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In person: Michèle Moreau

We put five questions to the 2019 winner of the Douglas Miller award.

Michèle Moreau, the 2019 winner of the Douglas Miller award

Michèle Moreau is the director of Protection and Defense of Rights at the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse and the former president of CBA-Québec. She is the 2019 winner of the Douglas Miller award, which recognizes a Canadian Bar Association member who demonstrates outstanding dedication and team spirit in his or her ongoing involvement with the CBA.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you do?

I would be a journalist or media presenter. No question. My medium of choice is radio, but I would have enjoyed being a foreign correspondent for a television network, too.

What are three books that have had an impact on you, and why?

Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed: The book was written in 1919 and tells the story of the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917 through the eyes of the author, a journalist who is the only American buried in the Kremlin in Moscow. I read it in 1981, a few months before I saw the movie Reds, which is based on the life of John Reed and stars Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton. It blew me away. That was when I started dreaming of becoming a journalist and foreign correspondent. And I haven’t given up on my dream quite yet.

Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation by Al Etmanski: In my professional life, I’ve had the chance to build from the ground up, to bring into the world two legal organizations dedicated to improving access to justice. This book helped me go all in on promoting and defending social innovation. The case studies presented in this book made me believe that effecting change for the public good is possible.

Mémoires d'Hadrien [Memoirs of Hadrian] by Marguerite Yourcenar: This remarkable work, just one of this gifted author’s many titles, is a novel, a history book and a poetry book rolled into one. I’ve read it multiple times, at different times in my life, and I enjoy it just as much every time. I’m actually about to read it again because my book club chose it as our selection for June.

What talent would you like to pick up?

I’ve always longed to learn a musical instrument. So far, I haven’t had the time, but you never know...

What advice would you give your younger self?

Never stop dreaming and never give up on your dreams. Life is so wonderful; sometimes it will lead us down a road less travelled that ends up leading us exactly where we wanted to go, without knowing how we got there.

If you could change one aspect of the practice of law, what would it be?

The definition of “the practice of law” has changed drastically since the beginning of my career. For someone like me who has led an alternative career practising law differently for 10 years now, I’m grateful that I was able to diversify my professional experience without drifting too far away from law. Today, as a lawyer/manager, I’d like to completely dismantle the justice system as we know it and start building an accessible and understandable new model entirely conceived by and for citizens.