for resolution. 45 Ethical guidelines<br />

for judges, updated in 2021, now recommend against “passive<br />

neutrality” in all cases. 46<br />

<strong>The</strong> “adversary” description has an increasingly fragile correspondence<br />

with reality, considering the evolution of our system.<br />

To be sure, trial judges are still cautioned to not “enter the<br />

fray” 47 or “descend into the arena,” 48 which is to say, play too<br />

active a role. But trial management powers have been construed<br />

increasingly elastically, widening the scope for judicial intervention.<br />

Judges can curtail cross-examination, 49 put questions<br />

to witnesses, and raise concerns about the case with the parties<br />

50 in order to keep a trial focused and on course. Still, the<br />

dividing line between proper and improper intervention is a<br />

shifting frontier. Where it sits, or should sit, is something over<br />

which respected jurists disagree, as split appellate decisions<br />

Notes<br />

1. A search on Quicklaw for decisions with references to “adversary<br />

system” or “adversarial system” yielded more than 3,300 hits.<br />

2. Groia v Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27 at para 72.<br />

3. Phillips v Ford Motor Co of Canada Ltd (1971), 18 DLR (3d) 641 (Ont<br />

CA) at 661; David Luban, Lawyers and Justice: An Ethical Study<br />

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988) at 56–57; Stephan<br />

Landsman, “Rise of the Contentious Spirit: Adversary Procedure<br />

in Eighteenth Century England “ (1989–1990) 75:3 Cornell L Rev 496<br />

at 500.<br />

4. Landsman, ibid; JA Jolowicz, “Adversarial and Inquisitorial<br />

Models of Civil Procedure” (2003) 52:2 Int’l and Comparative L<br />

Q 281.<br />

5. An example of a non-truth-oriented rule is settlement<br />

privilege, “a rule of evidence that protects the confidentiality<br />

of communications and information exchanged for the purpose<br />

of settling a dispute”: Association de médiation familiale du<br />

Québec v Bouvier, 2021 SCC 54 at para 95.<br />

6. Brar v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), [2020] 4<br />

FCR 419.<br />

7. JA Jolowicz, “Adversarial and Inquisitorial Models of Civil<br />

Procedure” (2003) 52:2 Int’l and Comparative L Q 281 at 281;<br />

John R Spencer, “Adversarial vs Inquisitorial Systems: Is <strong>The</strong>re<br />

Still Such a Difference?” (2016) 20:5 Int’l J of Human Rights 601.<br />

8. See, e.g., Máximo Langer, “<strong>The</strong> Long Shadow of the Adversarial<br />

and Inquisitorial Categories” in Markus D Dubber and Tatjana<br />

Hörnle, Oxford Handbook of Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University<br />

Press, 2015).<br />

make apparent. 51<br />

Projecting ahead, it is likely that our<br />

system of justice will continue to inch<br />

slowly in the inquisitorial direction, settling<br />

on what might be called a mixed<br />

procedure. At the Opening of the Courts<br />

last fall, Chief Justice Morawetz announced<br />

that major change to civil proceedings<br />

is on the horizon: “This is an<br />

opportunity to rewrite the rules.” 52 While<br />

full details of what is in store have yet to<br />

be unveiled, no one, not for a hot minute,<br />

would believe that full abandonment<br />

of adversary practices would be entertained.<br />

Nor would that necessarily be a<br />

good idea, as adversary and inquisitorial<br />

schemes each have their strengths and<br />

weaknesses. But with backlogs and delays<br />

approaching paralyzing levels, and<br />

pro se representation on the rise, 53 there is<br />

every reason for us to look elsewhere for<br />

inspiration. International tribunals and<br />

some other legal systems have been converging<br />

on “adversarial inquisitions” 54 or<br />

blended models that try to bring together<br />

the best of both worlds. 55 In our case, if the<br />

status quo of party domination is not producing<br />

the outcomes we want as a society,<br />

9. John D Jackson, “Responses to Salduz: Procedural Tradition,<br />

Change and the Need for Effective Defence” (2016) 79:6 Modern<br />

L Rev 987 at 989.<br />

10. JM Beattie, Crime and the Courts in England, 1660–1800 (Oxford:<br />

Oxford University Press, 1986) at 345.<br />

11. See, generally, James S Cockburn, A History of the English Assizes,<br />

1558–1714 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), ch 6;<br />

John H Langbein, <strong>The</strong> Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial (Oxford:<br />

Oxford University Press, 2003); Thomas A Green, Verdict<br />

According to Conscience: Perspectives on the English Criminal Trial<br />

Jury, 1200–1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985);<br />

Philip Girard, Jim Phillips, & R Blake Brown, A History of Law in<br />

Canada, Volume One (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)<br />

at 293–94; Beattie, ibid, ch 7.<br />

12. Beattie, ibid, at 352–56; TP Gallanis, “<strong>The</strong> Mystery of Old Bailey<br />

Counsel” (2006) 65:1 Cambridge L J 159 at 159–60.<br />

13. Wilfrid Prest, ed, Lawyers in Early Modern Europe and America<br />

(New York: Holmes & Meier, 1981) at 67–69.<br />

14. John H Baker, <strong>The</strong> Oxford History of the Laws of England (Oxford:<br />

Oxford University Press, 2003) at 185; Amalia D Kessler, “Our<br />

Inquisitorial Tradition: Equity Procedure, Due Process, and the<br />

Search for an Alternative to the Adversarial” (2005) 90:5 Cornell<br />

L Rev 1181 at 1207.<br />

15. Langbein, supra note 11 at 8.<br />

16. Landsman, supra note 3 at 572–81; Langbein, supra note 11 at<br />

148–58.<br />

common wisdom would suggest that we<br />

explore expanding judicial controls<br />

and having judges play a more robust,<br />

inquiring part right from the very start.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y can oversee the framing of issues<br />

