In my career as a lawyer, I have practised primarily in the areas of administrative and criminal law and have taught law at the college and university levels. I have practised what is sometimes called “poverty law” in the community legal clinic system as well as criminal defence both in private practice and as duty counsel. Besides private retainer clients, I have represented clients on Legal Aid criminal law certificates, including Gladue panel certificates (for Indigenous defendants).
- Call to the Bar, Ontario, 2000
- Juris Doctor, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (1998)
- Completed all course work for Ph.D., in English literature. University of Toronto (1986)
- M.A. in English literature. McMaster University (1984)
- B.A. Honours, summa cum laude, in English literature. McMaster University (1982)
Criminal law wasn’t my first area of practice although it was one of my favourite areas of study in law school. I originally practised what is sometimes called “poverty law.” That is to say my clients were low income, often marginalized people. A stint of teaching law indirectly brought me into criminal practice, which I found to be highly meaningful work – work that I believe is as important to a civilized society as anything that one could do in poverty law – and so I stayed.
Criminal lawyers are sometimes criticized for representing “bad” people. The criticism misses the point. Our job is not only to argue for the good or the innocent. Our job is to push back against the immense power of the state to force the prosecution to prove its case against the individual and to conduct itself fairly – regardless of who our clients are. Without defence lawyers performing this function of challenging the state to “get it right,” we would not have rule of law and the good or the innocent would more frequently be punished. We have not been able to completely eradicate wrongful convictions and even a small number of such cases is too many. However, if defence lawyers were not able to do what we do, there would be many more cases of wrongly convicted, innocent individuals languishing in jail.
My approach to clients is to try and put myself in their shoes and try to tailor my approach to the case to the client’s personal needs and circumstances. I know how traumatizing and often bewildering going through the criminal justice system can be and I try to take care of my clients’ psychological as well as legal needs. I keep the lines of communication open so that clients can quickly and easily reach me to discuss any questions or concerns they may have at any time.
Drawing on my background in English literature and experience as an editor for some large publishing houses prior to becoming a lawyer, I am also the editor and contributing author of many Aitken Robertson publications.
In my time off I unwind by playing hockey and horseback riding. I live in the country with my husband and a large collection of animals, both large and small.
I think my strength as lawyer comes from the empathy I have for our clients. I try to keep the lines of communication open and to be accessible.