I hate January and ironing

I hate January because it’s cold, really cold.

AND not the “nice” cold where you can dress for it and do fun outdoors stuff. Here, it’s the wet, windy cold. There is no Canada Goose coat for sideways ice chunks (freezing rain just doesn’t accurately describe it).

AND there is another whole year before Christmas comes again (still haven’t had the heart to take down the tree, waiting on my mother to take pity on me and come help).

AND, most of all, I hate the pressure of trying to figure out a way to “be better” than last year. After all, I think I did really well last year. I worked really hard, won a few cases, spent lots of quality time with the kids, got elected to a board position with the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, volunteered, took an executive position in the CBA’s national administrative law section, and started this fantastic column.

Can’t I have a year off to bask in the greatness of my 2014 accomplishments? Can I have a “get out of jail free” card for 2015? Or, at least, just stay on “free parking” for the year? Even with this column, I’m not sure I can outdo my last piece. I’ve even caught a few nicknaming me Jerry Maguire — if you have not read it yet, stop reading this one and go read, “You’ve lost that successful feelin’.”

I know, I know — you’re great too. You did some wonderful, amazing things last year.

AND if everyone simply stayed on “free parking” where would we be as a firm? As parents? As a society?

Ok, you’ve convinced me. I need to be “better.” But how? What will I try to do better? What could I have done better in 2014?

Well, there was the at-home dinner I hosted last August for the CBA’s national conference. My guests were set to arrive at 6:30. At 5:30 I was panicked, anxious, stressed, and nervous.

For those who attended I’m sure you are asking yourselves what the heck I had to be anxious about. After all, it was being catered, I had arranged the cleaner to be there that day, I had shipped the kids out to the grandparent’s house, and I had plenty of wine. But yet, there I was, stressed, sweating, heart racing. Over a dinner — a silly, friendly, relaxed dinner.

I started setting the table, pulling my best (the one with the least number of stains) wrinkle-free tablecloth from the hutch. I spread it across the table. Despite its “wrinkle free” status, it was wrinkly. Really, really wrinkly. I consider ironing it, but I hate ironing even more than I hate January.

So, I opt to keep the wrinkly tablecloth. After all, I recognize these sorts of events that make me anxious likely have the same effect on at least some of my guests. I rationalize my laziness as an attempt to make my guests feel more comfortable.

AND it worked. One guest even specifically commented that the wrinkly tablecloth made her feel right at home.

So, my 2015 resolution is to ensure no iron touches any tablecloth in my house again.

Just kidding.

Actually, it is to continue to be my true, genuine, sincere self.

AND for any of you students interviewing for jobs this year, I would offer the same advice to you. Don’t be who you think the firm wants you to be. Be yourself, wrinkles and all. You never know when you might find a kindred soul who also watches Lost Girl, Star Trek (especially The Next Generation), and Team Umizoomi as much as you do.

The other change I’m going to make in 2015 is to at least spend some of my column telling you about a recent interesting case or legal development from Atlantic Canada.

In December, the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court released its decision in Turner v. Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission. The plaintiff, Thomas Turner, had been a legal aid staff lawyer for about 22 years when he was dismissed for cause. He was dismissed in 2003, with the trial concluding in 2013. The trial went on for some 60 days across several years.

The termination letter included allegations of misleading the commission and clients, providing false information to the commission and clients, and providing erroneous or no advice to clients. It refused to pay vacation pay and, in the event Turner took legal action, it threatened a counter claim for wages paid to him over the previous 10 years because Turner had “not done sufficient work . . . to warrant the salary” he was paid during that time.

Another interesting aspect is that there was a previous interlocutory application (a motion as you folks on the “mainland” might refer to it) by legal aid seeking to adduce expert evidence as to the standard of legal practice as it relates to client contact in criminal and family matters. This was denied.

Given the wording of the termination letter, I was not terribly surprised when the court awarded Turner 22 months reasonable notice, including the capital value of the pension he would have received if contributions were made during the 22-month notice period (he had since retired), as well as $30,000 for the “bad faith” actions of the commission, despite there being no specific medical evidence regarding mental distress.

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