early on, direct experts to be engaged<br />

where the case demands it, and vet the<br />

parties’ proposed witnesses for relevance,<br />

to better ensure that the truth about the<br />

essential matters is not lost to diversions.<br />

All possibilities should be considered,<br />

even those that would, against our own<br />

interest, demote the advocate to a less<br />

critical role.<br />

36 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 37

17. Langbein, supra note 11 at 320. See also Niamh Howlin, “Passive<br />

32. Thibaut and Walker, ibid. See also Paulina Houlden et al,<br />

41. Kessler, supra note 14 at 1251.<br />

50. R v Teed, [2020] AJ No 992 (CA) at para 18; R v Hunter, [2001]<br />

Observers or Active Participants? Jurors in Civil and Criminal<br />

“Preference for Modes of Dispute Resolution as a Function of<br />

42. 2017 ONSC 2452, rev’d 2020 ONCA 260.<br />

BCJ No 2003 (Prov Ct) at paras 27–34; See also Chippewas of<br />

Trials” (2014) 35:2 <strong>Journal</strong> of Legal History 143 at 143–47.<br />

Process and Decision Control” (1978) 14 <strong>Journal</strong> of Experimental<br />

43. RRO 1990, Reg 194, r 2.1.02(1), 50.13(1), and 52.03(1), respectively.<br />

Mnjikaning First Nation v Ontario, 2010 ONCA 47 at paras 233–34.<br />

18. JH Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History, 4th ed (Oxford:<br />

Social Psychology 13.<br />

44. R v Stinchcombe, [1991] 3 SCR 326 at 332.<br />

51. See, e.g., Samaniego, supra note 49.<br />

Oxford University Press, 2002) at 85; Landsman, supra note 3 at<br />

33. Blair H Sheppard, “Justice Is No Simple Matter: Case for<br />

45. Colucci v Colucci, 2021 SCC 24 at para 69. See also Nicholas<br />

52. Geoffrey B Morawetz, “Opening of Courts Remarks” (3 October<br />

531.<br />

Elaborating Our Model of Procedural Fairness” (1985)<br />

Bala, “Reforming Family Dispute Resolution in Ontario:<br />

2022); online: .<br />

of Metavalues in Trial Advocacy Advice Texts (Oxford: Oxford<br />

summarized in Mark R Fondacaro, Christopher Slobogin, &<br />

Anthony Duggan, & Lorne Sossin, eds, Middle Income Access to<br />

53. Jennifer Lynch and Margot Mary Davis, “What Can Be Done<br />

University Press, 2016), ch 3.<br />

Tricia Cross, “Reconceptualizing Due Process in Juvenile Justice:<br />

Justice (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012) 271 at 286–87.<br />

About Upward Trend of Self-Represented Litigants” <strong>The</strong> Lawyers<br />

20. JM Beattie, “Scales of Justice: Defense Counsel and the English<br />

Contributions from Law and Social Science” (2005) 57:5 Hastings<br />

46. Canadian Judicial Council, “Ethical Principles for Judges”;<br />

Daily (18 May 2021), online: .<br />

21. David JA Cairns, Advocacy and the Making of the Adversarial<br />

87:3 S Cal L Rev 699 at 711.<br />

47. R v Switzer, 2014 ABCA 129 at para 7; R v Oracz, 2011 ABCA 341.<br />

54. <strong>The</strong> term is from Keith A Findley, “Adversarial Inquisitions:<br />

Criminal Trial 1800 –1865 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)<br />

35. See, e.g., Alice Guerra et al, “Deterrence, Settlement, and<br />

48. Children’s Aid Society of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo v RC,<br />

Rethinking the Search for the Truth” (2011) 56:3 NY L Sch L<br />

at 87.<br />

Litigation Under Adversarial versus Inquisitorial Systems”<br />

[2008] OJ No. 4301 (SCJ) at para 14. Note that “[u]nlike trial courts,<br />

Rev 911.<br />

22. “Lawyer-Reform, or Observations on the Prevailing Moral,<br />

(2022) Public Choice; Shruti Rajagopalan, “Adversarial versus<br />

where judges typically do not descend into the arena, appellate<br />

55. Spencer, supra note 7; Felicity Nagorcka, Michael Stanton, &<br />

Standing of Legal Practice, and Hints for a Revision of it by the<br />

Inquisitorial Systems: Error and Valuation” (2017) <strong>Journal</strong> of<br />

