So you want to be a criminal lawyer...

Frequently asked questions and infrequently heard answers

Why I Support the Creation of Ryerson University Law School

I talk to a lot of law students that oppose the existence of another law school in Ontario and are not happy that Ryerson University Law School has been approved by the Law Society of Ontario and is set to begin classes in September of 2020. I know how they feel. Many of them are in six figure debt and are facing down the prospect of a competitive job market in their late twenties.

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How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Make?

I get asked this question a lot and before I answer, I need to know what you are thinking in asking this question.  Most people that ask this question are making a logical mistake. The better way of asking this question is to ask: how much does a criminal lawyer make compared to an alternative career that I could actually pursue and be successful at?

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Hello to Criminal Law and Goodbye to Bad Conversations

I actually articled at a Bay Street firm that I want to emphasize I thought was excellent and continue to.  I am very proud to have articled there and to have seen how highly intelligent and conscientious lawyers think about their roles and how much hard work they put into their cases.  All of that said, I never really enjoyed the subject matter so it would make sense that I rarely enjoyed the conversations I had the year I articled.

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How do You Represent the People You Represent?

I have represented everyone from accused drug traffickers, to accused sexual assaulters, to accused murderers.  The stock answer to this question from most criminal lawyers goes something like this: “Because I believe that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and because I believe every person is entitled to a fair trial.  Because I believe that advocating for accused people facing the power of the state is the best way to preserve civil liberties in a democratic society and because I believe challenging the power of the state is fundamental to a democratic society.” Of course I believe these things as well and will fight for these principles until my last breath.  But I cannot say this is the main reason that I love criminal law or became a defence lawyer.

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What is Criminal Law Humour and Do I Like It?

Why are there so many Jewish comedians?  From Jerry Seinfeld to Rodney Dangerfield to Mel Brooks to Larry David to Seth Rogan, what is it about the European Jewish culture that produced so many hilarious minds?  After practicing criminal law for many years, to me I have come up with an answer – it is a culture that emerged from suffering and hardship.

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Taxation with Representation - Tax Lessons From a Criminal Lawyer

I actually took tax law in my third year of law school because I had already taken all the courses that I was interested in and because people told me I should take tax law for the bar exam.  I remember exactly two things that my tax professor said in that class. The first was “sometimes people call me and tell me they have a simple issue and ask how much it will cost. I tell them that I don’t deal with simple issues.  I deal with complicated issues. And I bill at a complicated rate.”

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My First Law Partner - Let Yourself Fall In Love

No I don’t mean with criminal law – I mean in the real sense, let yourself fall in love.  This is probably the best advice I could give to be successful on your own in criminal law.

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Do I Have What It Takes to be a Criminal Lawyer?

This is really the key question that is hard to answer.  I can only say that this question is not different about whether you have what it takes to be an actor or a singer or a doctor or any other profession where it is difficult to succeed.

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Why Rafael Nadal is My Legal Hero

I have always loved watching the tennis rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.  I especially loved the contrast between these two tennis legends. Roger Federer is smooth, effortless and always seems in control.  Rafael Nadal always looks like he was trying so hard on every point. Nadal always seems to me like he is trying to impose his will and wear down his opponent from the other side of the court.

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The Intense Highs and Immense Lows of Criminal Law

Let me tell you about the first acquittal that I ever experienced.  The client was charged with a sexual assault and forcible confinement.  If he were found guilty, he was going to go to jail for years and have his life and reputation destroyed.  He wondered aloud to me whether this experience would be survivable (both the conviction and the jail). If he were found not guilty, he was going to be free and have the opportunity to rebuild his life.  It was a judge alone trial and we were anxiously awaiting the verdict.

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