The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Beverley Spencer


The great disruption

By Beverley Spencer September 9, 2014 9 September 2014

It might not seem like a great time to be a law student, especially if you’re buried in debt and worried about an uncertain job market, but, believe me, it is.

Take some time to read this this issue and you’ll understand why.

Today’s law students stand at the cusp of changes that are transforming how legal services are delivered and how success is measured in the practice of law. Those changes are also shaking up traditional ideas about legal education.

There was a time when law schools focused almost exclusively on black letter law; unless students participated in student legal aid clinics or snagged a summer job at a firm, they didn't get any exposure to actual practice until bar ads or articles.

There were also pretty clear expectations if you went to work for a law firm. The billable hour model meant you metered out your time in six-minute increments and stressed over meeting aggressive billing targets. Making partner was the Holy Grail and the key to life-long tenure and prosperity.

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A day at the circus

By Beverley Spencer August 15, 2014 15 August 2014

What do lawyers have in common with circus performers -- besides a flair for the dramatic?

As the creative team behind the magic of Cirque du Soleil knows, creativity is an essential ingredient in top performances. But unless you’re an aerial acrobat, chances are it’s been awhile since you’ve flexed those creative muscles.

Enter Lyn Heward, the former creative director of Cirque, who believes everyone -- including lawyers -- can make creativity part of everyday life and use it to sculpt their vision of the future.

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CBA Council: Criminal justice resolutions

By Beverley Spencer August 14, 2014 14 August 2014

CBA Council passed two resolutions Thursday aimed at underlining the importance of first principles in the criminal justice system.

Put forward by the CBA Criminal Justice Section, the resolutions call on the federal government to “publicly recognize and reprioritize” longstanding sentencing principles of rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders and urges Ottawa to ensure that criminal justice legislation doesn’t interfere with prosecutorial independence.

A third resolution dealing with wrongful convictions seeks a Criminal Code amendment to provide a reasonable standard for access to exhibits and other disclosure during post-conviction reviews.

Eric Gottardi, speaking on behalf of the section, said it is concerned that recent legislation related to mandatory minimum sentencing, restrictions on graduated release and abolition of early release, among others, has de-emphasized sentencing principles of rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.

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Broken promises

By Beverley Spencer June 27, 2014 27 June 2014

Broken promises

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All creatures great and small

By Beverley Spencer June 26, 2014 26 June 2014

When I was growing up, we shared our home with a series of dogs, cats, fish, turtles and newts. With the exception of the aquarium dwellers, all of them were bona fide family members. Some were strays who took up residence with us; others came from shelters. But we loved them all and mourned the passing of each furry friend.

Today, my husband and I have a handsome Golden Retriever named Hudson. He too is a bona fide family member who enjoys treats, toys and going to the dog park to play with his peeps. Spoiled? Maybe a little. But his gentle disposition and unflagging devotion bring us so much joy that it’s hard to imagine life without him.

As a pet lover, I am incensed by cruelty to animals. So were the thousands of Ottawa residents who recently signed a petition urging a judge to jail the man who beat a dog almost to death then tossed her in a dumpster to die. (His sentencing is pending at this writing. The Crown is seeking four years.) But do we care as much about how the animals we eat are treated? What about animals used for transportation or entertainment? Are we willing to avert our eyes from the suffering of creatures who don’t share our lives or touch our hearts?

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