court judges are expected to enter the fray and challenge<br />

Michael Wilson, “Stranded Between Partisanship and the Truth?<br />

Profession” (1831) 1:3 Edinburgh LJ 225 at 225.<br />

Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis 1; Luke M Froeb<br />

counsel and … to play an active role in the appeal hearing”<br />

A Comparative Analysis of Legal Ethics in the Adversarial and<br />

23. Landsman, supra note 3 at 502.<br />

and Bruce H Kobayashi, “Evidence Production in Adversarial vs.<br />

(R v Van Wissen, 2018 MBCA 100 at para 16).<br />

Inquisitorial Systems of Justice” (2005) 29:2 Melb U L Rev 448;<br />

24. Lizotte v Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, [2016] 2 SCR 521 at<br />

Inquisitorial Regimes” (2001) 70 Economics Letters 267; Richard<br />

49. R v Samaniego, 2022 SCC 9.<br />

Anogika Souresh, “<strong>The</strong> Adversarial vs Inquisitorial Dichotomy<br />

para 65. See also R v Joanisse (1995), 102 CCC (3d) 35 (Ont CA) at<br />

A Posner, Economic Analysis of Law, 9th ed (New York: Wolters<br />

in International Criminal Law: A Redundant Conversation”<br />

para 64; R v Osborne, 2019 ONSC 399 at para 18.<br />

Kluwer, 2014); Richard A Posner, “An Economic Approach to the<br />

(2019) 5:1 ICJ 81.<br />

25. E Allan Lind, John Thibaut, & Laurens Walker, “Discovery<br />

Law of Evidence” (1999) 51:6 Stanford L Rev 1477; Gordon Tullock,<br />

and Presentation of Evidence in Adversary and Nonadversary<br />

“Optimal Procedure” in Charles K Rowley, ed, <strong>The</strong> Selected Works<br />

Proceedings” (1973) 71:6 Mich L Rev 1129. <strong>The</strong>se findings have<br />

of Gordon Tullock, Vol. 9 (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004) at<br />

been replicated: Blair H Sheppard and Neil Vidmar, “Adversary<br />

274–90; Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, “Advocates”<br />

Pretrial Procedures and Testimonial Evidence: Effects of<br />

(1999) 107:1 <strong>Journal</strong> of Political Economy 1; Hyun Song Shin,<br />

Lawyer’s Role and Machiavellianism” (1980) 39:2 <strong>Journal</strong> of<br />

“Adversarial and Inquisitorial Procedures in Arbitration” (1998)<br />

Personality and Social Psychology 320.<br />

29:2 RAND <strong>Journal</strong> of Economics 378.<br />

26. With the exception that advocates looked harder when they were<br />

36. Gordon Tullock. Trials on Trial (New York: Columbia University<br />

initially confronted with a set of facts damaging to their client.<br />

See Lind, Thibaut, & Walker, ibid at 1143.<br />

27. Barbara O’Brien, “Recipe for Bias: An Empirical Look at the<br />

Interplay between Institutional Incentives and Bounded<br />

Rationality in Prosecutorial Decision Making” (2009) 74:4<br />

Missouri L Rev 999.<br />

28. John Thibaut, Laurens Walker, & E Allan Lind, “Adversary<br />

Presentation and Bias in Legal Decisionmaking” (1972) 86:2 Harv<br />

L Rev 386.<br />

29. Mirjan Damaška, “Presentation of Evidence and Factfinding<br />

Precision “ (1975) 123:5 U Pa L Rev 1083 at 1099.<br />

30. John Thibaut and Laurens Walker, “A <strong>The</strong>ory of Procedure”<br />

(1978) 66:3 Calif L Rev 541 at 547.<br />

31. John Thibaut and Laurens Walker, Procedural Justice: A<br />

Psychological Analysis (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1975) at 118.<br />

Press, 1980). That litigation spending is higher in the adversarial<br />

system has been confirmed and rationalized by others: Alice<br />

Guerra et al, ibid; Francesco Parisi, “Rent-Seeking Through<br />

Litigation: Adversarial and Inquisitorial Systems Compared”<br />

(2002) 22 Int’l Rev L & Econ 193 at 208.<br />

37. Tullock, ibid at 96.<br />

38. Justin Sevier, “<strong>The</strong> Truth-Justice Tradeoff: Perceptions of<br />

Decisional Accuracy and Procedural Justice in Adversarial and<br />

Inquisitorial Legal Systems” (2014) 20:2 Psychology, Public<br />

Policy, and Law, 212.<br />

39. Richard A Posner, “Comment: Responding to Gordon Tullock”<br />

in Stuart S Nagel, ed, Research in Law and Policy Studies, Vol. 2<br />

(Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1988) at 29–33; Posner, supra note 35.<br />

40. Jerome Frank, Courts on Trial: Myth and Reality in American Justice<br />

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949) at 86.<br />


Congratulations to the TAS leaders appointed to the bench in 2022/23 to serve the justice<br />

system after going above and beyond to serve our members and the work of TAS.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Andres C. Garin, former Vice-Chair of the Quebec Regional Advisory<br />

Committee, appointed as a Judge to the Quebec Superior Court.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Peter J. Osborne, former TAS Director, appointed to the Superior Court of<br />

Justice of Ontario.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Joan M. Barrett, former TAS Director, appointed to the Superior Court of<br />

Justice of Ontario.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Faisal Mirza, former TAS Director, appointed to the Superior Court of<br />

