Talking Together circles and travelling court add to “empowering” articling experience in Thunder Bay
Wednesday, March 13
A profile of Legal Aid Ontario’s Tiffany Boisvert
Working out of Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) Northwest District office and taking part in travelling court, articling student Tiffany Boisvert has seen justice served in some of the unlikeliest “courtrooms” in remote communities.
“LAO serves an important role in promoting access to justice and I wanted to do work that I felt was making a difference.”
– Tiffany Boisvert, articling student
“We’ve set up court in a legion hall with a disco ball in the ‘courtroom,’ a cultural centre where there were looms in the ‘judge’s chambers,’ and even a hockey arena!” she says.
Tiffany fully realizes that working for LAO – and at the Northwest District office in particular – is a completely different experience from a corporate articling position. For one thing, Thunder Bay’s legal community is relatively small, with only six Ontario court judges and a fairly small family and criminal bar.
More than working behind the scenes
Prior to articling with LAO, Tiffany spent two summers working with the organization and participated in a Talking Together program, which uses traditional Aboriginal circles as an alternative to the court process. The Talking Together circle works to reduce the number of Aboriginal children and youth being removed from their communities. Collectively, the circle decides on a plan of care that is filed with the court and supported by the child’s home community.
“Throughout my time with LAO, I’ve had a variety of interesting and challenging tasks that allowed me to expand my knowledge base while maintaining a healthy work/life balance,” she says.
Whether it’s addressing the court or dealing directly with clients, it’s more than simply working behind the scenes. Tiffany acknowledges how fortunate she’s been to experience a variety of rotations, including a stint in poverty law at a local clinic and later, with family duty counsel. Currently, she is doing a criminal rotation with a member of the private bar.
“I was delighted when I found out I’d be able to article with LAO,” she says. “I knew it would give me a well-rounded, hands-on articling experience that would prepare me well for the practice of law.”
Tiffany distinctly remembers a custody case involving a single mother who was close to her in age. While the file wasn’t particularly complicated and was ultimately resolved in an uncontested hearing, Tiffany recalls her client’s visible relief and gratitude.
“You could see it was a huge burden lifted from her shoulders,” Tiffany remembers. “She was very moved and asked if she could give me a hug. She later sent me a card with a picture of her child, thanking me and wishing me luck with my career. It was extremely touching.”
Choosing to article with LAO
Tiffany chose to attend law school because she wanted to help promote the rights and interests of those whose voices aren’t readily heard.
“LAO serves an important role in promoting access to justice,” she reflects. “I wanted to employ my skills in a way I felt was making a difference, namely assisting and empowering those who are marginalized.”
Choosing to article with LAO stemmed from her positive experience with the organization as a summer student back in 2010. She was pleasantly surprised to find herself in a courtroom on her very first day and working directly with clients shortly after beginning her placement.
Tiffany will complete her articles in April 2013 and be called to the bar in June 2013. She has accepted a position as a hybrid staff lawyer with the Thunder Bay office.
“I would recommend – and have recommended – the Legal Aid Ontario articling program to other students because it provides a very hands-on, interesting and well-balanced work experience,” she says. “You’re doing important work that not only empowers you, but your clients as well.”
Get more information
For further information on working for LAO, contact LAO’s Human Resources toll-free at email@example.com or by phone at 1-800-668-8258.