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In person: Orlando Da Silva

A former president of the Ontario Bar Association, Orlando Da Silva became a mental health advocate after opening up about his personal struggle with depression. He is counsel with the Crown Law Office – Civil, Ministry of the Attorney-General, Ontario.

Portrait of former president of the Ontario Bar Association, Orlando Da Silva

National Magazine: Who has had the biggest influence on you and why?

Orlando Da Silva: My father was an angry working class man who suffered no fools and demanded excellence from his children. He was a hard man to please. He left home when I was 10 and died when I was 19 and he was only 51. Yet, in his short life, he taught me about perseverance and persistence. I have used both to challenge my doubts and fears, which, in turn, allowed me to engage the world in rewarding and often surprising ways. So in the end, my father taught me gratitude for having, and continuing to live, an interesting life.

N: What would you do if you could take a year off?

ODS: I would love to move to Paris and study French at the Sorbonne. More practically, I would write a book about living a meaningful, productive, and valuable life, despite suffering from major depression. The book would share the many inspirational stories I have heard from lawyers across the country. I would try my utmost to give light and hope to those afflicted by mood disorders.

N: Name three books that influenced you and tell us why.

ODS: To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee….because it made me want to be Atticus Finch, like virtually every other litigator.

The Holcroft Covenant, by Robert Ludlum….because it introduced me, at 15, to page-turning spy thrillers, and an endlessly enjoyable way to relax.

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens…because it taught me the tangible, visual, and poetic power of a well-crafted sentence.

N: What did you learn from a big mistake?

ODS: You are not sufficiently prepared unless you have a persuasive answer to your opponent’s strongest argument.

N: What advice would you give to your younger self?

ODS: You are not an imposter. You are not a fraud. You deserve to be here. You will do just fine. So relax and try to enjoy yourself.

N: If you could change one thing about the practice of law what would it be?

ODS: I would dispense with strategic motions and other steps, which are often intended to deplete an opponent’s resources, and compel litigants to use courts to address the merits of their dispute, and nothing more.