Justice of Ontario.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Hon. Justice Martha A. Cook, former TAS Director, appointed to the Superior Court of<br />

Justice of Ontario.<br />

38 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 39


Classics from the vault:<br />

Some observations<br />

on the art of advocacy<br />

Les classiques du coffre-fort :<br />

Quelques observations<br />

sur l’art du plaidoyer<br />

Joanie Lapalme and/et Michael Shortt<br />

Foreword<br />

Lord Macmillan was one of the leading advocates and judges<br />

of his day, representing Canada before the Judicial Committee<br />

of the Privy Council and having the rare honour of being<br />

appointed directly to the House of Lords from private practice.<br />

In 1935, he gave a speech to the Birmingham Law Students<br />

Society that drew upon his vast experience as both a litigator<br />

and an adjudicator. That speech now returns to print as part of<br />

the Classics from the Vault series, in recognition of its breadth<br />

and depth of insight into the art of advocacy, which Lord<br />

Macmillan defined as the art of “presenting a case to a tribunal<br />

[so] as to secure if possible a desired decision.”<br />

In his speech, Lord Macmillan gave wide-ranging advice<br />

about attaining that end. Some of his advice was ground-breaking;<br />

indeed, the speech contains one of the earliest known references<br />

to preparing a compendium (or condensed book) of<br />

documents to support oral argument. Much of his advice<br />

remains timeless, particularly his comments on judicial<br />

psychology. And inevitably, at least some of his advice was<br />

time-bound and context-specific, like his recommendation that<br />

lawyers sprinkle literary and classical references throughout<br />

their oral argument.<br />

This article represents a slight abridgement of the original<br />

text, in order to highlight the advice that remains relevant today.<br />

Additionally, Lord Macmillan’s speech will be appearing<br />

in French for the first time, thereby allowing it to reach a wider<br />

Canadian audience than it did in the 1930s.<br />

~ J.L. and M.S.<br />

Avant-propos<br />

Comptant parmi les avocats et juges phares de son époque,<br />

lord Macmillan a représenté le Canada devant le Conseil privé<br />

et a eu le rare honneur d’être nommé à la Chambre des lords<br />

directement de la pratique privée. En 1935, devant la Birmingham<br />

Law Students’ Society, il a prononcé une allocution s’inspirant<br />

de sa vaste expérience en tant que plaideur et juge.<br />

Dans le cadre de la série Les classiques du coffre-fort, ce discours<br />

est réimprimé en reconnaissance de son étendue et de sa profondeur<br />

à l’égard de l’art du plaidoyer – que lord Macmillan a<br />

défini comme étant l’art de « présenter une cause à un tribunal<br />

afin que soit rendue, si possible, la décision souhaitée ».<br />

Dans son allocution, lord Macmillan a donné de nombreux conseils<br />

pour atteindre cet objectif. Certains de ses conseils étaient<br />

révolutionnaires : le discours contient en fait l’une des premières<br />

références connues à la préparation d’un compendium (ou recueil<br />

condensé) regroupant les documents clés afin d’appuyer la plaidoirie<br />

orale. Une grande partie de ses conseils sont intemporels,<br />

notamment ceux portant sur la psychologie judiciaire. Et inévitablement,<br />

certains conseils sont ancrés dans leur époque, comme<br />

lorsque lord Macmillan recommande aux avocats de parsemer<br />

leur plaidoirie de références littéraires et classiques.<br />

Cet article présente une version abrégée du texte original<br />

afin de mettre en lumière les conseils qui demeurent pertinents<br />

aujourd’hui. De plus, ce discours de lord Macmillan va<br />

être présenté en français pour la toute première fois, ce qui lui<br />

permettra d’atteindre un public canadien plus vaste qu’il ne l’a<br />

fait dans les années 1930.<br />

~ J.L. et M.S.<br />

If I were to select the rule which in my estimation above all<br />

others should govern the presentation of an argument in<br />

Court, it is this – always keep steadily in mind that what the<br />

Judge is seeking is material for the judgment or opinion which<br />

all through the case he knows he will inevitably have to frame<br />

and deliver at the end. He is not really interested in the advocate’s<br />

pyrotechnic displays; he is searching all the time for the<br />

determining facts and the principles of law which he will ultimately<br />

embody in his decision.<br />

I remember a friend of mine on the Bench once discussing<br />

with me the advocacy of a certain counsel. He came into Court<br />

briskly, spoke well and vigorously and at reasonable length,<br />

and indeed exhibited all the outward evidences of what is<br />

known as “a good appearance.” He left the Court receiving<br />

the congratulations of his junior and the thanks of his client.<br />

All seemed well. “But,” said the Judge, “when I came to write<br />

my judgment in my study at home that night I found I had<br />

a blank note book. <strong>The</strong> speech apparently so successful had<br />

