It’s December 31, a good day to take stock of everything that has happened in my professional life this last year. Looking back, I can say that 2017 was a year of achievements and challenges for me. Some of the highlights:
- Supreme Court adventure. – In November, I made my first (and hopefully not the last) trip to the Supreme Court of Canada. While there, we debated the definition of “habitual residence” as used in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the weight to be given to children’s views and preferences. This, undoubtedly, was one of the highlights of my year and my career. I learned that good advocacy at that level is truly about good writing, detailed preparation, and rigour in thought and argument. I believe our team met those challenges and believe that our arguments will be seriously considered in the court’s final decision.
- The birth of the Ontario Association of Child Protection Lawyers – Toronto chapter. – In late November, I became the interim chair of the the Toronto Chapter of the OACPL. This is an organization, newly formed, to support and protect the interests of lawyers representing parents in child welfare proceedings. During my time practicing in this field, it has become extremely clear to me that parents lawyers need to come together as a bar and advocate for ourselves and our clients. A strong parents bar will help ensure justice in this field. If anything, the Motherisk scandal taught us that parents lawyers are an integral part of this system. Our voices need to be heard and our work should be valued.
- I welcomed a new associate. – In July 2017, Alix Nenniger joined my firm. Alix has been a great addition to our team and has really helped in so many ways since joining us. Alix’s training as a social worker and lawyer makes her particularly well-suited to our work, which often requires a patient and supportive presence as well as legal excellence.
- More coaching and support. – I revamped the way I offer litigation coaching and support in response to the increased need for alternatives to “full-service” lawyering. This year, in addition to representing clients from the beginning to the end of cases, I have assisted clients on limited basis with document preparation, “background” legal advice, and appearances at court. Thus far, the response by clients have been positive, and I will be continuing this work in 2018.
I hope everyone reading this blog has had a good 2017 and I wish you all the best for 2018!