The Honourable Sharon Shore’s Questionnaire
Under the new judicial application process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for federal judicial appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire may be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench. The information is published as it was submitted by the candidates at the time they applied, subject to editing where necessary for privacy reasons.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable Sharon Shore.
Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment
Part 5 – Language
Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below, you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.
Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:
- English: Yes
- French: No
Part 6 – Education
Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:
- Osgoode Hall Law School, LLB, 1993-1996
- York University, Bachelor of Arts (Political Science), 1991-1993
- Riverdale Mediation, Certified Family Law Mediator, “Introduction to ADR”, January 22-24, 2016
- “Basic Family Negotiation and Mediation”, May 5-11, 2016
- “Screening for Family Violence, Abuse and Power Imbalances”, April 13-15, 2016
- University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management, Communal Leadership Program, Executive Program, 2009
- Collaborative Family Law Training, Level I and Level II
I have continued to attend numerous Continuing Legal Educational programs every year since my call to the Bar in 1998, which programs include but are not limited to:
- OBA Institute, Family Law Section, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005-2016
- Six-Minute Family Law Lawyer (LSUC) 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007-2014
- High Conflict Divorce Symposium (High Conflict Forum) 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013
- Family Law Summit (LSUC), 2007-2013 and 2015
- Sixth Annual Bread and Butter Issues in Family Law, OBA (September 2015)
- Evidence and Objections at Trial, OBA (March 2011)
- 25th Anniversary of the Family Law Act (LSUC), March 2011
- Advanced Round Table in Family Law (February 2010)
- Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (joint OBA and LSUC)
- Child Support Revisited (OBA), 2002
- Altered States – Advising the Remarrying Client (OBA), 1997
Honours and Awards:
- Dean’s Honour Roll, York University, 1993
- Recipient of the Shem Tov Award, UJA [United Jewish Appeal] Federation, 2012 (an award presented to leaders representing the highest level of excellence in volunteer service in Toronto’s Jewish community)
Part 7 – Professional and Employment History
Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.
Legal Work Experience:
Epstein Cole LLP:
- Partner (2005-Present)
- Mediator (2009-Present)
- Associate (1998-2005)
- Articling Student (1996-1997)
Milrad and Agnew:
- Summer Student (May/June 1995)
Ministry of Child and Youth, Province of Ontario
- Summer Student (July/August 1995)
Osgoode Hall Law School:
- Research Assistant for Professor Frederick Zemans (1994-1995)
Other Professional Experience:
List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.
Ontario Bar Association:
- Chair, Access to Justice Committee (2017-Present)
- Chair, Family Law Section (June 2015 – June 2017)
- Council Member, OBA (2015-Present)
- Vice-Chair, Family Law Section (2014-2015)
- Executive Member, Family Law Section, OBA (2006-2009 and 2011-Present)
- Chair and Author, Submissions Regarding Expansion of Service of Paralegals Into Family Law, Family Law Section, OBA (2016)
- Chair, Committee for Tax Reform in Family Law, Family Law Section, OBA (2008-2010)
- Committee member: Grandparent Access, including submissions (2013)
- Contributor, Matrimonial Affairs, Family Law Section, OBA (2015-Present)
- Committee member, Government Relations, Family Law Section, OBA (2011-2015)
Canadian Bar Association:
- Executive Member, Family Law Section (2015-Present)
Law Society of Upper Canada:
- Committee Member, Medium Size Firms, Justicia Project, LSUC (2008-2014)
- Instructor, Bar Admission Court, Family Law Seminar, LSUC (2006)
Committee member of various committees relating to the advancement and reform in family law, including, but not limited to:
- Family Law Bench and Bar Committee, 393 University Avenue, Toronto (2015 to date)
- Family Justice Table – Ministry of the Attorney General – Table Member (2015, 2016)
- Future of Legal Representation in Family Law, chaired by Justices Czutrin and Paulseth (2015)
- Unified Family Court, Working Group (2015)
- Student Committee, Epstein Cole LLP (responsible for hiring, supervising and training summer and articling students)
- Articling Principal (2015-2016)
- Chair of Committee (2008-Present)
Pro Bono Activities:
- Amicus Duty Counsel, Family Law Amicus Duty Counsel Program, Court of Appeal (2016-Present)
- Pro Bono Students Canada – I have supervised law students through Pro Bono Students Canada for 6-8 weeks each year.
- Member, Advisory Board, Downtown Legal Services, Family Law Project, University of Toronto Law School (2006-2007)
At any given time, I have 2-3 ongoing pro bono family law files, usually for women who have experienced domestic violence and referred to me from various Jewish organizations in Toronto. I also act as counsel, on a pro bono basis, for Agunot, women whose husbands have refused to give their wives a ghett (Jewish divorce). I am one of the few lawyers in Ontario with expertise in this area of law, and I have been asked to be co-counsel on several cases, specifically to address this issue for their clients. This is mostly done on a pro bono basis.
