A new networking and professional development group for barristers recently called to the bar is set to start up next month, billing itself as an affordable option for young litigators.
In spite of its name, the Young Barristers’ Society will be open to lawyers who have been called to the bar for seven years or less, regardless of age.
The founder of the society, Sean Robichaud, a criminal defence lawyer at Pinkofskys who was called to the bar in 2005, told Law Times while he enjoyed going to events hosted by other societies, he found them very restrictive for young lawyers in terms of cost.
“It was very difficult to go to all of them, especially as a criminal lawyer,” he says.
He notes that there also wasn’t really a society aimed at getting young lawyers to get to know each other, like there was in law school and that many law school colleagues were losing touch.
“It’s more [about] networking with other lawyers and banding together and trying to overcome obstacles young lawyers face,” he says.
The society will be structured 50-50 as a social environment for young lawyers to network and meet as well as an opportunity for professional development. The group’s inaugural meeting is set for Feb. 7.
According to Robichaud, some of the distinctions that the new society will have when compared with other organizations, include the fact that it will not be taking any political views and will not intervene or take particular stances on justice issues.
Membership fees for the society have not yet been set, Robichaud says if they are introduced, he expects they will stay on a cost recovery basis.
“I want to make sure younger lawyers aren’t deterred from going because of the price,” he says.
The society will hold its meetings at the otherwise private University Club of Toronto and will be “an atmosphere of young lawyers all sharing information and tips that have helped them overcome problems and obstacles with being a young litigator.”
Robichaud want to meet on a more frequent basis than the Advocates Society or the Criminal Lawyers Association, as often as every two or three months, or even monthly.
This society is also not limited to criminal defence lawyers and is open to any newer litigator including Crowns, civil litigators, and mediators.
Robichaud says interest has been good so far, and he is expecting 50 to 100 young lawyers to attend the first meeting of the Young Barristers’ Society. While he adds that the majority will be Crowns or criminal defence lawyers, he notes that from the interest seen so far, about a quarter of those attending will likely be from outside the criminal law bar.
One of his objectives, he says, is to create an atmosphere where members can meet lawyers from other areas of practice.
The topic of the first meeting is “three things every young barrister should know,” but Robichaud adds that the speakers will be addressing many general topics, ranging from finances to client management and advocacy. He adds that the group may also have some events that are exclusively social in the future.
Already confirmed to speak at the inaugural meeting of the society next month are Brian Greenspan of Greenspan Humprey Lavine, David Bayliss, a senior partner with Pinkofskys, criminal lawyer Joseph Di Luca of Di Luca Barristers, Marcy Segal, barrister and solicitor and Superior Court Justice Arthur Gans.
To be eligible for membership, lawyers must be a member in good standing with the Law Society of Upper Canada andhave a practice primarily focused on litigation.
Robichaud is looking into obtaining CLE accreditation from the law society for programs.
Other groups aimed specifically at newer calls to the bar include the young lawyers section of the Canadian Bar Association, made up of practitioners under the age of 40 or who have been called to the bar for less than 10 years.
The group plays a leadership role in the governance of the CBA and also allows lawyers to exchange professional ideas and sponsors programs of interest to this group.
The young lawyers division of the Ontario Bar Association, with the same age and call to the bar criteria as the CBA group, notes that it has many seminars and events that are free for members and provides them with the opportunity to meet other young lawyers.
Get more information on the Young Barristers’ Association on its web site at www.youngbarristers.ca