Making the leap from private practice
Toronto-area lawyer and academic Omar Ha-Redeye joined Durham Community Legal Clinic as its executive director.
According to Ha-Redeye, he was on parental leave from his private practice when the opportunity arose to join the clinic sector. His practice centred on the Toronto and Durham regions, and he teaches law part-time at Ryerson University.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, he worked in disaster management, and in his words, the justice system in Ontario is heading towards a situation that could only be described as “disastrous.”
“Joining the clinic sector, at a time when they are under immense pressure, is not a career move that many would say is opportunistic,” Ha-Redeye told Law Times in a statement. “The opportunity for me however is the ability to make an even greater impact on society.”
Funding cuts to various legal clinics across the province have led some clinics to cut staff, freeze salaries, and even change locations. According to Ha-Redeye, he does not believe any of that will be necessary at DCLC, but it will require strategic partnerships with other agencies, organizations, and institutions to continue its mission.
As part of his shift into the clinic sector, Ha-Redeye called on other legal professionals to lend more support towards access to justice. He noted than many large law firms have provided significant amounts of assistance, especially through Pro Bono Ontario. He also called for a reduced licencing fee at the law society, which will help small practice and new lawyers, and allow them to provide more services at a reduced rate or on a pro bono basis.
“Our legal aid clinics are strategically positioned across the province, and with specialty focus areas for specific populations,” Ha-Redeye said. “They are the natural base for extending and expanding access to justice activities, because they are already involved in the community, and with the people who need help the most.”