The pros and cons of . . .

Practising in Calgary, practising personal injury law, practising in Trois-Rivières, practising litigation.

Practising in Calgary

Roy Hudson, Davis LLP

• The growing source of international work based in Calgary provides opportunities for both interesting inter-jurisdictional work and mobility.
• The mostly robust economic environment leads to significant work for lawyers.
• The entrepreneurial culture provides great opportunity for young lawyers to build their own practice.
• Significant head office presence provides in-house opportunities second to none in Canada.

• The competitive, driven atmosphere is not for everybody.
• While you hear talk of diversification, Calgary is still the city that oil and gas built and most of the legal work is created by that engine.
• Calgary is a great city, but let’s face it, nobody moves here for the weather.

Don Tse, Macleod Dixon LLP

• Top-notch work. The business environment in Calgary is younger and more entrepreneurial, so the legal work is often innovative and creative.
• Lifestyle. Extensive running paths along the river make a lunchtime or after-work run convenient and 45-minute access to mountains for hiking, biking or skiing allows connection with nature.
• Friendly community. A small bar means lawyers work together and even adversarial matters are worked through professionally and respectfully.
• We’re all going to see each other during the Stampede, so we all stay friends with each other.
• Cost of living. No provincial sales tax + low income taxes + affordable real estate + nationally competitive compensation = happy lawyers.

• What’s the deal with the weather?

Practising personal injury law

Charles Jago, Simpson Thomas & Associates, Vancouver

• There are many legal issues that can come up on any file — even ones that appear straightforward at first blush.
• There are also issues of court procedure that can crop up in any action — so it requires the lawyer to remain vigilant, informed, and on his or her toes.
• There is a great deal of creativity that can be applied on any file. The personal injury lawyer must always be thinking about how he or she is going to bring evidence to bear effectively and persuasively on behalf of the client. Each case is different, as is each client, and one size certainly does not fit all.

• At times one’s patience and resolve can be tested by insurance companies, opposing counsel, and even your own client. This area of law is not without its challenges and some cases can have hard edges.
• Like other areas of litigation, there are highs and lows and one must be prepared to handle both with equanimity. Conflicts do arise that test the mettle of the lawyer. However, this need not necessarily be viewed as a “con” per se. Outlook and attitude is vitally important in personal injury law.

Deanna Gilbert, Thomson Rogers, Toronto

• It is rewarding to help innocent victims who have been seriously injured.
• You have the opportunity to learn a lot about medicine and psychology.
• There are many opportunities for advocacy in the courtroom.

• The statutory accident benefits regime (“no-fault” benefits) is quite “paper heavy.”
• It can be challenging to manage clients’ expectations as to the value of their claims, in light of certain confines in the law (i.e. the pain-and-suffering cap).
• The legislation governing motor vehicle claims and statutory accident benefits frequently changes and one has to stay on top of it.

Practising in Trois-Rivières

Marie-Josée Hétu, Heenan Blaikie LLP

• I specialize in labour law and get to work on files as interesting as if I was in Montreal.
• I work in a big firm, but in a small office so I have the best of both worlds: a very organized environment with great resources, but the feel of a small firm.
• I do not have to suffer intense traffic.
• It’s a great place to raise children.
• I live in the country, but I am only 25 minutes away from work.
• The cultural scene in Trois-Rivières is very lively.

• It is a small town but if you feel the need for a big city, you are halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

Élaine Giguère, Jolicoeur Lacasse Avocats

• Trois-Rivières est une ville très accueillante et dynamique.
• La pratique à Trois-Rivières offre une meilleure qualité de vie que dans certaines grandes villes: le coût de la vie est moins cher, les avocats sont soumis à des objectifs plus bas en termes d’heures de travail et il n’y a aucun bouchon de circulation!
• D’un côté un peu plus professionnel, la pratique du droit est diversifiée et permet aux juristes d’élargir leurs champs de compétence et de pratiquer dans plusieurs domaines de droit.
• Compte tenu de la grandeur de la ville, il existe une bonne convivialité entre les confrères de la communauté juridique, de même qu’une meilleure collaboration entre les collègues de travail.
• La situation géographique de Trois-Rivières est à envier puisqu’elle se situe à mi-chemin entre Québec et Montréal.

• Un professionnel qui désire se spécialiser dans un domaine du droit y trouvera un peu moins son compte puisque la pratique est plus généraliste.
• La cour ne siège qu’aux deux semaines pour les termes de pratique alors que dans les grandes villes, il y a des termes presqu’à tous les jours.
• La vie culturelle de Trois-Rivières est moins diversifiée que dans les grands centres, bien qu’il y ait quand même beaucoup d’activités.
• Les emplois peuvent être plus rares dans certains secteurs professionnels.
• En dehors de la pratique privée, les possibilités d’emploi comme avocat sont moins nombreuses que dans les grands centres.

Practising litigation

Candace Everard Grammond, Pitblado LLP, Winnipeg

• You become very observant by learning how to read people including their motivations for certain actions as well as their body language.
• You become a great strategist by seeing how your strategy and the timing of decisions can affect the outcome of your work; sometimes seemingly small tactical decisions can have a huge impact on the result.
• You learn to think on your feet because it is inevitable that the witness or the court (or both) will say or ask something that you don’t expect. When this occurs, you learn to appear outwardly calm even though your mind might be saying, “Think brain, think of an answer!” As an aside, I find that it helps immensely if your feet are well-dressed while you are thinking on them — I take that one very seriously!!!

• Litigation isn’t for people who don’t like the energy of a dispute.

Cynthia Benson, Stewart McKelvey, Saint John, N.B.

• Litigation allows you to work on a wide array of complex and challenging issues.
• Litigators will learn great strategic skills and how to think quickly on their feet.
• You aren’t exactly Alan Shore, but it is a little like television!
• Litigation can be fast-paced with many unexpected twists and turns.

• In this economy, clients are increasingly reluctant to allocate resources to proceed to trial and are looking for expeditious alternatives, such as mediation. As a result, it may be challenging for associates to gain valuable courtroom experience.
• Litigation can be affected by legislative changes. For example, “cap” legislation or tort reform may adversely affect the volume of personal injury litigation.
• Litigation is, by nature, adversarial, even if lawyers are professional and courteous. If you don’t enjoy conflict, don’t become a litigator.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE weekly newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered every two weeks, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please complete the form below to receive the weekly Canadian Legal Newswire and/or the Canadian Inhouse Legal Newswire.

Recent articles & video

Daphne Dumont to receive CBA’s Cecilia I. Johnstone award

Quebec taking harsh line on cannabis edibles

Will the conversation catalyzed by the Law Society of Ontario mean the end of articling?

Copyright law: set for an overhaul?

Corporate Counsel Survey 2019 closes on Monday, Aug 26

When Legal Aid is a political prop, Access to justice suffers

Most Read Articles

Canadian Judicial Council seeks leave to SCC in Girouard case

The Ontario government is destroying university legal clinics

Quebec taking harsh line on cannabis edibles

Will the conversation catalyzed by the Law Society of Ontario mean the end of articling?