Articling with LAO was an “easy choice”

Monday, March 4, 2013

A profile of Legal Aid Ontario’s Brian Crowley

Early on in Brian Crowley’s articling experience with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), he found himself preparing a particularly irate client for his case conference in family court.

Ian Dupont

“With LAO…if you want to do rewarding work that results in concrete changes in people’s lives, you will get that every day.”
- Brian Crowley

By simply listening and allowing the man to vent, Brian discovered his client’s frustration stemmed from the confusing nature of the courts. Brian was able to help his client move forward after meeting with him several times as his case progressed through the system.

“In the end, he thanked me for my assistance and mentioned that he had none of the experience I had,” Brian recalls. “Little did he know that the case conference was the first time I went on record in family court!”

Learning to be a better advocate for his clients

Law school, Brian reflects, is very academic and doesn’t prepare students for the reality of the courtroom.

Articling at the small Goderich/Stratford duty counsel office – which is made up of two lawyers and one legal aid worker – has meant exposure to a variety of legal problems and proceedings. In any given week, Brian finds himself in several different courts ranging from criminal to family to bail to youth.

“With LAO, if you want to be in court, you will get that every day. If you want to interact with a broad segment of your community, you will get that every day. If you want to do rewarding work that results in concrete change in people’s lives, you will get that every day,” Brian says.

Because the duty counsel office hosts a satellite office of the Huron-Perth Community Legal Clinic, Brian notes an overlap with criminal and family court clients and those who access the poverty law clinics. Through helping his clients with their intersecting needs, Brian has become a better advocate for his clients.

He notes that, in the case of family law, clients remain in the system for months – and even years. The very nature of resolving family law matters means Brian often sees clients several times before their matter is resolved.

“This repeated exposure allows for duty counsel to develop meaningful relationships with family court litigants,” he says. “It puts a human face on what might otherwise be just another motion or case conference.”

Articling with LAO is more than a desk job

While Brian was at Queen’s University, he was a student member of the Correctional Law Project, a specialized legal clinic that LAO funds, where he represented inmates before the Disciplinary Court at Kingston Penitentiary.

This led to a strong interest in criminal law and public service – and a desire to article with LAO. When he began his term in July 2012, he immediately realized the wealth of direct experience he was gaining.

“It’s so much more than being chained to a desk, working on innumerable minor tasks that have been delegated to you,” he notes.

Supervisory Duty Counsel, John Myers, routinely provides Brian with practical advice for the courtroom. Under John’s guidance, Brian has developed a confidence that allows him to think on his feet and remain collected in front of the court.

“Articling with the small but mighty team at the Goderich/Stratford Counsel office has been a delight,” Brian says.

Brian completes his articles in May 2013 and says he hopes to return to LAO and work at a duty counsel office.

Get more information

For further information on working for LAO, contact LAO’s Human Resources toll-free at or by phone at 1-800-668-8258.