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The pros & cons of . . .

|Written By Heather Gardiner

Practising in Regina, elder law, in southern Ontario, arbitration [strong][em]

Practising in Regina[/em][/strong]

Lindsay Wacholtz, McDougall Gauley LLP

PROS:

• As a result of the positive economic changes in Saskatchewan, our lawyers are engaged in dynamic and challenging areas of law, representing international, national, and local clients. Due to the growth in the economy, career development opportunities are endless.

• The bar in Regina is smaller compared to larger centres, and as a result we enjoy a high level of collegiality.

• In terms of lifestyle, Regina is a wonderful place to work and raise a family. There are no long commutes to and from work, even if you decide to live in the many bedroom communities surrounding Regina. Among its attributes, Regina has a beautifully revitalized downtown core, with easy access to parks and recreational activities.

CONS:

• Being a smaller centre there are some growing pains, such as limited flight options with few direct flights.

• If you don’t enjoy skating, skiing, or tobogganing, the winter can seem long.

Carrie Ho, Kanuka Thuringer LLP

PROS:

• An exciting time to be living and practising in Regina given the strong economy and influx of people and businesses.

• Being the capital city of Saskatchewan, Regina has abundant opportunities for work in both the public and private sectors.

• Maintaining work-life balance is the norm, rather than the exception.

• Being a smaller centre, billable “targets” are comparatively lower but there is enough work to be done that one can put more time in at the office and obtain commensurate compensation.

• The size and nature of the bar allows you to practise with and learn from well-established practitioners but also allows you to make a name for yourself and cultivate your reputation very early in your career.

• The recent influx of people and businesses has brought with it more ideas and initiatives for community groups, cultural events, and better entertainment for all ages, which has had a positive influence on the already high quality of life and provides new opportunities for people to get involved in the community.

CONS:

• Winters can be long and cold but you are usually rewarded with beautiful, long summer days.

• With the strong economy and influx of people into the city, the housing market is tight and can be difficult to enter into if you are a first-time homeowner.

• Average compensation levels are likely lower than larger centres but the trade-off is the flexibility to pursue endeavours outside of the office.

• You have to be realistic about the work and scale of transactions you will be involved in given the geographic location of Regina and the fact that many head offices of large corporations are not in Saskatchewan.

Practising elder law

Heather Campbell, Vantage Point Law, Victoria

PROS:

• Listening to and learning about the life stories of older adults, and understanding how their experiences intertwine with and impact their current situation.

• Creative solutions. Often, victims of elder abuse do not want to pursue litigation because the perpetrator is a loved one. Lawyers are tasked with finding solutions that stop the abuse, respect the underlying family dynamics, meet the specific needs of the client, and achieve justice.

• Collaborating with other sectors. Solutions often involve the client’s doctor, bank manager, trusted family members, and senior-serving organizations.

• Multiple areas of law. The law touches older adults in many ways — they don’t just make wills. They get divorced, get married, start businesses, get wrongfully dismissed, buy property, sell property, get arrested, experience discrimination, and get sued. Lawyers in all areas of law can make their practices more senior-friendly.

• With the aging population, there is a sustained and growing demand for elder law lawyers.

CONS:

• It can be difficult to keep costs affordable in situations that require additional services, such as expensive capacity assessments, travel to residential care homes or hospitals outside of major city centres, or multilingual third-party (i.e. non-family member) interpreters.

• Often it is clients with diminished or fluctuating capacity that need help. This poses an ethical web of issues that requires constant reassessment.

• Always being skeptical of whether the adult child presenting as well-meaning is actually the perpetrator of abuse.

• It is disheartening to see how some adult children treat their aging parents. The greed, sense of entitlement, and untrustworthiness is reprehensible.

Farha Salim, Field LLP, Calgary

PROS:

• It is interesting and rewarding assisting mature clients plan for the enjoyment and succession of their assets in health and in the event of a potential disability.

• Planning helps bring certainty, security, and comfort not only to your client but also to their family.

• It is gratifying to be a trusted adviser for clients whom you often come to know on a very personal level.

• Matters of health, mental and physical capacity, and family relationships often underlie the legal aspects of working for mature clients, which can add complexity and interest to the practice, calling upon a practitioner’s broader life skills.

CONS:

• It can be disheartening to deal with situations where vulnerable elderly persons are being victimized, particularly when other family members are involved.

• Even in non-contentious situations, working with elderly clients can be emotionally charged, especially when your client is gravely ill.

Practising in southwestern Ontario

Jacqueline Horvat, Sutts Strosberg LLP, Windsor

PROS:

• Greater opportunities for students and junior lawyers to get involved with clients and large files earlier in their careers.

• If you want to be a litigator, practising in a smaller centre will ensure you see the inside of a courtroom right out of the gate and allow yourself greater opportunity to hone your advocacy skills earlier in your career.

• The region has the same court system applying the identical laws as apply elsewhere in the province, and we have the same privileges as all other practitioners to utilize the courts in Toronto when it is in the interests of our clients to do so.

