As a Crown attorney, I am responsible for the prosecution of offences under both the Criminal Code and provincial statutes. I provide advice to law enforcement agencies when requested.
When I sat down to write this article I was struck by the fact that two years ago, I would not have been able to do so. Back then I was in private practice and working as a litigator with a firm in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, practising both civil and family law. Don’t get me wrong, the firm was great. My colleagues in the office were supportive and helpful, as were the other lawyers in the valley. However, I was just not happy with my chosen practice area.
It was the summer of 2006 when I sat back and asked myself the question — if I could do anything with my law degree, what would it be? After ruling out “Queen of the World” as unattainable, I decided my dream job would be as a provincial Crown attorney. In retrospect, I am not sure why I thought so; I had no prosecution experience and minimal criminal defence experience. Nevertheless, it just felt right. So, I set about trying to achieve my dream.
I was thrilled when, in April 2007, I was offered a one-year term position in the Crown’s Dartmouth office. I was worried about leaving a permanent job for a term position, but I decided to jump in with both feet, hoping that I would like it and that the position would turn into something more permanent. I moved to Halifax and, in May 2007, began my new job.
I loved my job from the moment it began. Not every minute of every day, mind you, but for the most part, I wake up happy to go to work in the morning. My job really has everything. The work is fast-paced and interesting — there is never a dull moment when you are a Crown. I have the greatest colleagues, who have been very patient with my (numerous!) questions. The workload is heavy, but I love the adrenaline rush I get from being in court, which I get to do two to three times per week. I love that the criminal law is always changing, and I love the challenge of arguing points of law and having to think on my feet.
Mostly, though, I love my job because I feel like I am finally making a difference. Among other things, over the past year and a half, I have argued aggravated assault, child abuse, and impaired driving cases. I have handled sexual assault, elder abuse, and way too many domestic violence cases. As a Crown, my responsibility is to all of the people of Nova Scotia, and that does not just mean the general public and the victims, but accused persons as well. I have exercised my prosecutorial discretion not only to prosecute alleged offenders but also not to prosecute them where the situation warrants.
In April 2008, right before my one-year term expired, I was offered a permanent position as a Crown in the Dartmouth office and I could not have been happier. I know that this work is not for everyone, but to me, it really is my dream job.