Teaching and Continuing Education:
List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).
- Speaker/Panelist, “Mediation in a Pluralistic Society”, ADRIO [Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario] and FDRIO [Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario] (November 2016)
- Speaker, Client Communication in Family Law, LSUC (November 2016)
- Speaker, "Behind the Veil or to no Avail – Current thoughts on attribution of corporate income", Victoria B.C. (June 16, 2016), Business Valuation Conference, The Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators
- Speaker, “Current Issues in the Family Law Bar”, Halton Family Law Association (January 2016)
- Speaker, “New initiatives every family law lawyer needs to know”, Simcoe County Family Law Lawyers Association Conference (SCFLLA) (June 2016)
- Co-chair, “Beyond the basics: Tackling current issues in Family Law," OBA Institute, Family Law Section (February 2015)
- Chair, “Legislative Update: Need-to-Know Changes to the Family Law Rules”, OBA (May 2015)
- Speaker/panelist, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, OBA Family Section” (March 2015)
- Speaker/panelist, "International Ghet Law and the plight of Agunot outside of Israel", International Conference on Woman Abuse and Child Abuse in the Jewish Community, Jerusalem, Israel, sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Social Welfare – Department of Child and Youth Services (December 2015)
- Co-Chair, “International Family Law Issues”, OBA (June 2014)
- Co-Chair, “Issues for Today, Preparing for Tomorrow”, OBA Institute, Family Law Section (February 7, 2014)
- Guest Lecturer, Advance Family Law Class, University of Toronto (March 2013)
- Speaker, presenting paper “Imputing Income to the Support Recipient – The Road Less Travelled”, Six-Minute Family Law Lawyer, LSUC (December 2013), reprinted in Money & Family Law, Thompson Reuters Carswell, January 2014, Issue 29-1
- Panel Member, “Maximum Contact Debate”, Challenging Clinical and Legal Assumptions in Family Law, High Conflict Forum (April 2013)
- Speaker, “Issues on Cross Border Support Cases – Jurisdiction, Entitlement and Quantum”, “1 Legal System + 2 Jurisdictions = Infinite Opportunities”, joint OBA/ABA conference, Buffalo, New York (March 2012)
- Lecturer, “Ghet and Agunot: 25 Years Since the Amendments to the Divorce Act and Family Law Act”, University of Toronto (2012)
- Speaker, “Multicultural Sensitivity in Marriage and Divorce”, Jewish Lawyers’ Network (September 2011), CPD [Continuing Professional Development] approved
- Speaker/Panelist, “Articling Prep Program”, University of Toronto, Law School (2012)
- Chair and Moderator, “High Conflict Divorces and the Best Practice Guide”, OBA (2009)
- Speaker, “Annotated Retainer Agreements”, LSUC (April 2009)
- Author, “When Jewish and Civil Laws Collide: Assisting our Agunot: Are Jewish Prenuptial Agreements Viable in Ontario?” Bnai Brith Law Journal, December 2009, Volume 1, Number 2, at page 10.
- Co-author, “Non-Recurring Income and Support”, Six-Minute Family Law Lawyer, LSUC (2007)
- Speaker, "Child Related Issues in Family Law", Woman Abuse Program, Jewish Family & Child Service of Greater Toronto (2007)
- Instructor, Bar Admission Court, Family Law, LSUC (2006)
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (TanenbaumCHAT High School):
- Board member (2013-Present)
- Committee Member, Governance Committee (2013-Present)
- Chair, Recruitment Committee (2015-2016)
Jewish Family & Child Foundation:
- Board Member (2015-Present)
- Committee Member, Steering Committee for 150-Year Anniversary Celebrations (2016-Present)
- Committee Member, Gala Dinner Planning Committee (2016-Present)
Jewish Family & Child Service of Greater Toronto (JF&CS/CAS):
- President (2009-2011)
- Vice President (2005-09)
- Executive Member (2005-2013)
- Board Member (2000-2013)
- Chair, Child and Youth Services Committee (2006-2009)
- Chair, Nominating and Governance Committee (2009-2011)
- Committee Member (at various times from 1993-2013):
o Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS)
o Resource Development
o Strategic Planning
o Child and Youth Services
o Family and Rehab
o Nominating and Governance
o York Region Planning
o Client Complaints
o Orthodox Outreach
o Joint Task Force with UJA Federation
o Executive Director Search Committee
o Policy Review (sub-committees)
Part 11 – The Role of the Judiciary in Canada’s Legal System
The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.
1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?
I believe that my most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada relates to my work with Agunot (literally means "chained women"), Jewish women whose husbands have refused to grant them a religious divorce (a "ghett"), thus preventing them from being able to remarry and move on with their lives.
