President's Report | December 2020
We are now almost 9 months into the global pandemic at the time of publication of this article and an end does not appear to be in sight. At the time of writing, the rates of COVID-19 infections in Hamilton are surging, patio socializing is becoming a less appealing option with outdoor temperatures falling, and many parts of Europe are entering ‘lockdown light’. One thing is certain, as a community, we need to help and respect one another. I am proud to say that, through the support that our Association has given to all of our area lawyers, we have played a part in mitigating the disruption to the community, our clients, and ourselves.
Eight years ago, a dear friend, mentor, and colleague of mine, Michelle Stark, sat in my position as President of the HLA and urged the membership to read a reference guide prepared by the American Bar Association called “Surviving a Disaster – A Lawyer’s Guide to Disaster Planning”. I imagine that document will require some considerable updating and that all of us, considering the re-evaluation, the modifications both physical and procedural and the new stresses that we have all had to experience, would have something to add to a new version-“Surviving a Disaster: Version 2.0 Coronavirus Edition.” The Hamilton Law Association has continued, during the last few months, our directive in providing our members with quality continuing professional development. Our staff has embraced new technologies and many interesting seminar and educational events have been made possible by “Zoom”. We have hosted many of our traditional annual events including: The Annual New Lawyer’s Seminar, The Annual Corporate Commercial Law Seminar, The Annual Family Law Seminar, and The Annual Real Estate Seminar. It is so wonderful to see our members continuing to interact and participate in our most popular proceedings. We have also added some interesting and topical programing relating to technology and other issues of current interest to our members.
I attended The Annual Family Law Seminar and was impressed with the programming. I found Justice Shore’s presentation on Cultural Awareness in Family Law particularly interesting as she outlined caselaw surrounding religious marriage and divorces, an area where I have had little opportunity to study. I was impressed with the case summaries done by various members of the Hamilton Family Law Bar. My heart was warmed by Virginia Mendes da Costa when she called out to us to be nice to our fellow lawyers in this difficult time at the end of her informative presentation.
On November 5, 2020, I had the honour of participating in a “Women in the Law” event with an admirable group of colleagues. This program was designed to encourage, inspire and support women in the legal profession. It is always thought provoking to be involved in such events and be surrounded by supportive colleagues. I am encouraged that some men registered to participate in this event. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to envision changes to a variety of barriers to justice and perhaps to reinvigorate our approaches so that all lawyers who seek to achieve their potential do not face uncalled-for barriers.
Our wonderful Librarian, Laura Richmond, organized an entirely free Fall Library Research Series with practical and useful tips regarding case law searching, legislation, and precedents over three lunch hours. I encourage you to check out the current lineup of upcoming programs on the HLA website, under the “Education and Events“ link to see if there is something that you might find beneficial to your practice.
The postponed, but not forgotten, 34th Annual Joint Insurance Seminar, spearheaded by loyal members Joseph Sullivan and Allen Wynperle, will take place on December 3rd through webcast. An interesting list of topics is scheduled along with infectious disease speaker Dr. Zain Chagla, who will provide a Corona Virus Epidemiology update. I am definitely going to watch that presentation.
We have continued as an Association to advocate on important issues like Legal Aid Funding and the Family Legal Service Provider License by writing position letters. We have a Professional Matters Committee, chaired by Laura Dickson, which is very active in matters important to our profession.
I plan to continue to participate and attend events such as the 19th Annual Sopinka Legal Luncheon and the Federation of Ontario Law Associations Fall Plenary, and look forward to reporting to you on those meetings in my next report. We have addressed a number of member concerns and had an open dialogue meeting with the Honourable Mr. Justice Harrison S. Arrell, the past Regional Senior Justice. We always welcome discussion with our members concerning practicing law in Hamilton.
As the winter solstice approaches, the day each year with the shortest day and the longest night, everything seems difficult and frustrating but just as the light of the day will lengthen, so too will our lives brighten soon; I am hopeful that we can use this time to reflect on how the pandemic has changed our outlook on the more important things in life, namely our health and family. I am excited to spend the Holidays with my young daughter and she is hopeful that Santa won’t forget her. I trust that this brings you all up to date on HLA happenings. I wish you all a joyful holiday season along with health and happiness. Godspeed.