contributed just nothing to assist me in my task. On analysis<br />

I found it to consist chiefly of robust commonplaces and confident<br />

assertions.” On the other hand how often a halting address,<br />

delivered with every fault of manner and diction but<br />

manifestly the result of careful thought and thorough research,<br />

will command the respect of the Bench and provide the Judge<br />

with the very material he wants. Counsel’s task is to help the<br />

Si je choisissais la règle qui, à mon avis, devrait régir la<br />

présentation d’un argument devant la Cour, ce serait celleci<br />

: gardez toujours à l’esprit que ce que le juge recherche<br />

est primordial pour le jugement ou l’opinion que, tout au<br />

long de l’affaire, ce dernier sait qu’il devra rendre et présenter,<br />

inévitablement, à la fin du processus. Il n’est pas vraiment<br />

intéressé par les démonstrations pyrotechniques de l’avocat; ce<br />

qu’il recherche impérativement, ce sont les faits déterminants et<br />

les principes de droit qui seront, en définitive, le fondement de<br />

sa décision.<br />

Je me souviens de la discussion que j’ai eue avec l’un de mes<br />

amis, qui est juge, au sujet de la plaidoirie d’un certain avocat.<br />

Il s’est présenté devant la Cour d’un bon pas, s’est exprimé<br />

avec aisance et vigueur lors de son exposé d’une longueur<br />

raisonnable, et arborait tous les signes extérieurs de ce que<br />

l’on considère comme une « belle apparence ». Il a reçu les<br />

félicitations de son apprenti et les remerciements de son client<br />

à sa sortie de la Cour. Tout paraissait aller pour le mieux.<br />

« Cependant », a dit le juge, « lorsque j’ai voulu écrire mon<br />

jugement, attablé dans mon étude à la maison, ce soirlà,<br />

je me suis rendu compte que je me trouvais devant un<br />

cahier de notes blanc. Le discours apparemment si réussi<br />

n’avait absolument rien apporté qui aurait pu m’aider à<br />

m’acquitter de ma tâche. Après analyse, j’ai constaté qu’il se<br />

composait principalement de lieux communs présentés de<br />

40 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 41

Court – to help the Court to reach a decision<br />

in his client’s favour. I used always<br />

to have before me the vision of the<br />

Judge sitting down at his desk to write<br />

his judgment after all the stir and excitement<br />

of the debate was over. Extreme<br />

propositions confidently advanced at the<br />

Bar do not help him then. He wants the<br />

clear phrase; the moderately-stated principle,<br />

the dispassionate array of facts<br />

which may appropriately find a place in<br />

his judicial finding. It is a good exercise<br />

to think out how, if you were the Judge<br />

and not the advocate of your client’s<br />

cause, you would yourself frame a judgment<br />

in your client’s favour. <strong>The</strong>n model<br />

your speech on these lines. You will be<br />

surprised to find how often the grateful<br />

Judge, when he comes to give judgment,<br />

will adopt the very words of an argument<br />

so presented. You have furnished<br />

him with the materials of judgment; he<br />

façon convaincante et d’assertions péremptoires.<br />

» Or, à quelle fréquence un<br />

discours hésitant, prononcé en commettant<br />

toutes les fautes de style et de diction<br />

possibles, mais étant manifestement le<br />

résultat d’une mûre réflexion et d’une<br />

recherche approfondie, va-t-il commander<br />

le respect de la magistrature et fournir<br />

au juge le matériel qu’il veut? La tâche<br />

de l’avocat est d’aider la Cour – de l’aider<br />

à prendre une décision en sa faveur, et<br />

en faveur du client. J’ai toujours eu en<br />

tête l’image du juge, assis à son bureau,<br />

en train de rédiger son jugement après<br />

que toute l’agitation et l’excitation du<br />

débat soient passées. Les propositions<br />

extravagantes qui ont été avancées avec<br />

confiance à la barre ne l’aident pas. Il<br />

veut l’expression claire, le principe énoncé<br />

avec modération, l’ensemble de faits<br />

décrits sans passion qui peuvent trouver<br />

place dans sa décision judiciaire. Un<br />

bon exercice à faire est de réfléchir à la<br />

façon dont vous rédigeriez vous-même<br />

un jugement en faveur de votre client, si<br />

vous étiez juge plutôt que défenseur de<br />

la cause de votre client. Adaptez ensuite<br />

votre discours à partir de ces lignes.<br />

Vous serez surpris de constater à quelle<br />

fréquence le juge reconnaissant, au moment<br />

de rendre son jugement, adoptera<br />

les mots mêmes que ceux de l’argument<br />

ainsi présenté. Vous lui aurez fourni les<br />

will be predisposed to use them because<br />

they are at hand and the more so if your<br />

opponent has adopted a less helpful<br />

though possibly more showy method of<br />

advocacy.<br />

After all, the problems of pleading are<br />

all problems of psychology. One mind<br />

is working on another mind at every<br />

point and all the time. <strong>The</strong> judicial mind<br />

is subject to the laws of psychology like<br />

any other mind. When the Judge assumes<br />

the ermine he does not divest himself of<br />

humanity. He has sworn to do justice to<br />

all men without fear or favour, but the<br />

impartiality which is the noble hall-mark<br />

of our Bench does not imply that the<br />

Judge’s mind has become a mere machine<br />

to turn out decrees; the Judge’s mind<br />

remains a human instrument working<br />

as do other minds, though no doubt on<br />

specialised lines and often characterised<br />

by individual traits of personality, en-<br />

éléments essentiels du jugement; il sera<br />

