Anica Visic’s previous articling principals called her rude and defensive. But during a recent testimony at her licensing hearing, the lawyer currently employing Visic painted a different picture of a young woman dubbed a vexatious litigant for taking her school, professors, and former employers to court.
Saul Glober told a Law Society of Upper Canada good character hearing panel on Dec. 20 that Visic is professional and hardworking.
“I found her quite competent, her research skills were good, her discipline was good, her attention to detail was good,” said Glober, who applauded Visic for continuing to attend law school despite her disability and failing her first year.
Glober’s point of view was a new one of Visic, whose troubles began when she failed her first year of law school and wanted the grades expunged from her academic record. She attributes the grades to a physical disability her school didn’t accommodate.
Visic experiences myofascial pain, which involves shoulder, arm, neck, and upper-body muscle spasms that restrict her ability to sit and write for extended periods of time.
But when she discovered in 2005 that her grades showed up on her transcript, she filed a human rights complaint against the University of Windsor and several of her professors. She claimed the university discriminated against her on the basis of disability by displaying her law school marks for 1999-2000, thereby requiring her to disclose a past disability. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal dismissed her case.
But the lawsuit was only the first in a string of unsuccessful human rights motions Visic would launch against employers who requested her full transcript, or fired her.
Visic believed requesting her full transcript discriminated against her for her disability, but her former employers said an incomplete academic record was only part of their problem with her.
When taken to court, Visic’s former employers said they let her go her mainly because of her relationship with clients and other staff.
Yan David Payne of Payne Law, another articling principal of Visic’s, once called the police on Visic after she “embarked upon a yelling and ranting rampage for between 30 and 40 minutes,” according to a submission by Lisa Freeman, the law society’s counsel.
Visic was yelling, ripping papers, and slamming doors when Payne asked her to communicate with other staff professionally, wrote Freeman.
But at Visic’s good character hearing, Glober told the panel, chaired by Heather J. Ross, that those descriptions don’t fit his employee of three years.
“If anything, she didn’t give up,” he said. “She did what she had to do, she went back [to school]. I’ve been impressed by her tenacity and determination. I think a lot of people would have thrown in the towel.”
Glober told the panel Visic might have made mistakes in the past, but they were all honest mistakes by a young student who truly believed she was wronged.
In omitting her full academic record, Visic was simply trying to protect her future, he said. She may have been wrong, he added, but she didn’t know it.
“I don’t in any way condone dishonesty. I don’t believe in my heart [Visic] intentionally meant to deceive or be dishonest. I think she was doing what she needed in order to get job,” he said, adding that for whatever mistakes she has made, his employee “has paid her dues.”
“Six-and-a-half years . . . murderers get a parole after six-and-a-half years,” he said. “It would be good if we could take a big wash cloth and wipe everything away and let her get on with her life.”
When he hired Visic in 2009, Glober said he did not ask for her transcript, nor was he aware of her label as a vexatious litigator.
When Freeman asked him if he thought it was dishonest on Visic’s part not to tell him about her legal battles, Glober said he didn’t mind not knowing.
“It didn’t affect me or my clients,” he said, describing both Visic and himself as people who keep to themselves.
If the law society licenses Visic, Glober said he would continue to employ her as a lawyer.
Visic is awaiting the law society’s decision.
See also: Law graduate loses human rights case against articling principal