“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Bachelor of Arts, Dalhousie University, 1975
Bachelor of Music Education, Dalhousie University, 1976
Bachelor of Laws, Dalhousie University, 1986
Call to the Bar, Nova Scotia, 1987
Call to the Law Society of Upper Canada, 1997
Mary-Clare was born and raised in the coal-mining town of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and was inspired by her father’s activism to become a lawyer. Before her admission into law school, she was also able to pursue a classical music career in piano and choral conducting.
After a short time in private practice in Cape Breton, Mary-Clare came to Ontario where she was admitted to the Bar and worked in private practice. It was then that she acted as per diem duty counsel at the Oshawa courthouse which led to a career with Legal Aid Ontario, most of that time as Supervisor. The fast pace as well as the high volume was exciting and it was there that Mary-Clare saw clearly the importance of a client being able to make bail. This is also what spurred her to approach the Toronto Bail Program to establish a satellite office in Durham Region. The Toronto Bail Program is an agency that helps to supervise an accused who does not have anyone to sign for his or her bail. Not being released on bail can sometimes lead to an accused pleading guilty where they may have a defence or maybe didn’t even commit.
As Supervisory Duty Counsel, Mary-Clare assisted with bail hearings almost every day during the week and on weekends for clients in Durham as well as those from Peterborough, Lindsay, and Cobourg. This work requires fast assessment of a client’s situation and background as well as the legal issues: what is the basis of the charges? How strong is the evidence? Does the client have a criminal record and, if so, how does it affect the likelihood of bail? Mary-Clare’s experience enables her to connect with the client quickly in order to get the information necessary to run a bail hearing. Bail court also requires an efficient assessment of the sureties: are they credible? Are they suitable? Do they have assets that will be accepted by the court? Is there a reasonable plan that can be put together?
There is a saying that “timing is everything” and that is no truer than in bail court. In the 15 years that Mary-Clare was supervisory duty counsel, she amassed a wealth of experience in bail court that allows her to quickly evaluate the case against the client – strengths and weaknesses – and put forward a plan that will best respond.
Since joining Aitken Robertson, Mary-Clare continues to be committed to the client’s ability to gain pre-trial release and is delighted to be part of the Aitken Robertson team.
For hobbies, Mary-Clare enjoys playing the piano and solving sudoku puzzles.