prédisposé à les utiliser parce qu’ils seront<br />

à portée de main. Il le sera d’autant plus<br />

si votre adversaire a adopté une méthode<br />

de plaidoyer moins efficace, mais peutêtre<br />

plus flamboyante.<br />

Après tout, les problèmes de plaidoyer<br />

sont tous des problèmes liés à la psychologie.<br />

Un esprit agit sur un autre esprit<br />

sur tous les plans et en tout temps.<br />

L’esprit judiciaire est soumis aux lois<br />

de la psychologie comme tout autre esprit.<br />

Lorsque le juge revêt sa robe, il ne<br />

se désavoue pas de l’humanité. Il a juré<br />

de rendre justice à tous les hommes sans<br />

crainte ni faveur, mais l’impartialité qui<br />

est le noble sceau de sa barre n’implique<br />

pas que l’esprit du juge soit devenu une<br />

simple machine à rendre des décrets; l’esprit<br />

du juge reste un instrument humain<br />

qui fonctionne comme les autres esprits,<br />

bien que sans doute selon des logiques<br />

spécialisées et souvent caractérisées par<br />

des traits de personnalité individuels,<br />

engageants ou non. Il est donc bon que<br />

l’avocat connaisse non seulement son<br />

dossier, mais aussi son juge, en ce sens<br />

où il connaît le type d’esprit auquel il<br />

aura affaire.<br />

Mais je pensais à des questions plus<br />

vastes, pas à de simples préjugés ou<br />

prédispositions, lorsque j’ai affirmé que<br />

l’esprit judiciaire était soumis à des lois<br />

gaging or the reverse. It is well, therefore,<br />

for the advocate not only to know<br />

his case but to know his Judge in the<br />

sense of knowing the type of mind with<br />

which he has to deal.<br />

But I was thinking of larger matters,<br />

not of mere prejudices or predispositions,<br />

when I said that the judicial mind<br />

is subject to well-known psychological<br />

laws. One of the most conspicuous, and<br />

perhaps one of the most creditable, of<br />

the instincts of all intellectual minds is<br />

a tendency to assist anyone who confesses<br />

that he is struggling with a difficulty.<br />

I call it the instinct of rescue. <strong>The</strong>re are<br />

occasions when it is worth enlisting on<br />

your side. When you know that your<br />

case is confronted with a serious difficulty<br />

in the shape of an awkward passage<br />

in the evidence or an embarrassing<br />

precedent, do not shirk it. Read the awkward<br />

passage with all emphasis or quote<br />

psychologiques bien connues. L’un des<br />

instincts les plus manifestes, et peut-être<br />

l’un des plus louables, de tous les types<br />

d’esprits intellectuels est la tendance à<br />

vouloir aider quiconque avoue être aux<br />

prises avec une difficulté. J’appelle cela<br />

« l’instinct du sauveur ». En certaines occasions,<br />

il vaut la peine de le rallier à vos<br />

côtés. Lorsque vous savez que votre cas<br />

présente une grave difficulté, que ce soit<br />

sous forme d’un passage délicat dans la<br />

preuve, ou encore d’un précédent embarrassant,<br />

ne vous dérobez pas. Lisez<br />

le passage délicat avec toute la mise en<br />

relief nécessaire, ou citez le précédent<br />

sans broncher, et signalez la difficulté<br />

qu’il crée pour vous. Vous constaterez<br />

presque invariablement que le premier<br />

instinct du juge sera de vous aider en<br />

soulignant que la preuve vous cause<br />

moins de tort que vous ne le supposez,<br />

ou que le précédent peut être distingué<br />

lors de l’examen. La Cour est favorable à<br />

l’absence de toute dissimulation de difficulté<br />

et est encouragée par l’affirmation<br />

même de cette difficulté à s’atteler à la<br />

résoudre ou à l’atténuer. Un homme de<br />

bien luttant contre l’adversité exerce toujours<br />

un attrait particulier pour la justice<br />

et pour tous les autres esprits généreux!<br />

La solution qu’un juge lui-même trouve<br />

à un problème est évidemment beaucoup<br />

plus précieuse pour l’avocat que celle<br />

the authority without flinching, and point out the difficulty<br />

which it creates for you. You will almost invariably find that<br />

the first instinct of the Judge is to assist you by pointing out<br />

that the evidence is less damaging to you than you represented<br />

or that the precedent is on examination distinguishable. <strong>The</strong><br />

Court is favourably disposed by the absence of all concealment<br />

of the difficulty and is attracted by the very statement of<br />

the difficulty to address itself to the task of solving or alleviating<br />

it. A good man struggling with adversity always makes<br />

an appeal to the judicial as well as to every other generous<br />

mind! A solution which the Judge himself finds for a problem,<br />

too, is always much more valuable to the advocate than one<br />

which he himself offers to the Court, for the Court is naturally<br />

tenacious of its own discoveries and your opponent who<br />

ventures to challenge its solution finds his adversary, not in<br />

you, but in the Court – a much more serious matter! I should,<br />

however, add that the expedient of disarming your opponent<br />

by anticipating him is one to be used with discretion; it is not<br />

always possible to adopt it, nor is it always desirable to resort<br />

to it. Circumstances alter cases. Nor is it always well to dwell<br />

too emphatically on the bad points of your case – you may<br />

defeat your object by satisfying the Judge that they really<br />

are fatal to you. I only desire to indicate the utility of these<br />

methods of advocacy in suitable instances.<br />

One principle, however, is of universal application. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