In civil law, the institute of marriage is created by the state, and therefore marriage ends in a divorce granted by the state. In Jewish law, marriage is created by a contract between a man and a woman. Therefore, in order to end a marriage and obtain a divorce under Jewish law, it must be with the consent of both parties, by way of a contract called a ghett. A Jewish woman is not allowed to remarry or have children until she receives the ghett (Jewish divorce) from her husband. This can have terrible and unfair repercussions for young women trapped in religious marriages. Some men use the ghett as leverage against their wives to obtain agreements with terms that are more favourable to them than they would otherwise be entitled to obtain under civil law.
In 1985, the Family Law Act and the Divorce Act were amended to include what has become known as the "Ghett Law". If a husband (or wife) refuses to remove religious barriers to allow the other spouse to remarry (granting a ghett) then the court has various remedies available, including refusing to allow the spouse to have standing in civil court, striking the spouse's pleadings, or setting aside agreements entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining a ghett.
Over the last decade, I have represented many women in trying to obtain their ghett. I have done all of this work on a pro bono basis. I have lectured extensively on this topic, both to family law lawyers and to members of the Jewish Community. I have worked closely with rabbis, community leaders and lawyers to try to assist these vulnerable women. Refusing to give a ghett has been recognized as a form of abuse, but in some cases, also perpetuates the abuse that the woman experienced during the marriage. Awareness of the laws is key for a family law lawyer. Given the remedies available in civil court, no lawyer should be allowing their Jewish client to enter into a final agreement or attend at trial before obtaining a ghett. If the corollary issues in a divorce have already been resolved, there is little that can be done to persuade the husband to give the ghett. Given that the ghett is a contract, contract law applies, and it must be given out of free will.
A few years ago, the Rabbinical Council of America created a prenuptial agreement that states that if there is a breakdown in the marriage, the parties agree to attend in front of the Jewish court (beit din) for the purpose of facilitating a ghett. The agreement allows the Jewish Court to award costs but also provides for a financial penalty (in the form of spousal support) for so long as they remain married under Jewish law, thus providing a financial incentive to give the ghett. In Canada, as a result of the amendment to the Arbitration Act and the Family Law Act, family law cases can only be arbitrated by a deemed family law arbitrator, in accordance with civil law. As such, the prenuptial agreement created in the US cannot be used in Canada. Working closely with rabbis and with other family law lawyers, I was instrumental in creating a marriage contract that would be binding in Canada and should also assist with women obtaining their ghett. This contract has gained traction, and hopefully will soon be widely and commonly used within the Jewish community and drastically reduce the number of Agunot in Canada.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
My experiences to date have allowed me insight into the diverse socio-economic, geographic and ethnically diverse communities in Canada.
I work with very ethnically diverse clients and I have been asked to speak to both lawyers and mediators on practising law and mediation in an ethnically diverse society. I have lectured on the sensitivity and awareness that is required by the legal profession in servicing the diverse cultures found in Canadian society, starting in September 2001, when I co-chaired a program with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer titled “Multicultural Sensitivity in Marriage and Divorce” up until as recently as November 2016, when I participated as a speaker/panelist in a joint program run by the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) and the ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO), entitled “Mediation in a Pluralistic Society”.
Family law lawyers need to have insight to, and an understanding of, the dynamics of the parties in order be effective as a lawyer, to act in the best interest of the child and in order to advocate effectively on behalf of their clients. More often than not, this insight includes having knowledge of and sensitivity to their individual backgrounds and culture. By way of example, in order to assist families in settling their disputes, it is important to understand the family dynamics and the place from which each party is approaching the issue. Religion, culture, ethnicity, age, and numerous other factors are vitally important to be able to negotiate or mediate a settlement of the issues. Settlement rarely occurs in family law without a working knowledge of the history and background of a family. When addressing issues, such as custody and access, culture and ethnicity play a significant role. For example, what holidays are important to the family? What holidays are actually celebrated by the family? How important is extended family and what role does it play? What aspects of custody are important? How heavily does religion factor into decision-making? In taking instructions from clients, do cultural norms or practices play a role? Is a client deferring to you due to cultural practices and norms? In the 19 years that I have been practising family law, I have been fortunate to have been exposed to and work with families from numerous cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
I have also been fortunate to be able to work with lawyers and families from across the province. For the last several years, I have served on the executive of the Family Law Section of, and on the Council for, the Ontario Bar Association. In addition, for the last two years, I have served as Chair of that section and I have sat on the executive of the Family Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association. As such, I have had an opportunity to hear from and work with lawyers from across Canada (from east to west and north to south) and to hear the various issues being addressed both on a provincial and a federal level. I have also been fortunate to work in this capacity, not only with lawyers from large urban areas, but also with lawyers in more isolated and rural communities, listening to the concerns and challenges being faced by their communities. Although my practice is based in Toronto, I have served clients and appeared in or visited courts across the province. One of the major issues being addressed by the Family Law Bar is the issue of access to justice. The OBA executive has tried to address this issue by working with judges, lawyers and various levels of government across the province. How this issue is to be addressed is sometimes quite specific to individual communities.
