The travelling nature of criminal practice: An Ontario lawyer’s thoughts.
Today, I’ve travelled to Cobourg, Ontario to address some sexual assault charges that I expect to be withdrawn. I arrived early to ensure I was on time so I decided to do what I often do and tour the city or town of the venue. I really enjoy this aspect of my profession as it takes me to places and communities that I would likely never experience if it wasn’t for my cases.
Crime can take you to great places…as a lawyer of course.
My criminal trials place me as far as Windsor to the west, Ottawa to the east, Parry Sound to the North, and virtually everything in between. Sometimes these visits are for months on end in more serious cases like homicides, Whenever I’m out of Toronto I make a point of visiting local restaurants and stores where I am never let down with the food and people’s hospitality. Better still, it allows me to better understand the community in which the case is being tried: their priorities, political views, the perception of the case I may be conducting in high profile crime, and other insights that are invaluable in defending my clients.
Clarence Darrow knew what every good defence lawyer knows: know your audience.
I remember once reading that the famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow used to spend several days in advance of a jury trial with the townsfolk for this very reason. Any skilled advocate knows that understanding your audience is how trials are won. There have been many insights and uses of rhetoric that I have used over the years that were not derived from law school but from an overheard conversation at a local Tim Horton’s. City anecdote don’t work on a town of farmers. You also need to appreciate how to break the negative stereotype of the ‘big city lawyer’ and knowing the pulse of the community you are in is one way to do this.
One perk of being a criminal defence lawyer necessitates having a comfortable car.
One piece of advice though for aspiring criminal lawyers: get a nice car – you virtually live in it driving from one trial to the next.