• Real estate prices in the extreme southwest offer a comfortable standard of living.

• It’s generally warmer and sunnier in Windsor than the rest of Ontario, with an average of about only one snowfall a year.

• While Windsor is a relatively small city with a comfortable pace of life, just across the river Detroit has all that a big city has to offer.

• The opportunity to land a contract for federal public prosecutors; these tend to be geographically limited to where there are no federal Crown regional offices, or where it is otherwise not cost-effective for staff counsel to handle cases.

CONS:

• If you want to be in a big firm environment, there aren’t many options in the region.

• You will not survive the summer without an air conditioner and sunscreen!

• The income level is generally lower than in Toronto.

• Business client development is challenging if you’re representing large corporations.

Glenn Matthews, Siskinds LLP, London

PROS:

• London offers its residents a small-town feel with big-city amenities. We are fortunate to have a world-class arena, which is home to our London Knights OHL hockey team and anchors a rich cultural and entertainment district. The arena also attracts top-tier performing artists and other events normally reserved for larger centres.

• Lawyers here enjoy a collegial bar and the city is small enough that you can truly get to know one another. Civility is likely aided by the fact that you can expect to bump into your colleagues at the mall or a restaurant.

• The quality of life in London is superb. Lower billable hour targets, smaller firms, and an easy commute tend to contribute to a decent work-life balance.

• Lower overhead results in lower fees and a competitive advantage in certain practice areas versus our colleagues in Toronto.

• We are leaders in health care and education, which is not only a plus for residents of the city, but gives lawyers a variety of practice areas to specialize in.

CONS:

• As a business immigration lawyer with an international corporate client base, it is sometimes difficult to compete for business against lawyers based in major cities such as Toronto or Vancouver.

• There are limited opportunities to practise in certain commercial areas such as securities or high-level M&A work.

• Winter can be a challenge as London is in the snow belt!

Practising arbitration

Stéphanie Bachand, Norton Rose Canada LLP, Montréal

POUR:

• Chaque dossier d’arbitrage présente de nouveaux défis et des particularités qui lui sont propres, notamment au niveau du choix des règles de procédure, du droit applicable et du lieu de l’arbitrage. Il faut pouvoir s’adapter et assimiler rapidement de nouveaux principes juridiques et être créatif afin de conseiller la meilleure stratégie à nos clients.

• En arbitrage international, les dossiers sont souvent de grande envergure et offrent l’opportunité de travailler avec des avocats et arbitres fort qualifiés provenant de différents pays, cultures et traditions juridiques, ce qui est particulièrement stimulant et enrichissant.

• La résolution des dossiers est généralement plus rapide en arbitrage, ce qui procure un sentiment d’accomplissement et de satisfaction à la fois pour les clients et pour les avocats qui les représentent, alors que les dossiers de litige peuvent s’étirer sur de nombreuses années, ce qui peut être lourd et pénible.

• Il règne une très belle collégialité au sein de la communauté de praticiens en arbitrage.

• La pratique en arbitrage international offre également des opportunités de voyage très intéressantes!

CONTRE:

• Le travail pour un arbitre ou un tribunal arbitral ne permet pas de développer et d’entretenir des relations avec les clients.

• Les auditions d’arbitrage comportent moins de plaidoirie orale et aucun interrogatoire en chef, puisque l’essentiel de l’argumentation se fait par écrit et les témoignages, par déclarations testimoniales ou affidavits.

• Une fois que l’arbitrage a débuté, les délais peuvent être serrés et la charge de travail, considérable. Il faut pouvoir travailler efficacement sous pression.

Gus Richardson, AD+REM Alternative Dispute Resolution Services Inc., Halifax

PROS:

• Private and confidential. No one but the parties know what happened or what was decided. Families and business people can protect their privacy.

• Quick. Start to finish in months, not years.

• Can choose the arbitrator. Parties do not have to spend time and incur cost educating the decision-maker.

• Flexible. Parties design the procedure to match their case, not the other way around.

• Hearings can take place anywhere the parties agree — in a boardroom, at a hotel, even online.

• No time-consuming, expensive oral discovery unless the parties agree to it. Parties focus on documents they will rely upon at the hearing.

• Increased access to justice for litigants. Arbitration is much faster and less expensive than court, which means that middle-class individuals or small or mid-sized (or even large) businesses can have their disputes determined quickly without incurring huge costs in time and money.

• Lawyers’ time is focused on advocating their client’s case in a hearing, rather than fighting over court rules of disclosure and discovery.

• Increased client-lawyer satisfaction with the process. Lawyer’s focus is on advocacy at the hearing, and the client sees their lawyer doing what clients expect lawyers to do — argue their case before a decision-maker.

CONS:

• Have to pay the arbitrator (cost usually split between the parties).

• Generally no right of appeal, unless parties agree beforehand.

• No oral discovery unless parties agree to it.


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