Tag: advocacy

25 Oct

Review of the Young Advocates’ Fireside Chat on Advocacy with Justice Breese Davies

Arielle Di Iulio General Interest, Litigation, Uncategorized Tags: , , 0 Comments

On October 21, 2021, I attended The Advocates’ Society’s “Young Advocates’ Fireside Chats on Advocacy” featuring The Honourable Justice Breese Davies of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Before her appointment to the bench in August 2018, Justice Davies practised criminal, constitutional and administrative law at both the trial and appellate levels. At the fireside chat, Justice Davies discussed her unique experiences and background, what she wished she knew earlier in her career, and the importance of creating a sustainable life. Below are just a few of the invaluable practice tips and pieces of advice that Justice Davies had to offer young litigators.

  1. Be authentic. Do not try to fit the mold of what you believe the “best” advocate ought to look and sound like. Instead, be true to yourself and play to your strengths. The most important thing is to be confident and effective in what you have set out to do. Prepare and present yourself in a way that works best for you.
  2. Think like a judge. It is often said that law school teaches people to “think like a lawyer”. However, what litigators should be striving to do is to think like a judge. When a case goes to trial, the lawyer will likely know the most about that case that they will ever know, whereas the judge will only just be starting to engage with the case. When you’re able to meet the judge where they’re at, you will become a more effective advocate.
  3. Practice issue-based advocacy. Written and oral advocacy should focus on the issues to be determined by the judge. Litigators should tell the judge what the hard issues are going to be and explain why the judge should decide those issues in their favour. You should also think about what exactly the judge will be producing – such as an endorsement or written judgement – so that you can give the judge something to help them with that process.
  4. Use your time wisely. For most lawyers at the beginning of their career, it is difficult to say no to work or opportunities for professional development. However, to avoid over-extending yourself, it is important to be selective and intentional with respect to your commitments. When deciding what activities or engagements to devote your limited time to, you should consider where you will be able to contribute the most.
  5. Find an outlet. Being a lawyer can be tough on one’s mental health. Early on in your practice, you should get in the habit of making time for things that you love (e.g. walk your dog, cook, run). When you do things that help you decompress and recharge, you will have more energy and be more productive when you get back to work. This is key to building a sustainable and enjoyable practice.

Thanks for reading!

Arielle Di Iulio

28 Nov

Supreme Court Advocacy

David M Smith Continuing Legal Education, Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, General Interest, Litigation, Wills Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

I was able to attend a recent CPD program by the Advocate’s Society titled “Supreme Court of Canada Advocacy.”

A powerful keynote address was presented by the Honourable Madam Justice Suzanne Côté of the Supreme Court of Canada. Justice Côté’s remarks included an inside look at what lies behind the Supreme Court of Canada’s “big mahogany doors,” as she so eloquently phrased it. The Honourable Marshall Rothstein, Q.C., then spoke about the unwritten rules to getting leave to appeal.

Debate was had over the need for a script. Most panelists supported coming prepared with a script but cautioned against being married to it. When it comes to answering questions, advocates should see this as an opportunity to get off their script and engage in a dialogue with the bench. As Justice Côté points out, an oral argument is not supposed to be a monolog.

After discussion on the power of oral advocacy, the discussion shifted to the importance of the written argument. Although the factum is a critical component of any appeal, parties are under no obligation to reach the maximum page length. It was suggested that some of the most successful arguments can be made in 25 pages or less.

In addition to the factum, the Condensed Book can be a vital tool for advocates appearing before the Supreme Court. Under the Supreme Court rules, the Condensed Book may contain a two page outline of the oral argument. Preparing the this two page outlines forces advocates to truly narrow down their key points.

The panelists also spoke about the important role interveners can have in a case. Within the confines of a 10 page factum, and 5 minutes of oral argument, an intervenor can illustrate why a matter is of public interest, and provide supplemental answers to questions posed to the parties by the Justices. Interveners can play a critical role, and should not be overlooked.

Finally, the panel highlighted the power of a moot. Practice moots are one of the most valuable tools an advocate can use to prepare their case. The Supreme Court Advocacy Institute offers moot sessions where participants have the opportunity to moot their case before a panel of experienced litigators and retired justices.

Thanks for reading,

David Morgan Smith


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