“Me and Sebastian will be straight people, but I still will not go to that school – because you and Mama cannot go there.” CJ, my five-year-old, had been overhearing “TWU” while my wife and I chatted at home. She asked, so one day I tried to give her a few simple sentences about it. CJ’s best friend is Sebastian, and she plans to marry him. CJ tells me that Bridget, my 3-year-old, will be marrying Kailey, another girl at the daycare. Bridget agrees. Two observations stand out for me here. First, the idea of marriage is a big deal, even to kids (religious or not). Second, these children have not known a world where they could not marry who they love, be it a boy or a girl. This is a lot of change for one generation. It is amazing.
These realities comfort me as I contemplate the TWU School of Law debate. I do not believe that the law degree should be accredited until such time as the Community Covenant that requires students to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” is removed. I am confident that legal arguments opposed to the Covenant will be accepted. What this leaves me thinking about is the backdrop upon which they will be advanced.
We all bring our individual experiences and views to the table when we practise law. I love this diversity in our profession, and constantly advocate improving it. We should draw on that diversity to fuel and inform our discussions about the future of our profession. In doing so, it would be best if we stopped getting caught up on where it is that we practise.
Having spent time in private practice before joining a government legal services department, I always found the blanket comparisons between the two to be uncomfortable. When people ask me my job, I tell them that I am a lawyer. Unless relevant to the conversation, I do not say whether I am government lawyer, a private practice lawyer, an in-house lawyer, or a non-practicing lawyer. These categories, with the walls we have further built within them, too often lead to discussions about our presumed differences as opposed to understanding about our shared realities.
Mentoring has a long tradition in our profession: It was once the very basis of legal education, and to this day the law has a rich tradition of informal mentoring relationships.
More recently, we have seen organized mentorship programs take root, and that is to be applauded. Still, we need to take a step back and leave the idea of a formal “mentor” aside while we consider the importance of lending a hand – mentoring, if you will – our colleagues.
After all to mentor is to advise or train. It is also to assist.
As a child protection lawyer, I have been uncomfortably following media coverage about the child protection proceedings involving the Lev Tahor community. Child protection court proceedings are difficult – for parents, social workers, lawyers, and most importantly, often for the children whose care is at the centre of them. With minimal information, media is presenting this case as a battle between religious freedom and society’s duty to protect children from harm. However, I do not see a lot of real discussion of these issues. I see exploitative stories and I wonder where the line if going to be drawn between the open court principle and the privacy and best interests of the children involved.