Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Final Words: Judge's Perception

“You have your order, now you can collect your mileage.”

Those were the final words spoken by the Judge in my very first motion. Unsure of what he was referring to I simply smiled, thanked him, and went on my way.

My first motion taught me much more than court procedure and legal formality.

Upon exiting the courtroom, opposing counsel asked me if I caught the Judge’s jab about mileage? “No, what was he talking about?” I asked. The lawyer went on to kindly explain that the Judge assumed that because both of us were representing relatively large law firms based in Toronto, we had both traveled over 100 km’s from the provincial capital to Waterloo Region Courthouse for a simple 10 minute motion – and were collecting mileage.

The reality of the situation however, was that upon exiting the courthouse I crossed the street, alighted the elevator, and sat at my desk in MB’s regional office within four minutes. And opposing counsel’s office was only one block from the courthouse – a mere 10 minute walk. Neither of us would be billing our clients one cent for mileage. 

My first motion therefore, taught me much more than court procedure and legal formality. It gave me an insight into the legal culture of the local region and its perception of “Toronto lawyers”.

Rather than put my nose up however, this made me reflect on and appreciate the importance of being a part of the community one works in. The practice of law is sensitive to context – not just theoretically but geographically. Understanding that will hopefully benefit one’s social mileage, without needing to drive long distances. 

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