can be no good advocacy that is not orderly in its presentation.<br />

It is a well-known fact that a skilful exposition of a case often<br />

largely supersedes the necessity for argument. I have indeed<br />

heard it said of an artist in advocacy that he never argued his<br />

cases; he merely stated them. So orderly and adroit was his<br />

arrangement of his statement that the conclusion which he<br />

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qu’il pourrait lui-même offrir à la Cour, car la Cour est naturellement<br />

attentive à ses propres découvertes. Votre opposant,<br />

s’il s’aventure à contester cette solution, trouvera son adversaire<br />

non pas en vous, mais en la Cour, ce qui lui sera nettement<br />

plus ardu. Malgré tout, j’ajouterai que de si vous avez la<br />

possibilité de désarmer votre adversaire en le devançant, vous<br />

devez le faire avec discernement. En effet, il n’est pas toujours<br />

possible d’utiliser cette méthode, comme il n’est pas toujours<br />

souhaitable de le faire. Les situations varient selon les circonstances.<br />

Il n’est pas non toujours avantageux de trop insister<br />

sur les aspects négatifs de votre cause : vous risquez d’aller à<br />

l’encontre de votre objectif en convainquant le juge qu’ils vous<br />

sont réellement fatals. Je tiens seulement à souligner l’utilité<br />

de ces méthodes de plaidoyer lorsqu’approprié, selon les circonstances.<br />

Un principe, cependant, doit être appliqué universellement :<br />

il ne peut y avoir de bon plaidoyer dont la présentation ne soit<br />

pas ordonnée. Il est bien connu que l’exposé habile d’un cas<br />

supplante souvent largement la rigueur de l’argumentation.<br />

J’ai effectivement entendu parler d’un maître-plaideur qui<br />

n’avait jamais eu à défendre ses arguments, il lui suffisait de<br />

les présenter. Son exposé était fait si adroitement et de façon<br />

si ordonnée que la conclusion qu’il souhaitait voir en être<br />

tirée paraissait une évidence. L’expression populaire « je<br />

n’argumente pas, j’explique » s’applique avec plus de subtilité<br />

que ce que croient généralement ceux qui l’emploient. À cet<br />

égard, je m’efforce de faire comprendre à tous ceux qui ont<br />

pour ambition de réussir en tant qu’avocat qu’ils ne doivent<br />

pas négliger le côté mécanique de la préparation. L’ordre et<br />

la disposition des documents au dossier ont beaucoup plus<br />

d’importance que ce qu’on croit généralement. Lorsque ce<br />

42 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | 43

wished to be drawn appeared inevitable. <strong>The</strong> colloquial retort<br />

– “I’m not arguing with you, I’m telling you” – has a subtler<br />

application than its users generally appreciate. In this connection<br />

I venture to impress upon all whose ambition it is to be<br />

successful advocates that they should not neglect the mechanical<br />

side of preparation. Orderliness in the arrangement of the<br />

documents in a case has far more importance than is generally<br />

realised. When what I may call the mechanical apparatus of a<br />

case works easily and well, the mind of the Judge is inevitably<br />

favourably impressed. He follows easily what is presented<br />

to him in orderly fashion and he is predisposed to accept as<br />

sound what is so well-ordered. Even the judicial mind is not<br />

immune from the attraction of the path of least resistance.<br />

As you will have observed from one or two passing quotations<br />

which I have already made, I have recently been looking<br />

into Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria or Institutes of Oratory.<br />

Both that great work and Cicero’s well-known dialogue<br />

De Oratore are amazing repositories of information and<br />

suggestion on the art of pleading.<br />

One topic with which they deal at great length is the use<br />

of humour in debate. I doubt if anyone has ever succeeded in<br />

defining humour, but we all know it when we hear it and it is<br />

certainly one of the most valuable parts of the pleader’s equipment.<br />

It has a curious and almost incalculable psychological<br />

effect – I had nearly said physiological.<br />

Now let me say a little about the form as apart from the substance<br />

of pleading. I believe that no advocate can be a great<br />

pleader who has not a sense of literary form, and whose mind<br />

is not stored with the treasures of our great literary inheritance<br />

upon which he may draw at will. <strong>The</strong> fortune of an argument<br />

depends much more than is commonly realised on the literary<br />

garb in which it is presented. A point made in attractive<br />

language sticks in the judicial memory. You must avoid the<br />

commonplace without falling into the bizarre. Originality is effective<br />

but eccentricity merely repels. <strong>The</strong>re is much in the way<br />

in which a speech is started; as the French with their infallible<br />

instinct put it, c’est le premier pas qui coûte. You want to arrest<br />

attention from the outset. Even the driest topic can be made<br />

interesting with a little imagination and ingenuity. To be interesting<br />

is almost as important as to be logical.<br />

Let me in passing just mention a habit of some advocates<br />

which is peculiarly exasperating to the Judge. Who has not<br />

heard counsel when faced with a difficulty endeavour to postpone<br />

the evil day by the time-worn phrase “I’m coming to<br />

that”? You know and the Judge knows that he never will, if<br />

he can help it. <strong>The</strong> better course is to deal at once with the<br />

