A periodic feature in which Law Times asks Ontario lawyers hard-hitting questions about their personal lives and practices.
What's your greatest strength?
A: I am an empathic listener.
Q: What quality do you admire most in others?
A: People who genuinely care about the
welfare of others.
Q: What profession other than your own would
you like to attempt?
A: In Grade 4, my class was given a test to
explore what careers we might be interested in. I still have a very clear
recollection of answering the questions so that the test results would suggest
I pursue a career in law. It was no surprise afterwards when my teacher asked
me if I had ever thought about becoming a lawyer. I have wanted to be a lawyer
for as long as I can remember.
Q: If someone made a movie of your life, who
would you want to play you?
A: Dylan McDermott (Bobby Donnell on The
Q: Who's the smartest person you know?
A: Anthony (Tony) Williams, Crown Attorney
for Dufferin and Peel. He is also a true gentleman.
Q: What is the last book you read?
A: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the
Night-Time by Mark Haddon. A remarkable novel written from the perspective of
an autistic young man.
Q: What's the funniest thing that has
happened to you in your career?
A: In the first instance, the work I do is
not particularly happy work. And because of the nature of my position, I get a
lot of abuse hurled at me. However, it is rewarding to see that person again
after they are back on their medication. Sometimes they will remember what they
said to me and offer their apologies. On a lighter note, I did assist a
colourful fellow earlier this year who advised the Court he made his living as
a 'chicken catcher' and I try to put that out of my mind when I am at Swiss
Q: What was your first job?
A: A busboy in a family-style restaurant. My
first law-related job was as a summer student with the Legal Services Branch of
the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Q: What would constitute a "perfect" evening
A: A delicious roast beef dinner, followed by
slow dancing with my wife under the stars, with a view overlooking the city.
Q: What are five things you can't live
A: 1. The love and affection of my wife and
2. My Wednesday morning men's Bible
4. Nocturne with Arlene Meadows on
Classical 96.3 FM and the music of The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt.
5. High-speed Internet service.
Q: What is the greatest accomplishment of
your life so far? Is there anything you hope to do that is even better?
A: One of my dreams is to someday own a
Mustang convertible. Apart from that, in the course of a month, I can savour
several modest victories — not victories in an adversarial context, because the
work I do is very much a collaboration with the men and women of our Crown's
office and our courthouse mental health staff — but victories in the sense that
I helped someone get the treatment they needed or I was able to spare them the
burden of a criminal record. I want to continue serving in the courts in one
capacity or another for many years to come and I believe my best work is still
ahead of me.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge?
A: Public speaking. I was "accelerated" in
public school and, as a result, I was typically the youngest person in my class
and quite shy. Duty counsel is an excellent way for new lawyers to learn the
law, the art of advocacy, and grow in self-confidence. Many years later, I am
now at a point where I feel very much at home in the courtroom.
Q: What area of law do you practise?
A: Criminal duty counsel, mental health
Q: Is it everything you thought it would be?
A: I should no longer be surprised by this,
but far too many persons with mental illness continue to find themselves in
contact with the police and the courts.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges
facing persons with mental illness within the justice system?
A: Waiting lists for beds, for treatment, for
residential placements. However, as a result of the substantial and ongoing
investment by the provincial government in community mental health services in
January of this year, this is a particularly satisfying time to be working in
Q: Who do you admire most? In what why does
that person inspire you?
A: Atticus Finch, as portrayed by Gregory
Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird — the epitome of what a father and a lawyer
should be. From real life, I have been inspired by the leadership demonstrated
by several men and women with whom I have served on different non-profit