point put to you. <strong>The</strong> question indicates the train of the Judge’s<br />

thought; he will not be diverted from it by your evasion. Have<br />

it out then and there, even although you may have to desert the<br />

progress of your argument for the moment. You can work back<br />

to your main theme with a little dialectic skill.<br />

Let there be balance and proportion in your argument. Some<br />

advocates give as much time and trouble to the exposition of<br />

their bad points as they do to their good points. <strong>The</strong>re is no<br />

worse fault. <strong>The</strong> Judge will soon be unable to see the wood for<br />

the trees.<br />

It would be attractive to dwell on the manners of the advocate,<br />

the importance of courtesy to one’s opponent, respect<br />

towards the Judge and fairness to all. But that is too large a<br />

region upon which to enter now.<br />

44 | SUMMER <strong>2023</strong> | THE ADVOCATES’ JOURNAL<br />

que j’appellerai l’appareil mécanique d’une affaire fonctionne<br />

facilement et convenablement, l’esprit du juge est inévitablement<br />

marqué favorablement. Il suit facilement le raisonnement<br />

qui lui est présenté de façon ordonnée et il est enclin à accepter<br />

comme juste quelque chose d’aussi bien structuré. Difficile de<br />

résister à l’attraction qu’exerce la voie de la moindre résistance,<br />

même pour un esprit juridique.<br />

Comme vous l’aurez probablement deviné à la lumière des<br />

citations que j’ai faites, j’ai récemment relu l’Institutio Oratoria<br />

(L’institution oratoire), de Quintilien. Cet ouvrage et le traité<br />

bien connu De Oratore de Cicéron sont d’étonnantes mines<br />

d’informations et de suggestions sur l’art de plaider. L’un des<br />

sujets qu’ils abordent longuement est l’utilisation de l’humour<br />

durant les joutes oratoires. Je doute que quelqu’un ait<br />

jamais réussi à définir l’humour, mais nous le reconnaissons<br />

tous lorsque nous l’entendons et c’est certainement l’un des<br />

éléments les plus précieux dont dispose le plaideur. Il a un effet<br />

psychologique curieux et pratiquement incalculable, que je<br />

qualifierais presque d’effet physiologique.<br />

Permettez-moi maintenant de dire quelques mots sur la<br />

forme, en dehors de la substance de la plaidoirie. Je crois<br />

qu’aucun avocat ne peut être un grand plaideur s’il n’a pas<br />

le sens de la forme littéraire et si son esprit ne recèle pas les<br />

trésors de notre grand héritage littéraire, dans lesquels il peut<br />

puiser à sa guise. La réussite d’une plaidoirie dépend beaucoup<br />

plus qu’on ne le pense généralement de la forme littéraire<br />

dans laquelle elle est présentée. Un argument présenté dans<br />

un langage attrayant reste dans la mémoire des juges. Il faut<br />

éviter le banal sans tomber dans l’insolite. L’originalité est efficace,<br />

mais l’excentricité rebute. La façon dont on débute une<br />

plaidoirie est importante; comme le disent les Français avec<br />

leur instinct infaillible, c’est le premier pas qui coûte. Vous<br />

devez capter l’attention dès le départ. Même le sujet le plus<br />

aride peut être rendu intéressant avec un peu d’imagination et<br />

d’ingéniosité. Être intéressant est presque aussi important que<br />

d’être logique.<br />

Permettez-moi également de faire mention, en passant, d’une<br />

habitude prise par certains avocats et qui est particulièrement<br />

exaspérante pour le juge. Qui n’a jamais entendu un avocat,<br />

lorsqu’il est confronté à une difficulté, s’efforcer de repousser<br />

le moment fatidique en utilisant l’expression usée « j’y arrive<br />

»? La meilleure avenue consiste à traiter immédiatement de<br />

la question qui vous est soumise. La question vous indique<br />

la ligne de pensée du juge; celle-ci ne sera pas détournée par<br />

votre dérobade. Répondez à la question sur le champ, même si<br />

vous devez renoncer à la progression de votre argumentation<br />

pour le moment. Vous pouvez facilement revenir à votre thème<br />

principal avec un peu d’habileté dialectique.<br />

Assurez-vous que votre plaidoirie soit équilibrée et proportionnelle.<br />

Certains défenseurs mettent autant de temps et de<br />

peine à exposer leurs arguments les plus faibles qu’ils le font<br />

pour leurs arguments les plus forts. Il n’y a pas pire erreur. Le<br />

juge sera bientôt incapable de distinguer la forêt qui se cache<br />

derrière l’arbre.<br />

Il serait intéressant de s’attarder sur les manières de<br />

l’avocat, sur l’importance de la courtoisie qu’il démontre<br />

envers son adversaire, de son respect envers le juge et de l’équité<br />

dont il s’assure de faire preuve envers tous. Mais il s’agit<br />

là d’un domaine trop vaste pour pouvoir s’y aventurer<br />

maintenant.<br />

Leading-edge Legal Technology<br />

With a Human Touch<br />


Patrick Healy |

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