While many of my clients have high net worth or are high income earners, I have spent years volunteering at and doing pro bono work for several not-for-profit organizations, serving some of the most vulnerable members of our society. By way of example, for approximately 13 years I served on the Board of Jewish Family & Child Service of Greater Toronto, one of four Children Aid Societies in Toronto. I was a member of the executive for approximately 8 years and I served a two-year term as president. Aside from the provincial government, the United Way of Greater Toronto and the UJA Federation are the two largest funders of this organization. During my tenure, I was required to make several presentations and funding requests (and budget submissions) to all three. In order to do this properly, it was important to be aware of and understand the pressing needs of the vulnerable community, including meeting the needs of the poor, the mentally challenged and the abused. The Board was required to understand the needs of the vulnerable in the community we served and "have a finger on the pulse" of the community in order to anticipate needs for service. Further, for the past 18 years, since my call to the bar, I have offered pro bono services for women and children who have suffered from domestic violence. Domestic violence crosses all socio-economic backgrounds.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
The original role of a judge in a constitutional democracy was to interpret and apply the law and the Constitution, whether between private individuals, individuals and the government, or between different levels of government. However, as set out below, in more recent years, as a result of the Charter of Rights, this role has been expanded somewhat to include assisting in narrowing the gap between social norms and the law.
In Canada, the political system has three distinct branches of government: the executive branch (or Cabinet); the legislative branch (or Parliament); and the judiciary (the judges who preside over cases before the courts). The Constitution defines the powers, and the limits of the powers, that can be exercised by each of the three branches. Parliament and the legislatures determine the social course of the nation, subject to the constraints imposed by the Constitution and its traditions. The courts, by contrast, interpret the law and the Constitution. Drafting, debating, and passing laws are essentially political activities. Interpreting the laws and the constitution are essentially legal activities. The judiciary plays a supervisory role, to interpret and apply the law as determined by Parliament, but also to ensure that all three branches of government exercise their power within the parameters set out in our Constitution.
“Aharon Barak [states] that it is precisely because judges are not politicians that they are the right people to undertake the constitutional role of ensuring that the legislature and the executive comply with legal requirements [...]. Barak points out that tension between the courts and other branches of government is natural and it is desirable. If the courts' decisions were always welcomed by the executive, judges would not be doing their job properly.”
Vital to the Canadian system is the impartiality of a judge. This is different than the system in the United States. In Canada, judicial independence is viewed as vital to fostering public confidence in the fairness and objectivity of the justice system. The Supreme Court of Canada has described judicial independence as “the cornerstone, a necessary prerequisite for judicial impartiality.”
Although it is Parliament's role to change the law to meet the needs of society, in Canada, the judiciary more recently has also played a role in balancing the gap between the law and society, while maintaining and protecting the constitution and democracy. The judge's modified role started to emerge with the passing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, but has continued to evolve since that time. Under the Charter, judges are required to render decisions on matters which involve basic individual liberties and human rights. This has resulted in a wide range of issues which previously would never have been the subject of dispute before the courts: same-sex marriage, expansion of the definition of a "parent", Aboriginal rights, the legality of assisted suicide, abortion, mandatory retirement, and hate propaganda, to name a few.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the vital role that judges play in ensuring access to justice. More and more we are seeing self-represented litigants in our court system. Although lawyers, judges and Parliament are still grappling with this issue, judges play a vital role in ensuring access to justice for self-represented litigants, without bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.
Judges interpret the law, assess the evidence presented, and control how hearings and trials unfold in their courtrooms. Most important of all, judges are impartial decision-makers in the pursuit of justice.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
A decision rendered by the courts can have several audiences, including the parties and their lawyers, members of the legal profession, other judges and courts, the public, and/or the various branches of government.
The primary and most common audience for decisions are the parties to the proceedings (whether private individuals, corporations or various levels of government), their lawyers, and other members of the judiciary. However, sometimes, equally as important, the audience for decisions rendered by the courts also includes members of the public (as addressed in more detail below). It is for this reason that sometimes the reasons for a decision are equally as important as the decision itself.
In our system of precedential law, decisions are important to address or differentiate a case from past judgments, develop and extend an aspect of the common law or identify the direction which the law is taking. Well-written decisions play an important role in enforcing the administration of justice and confidence in the legal system. I have often talked to our articling students about the difference between a good decision and a bad decision. My favourite decisions are the ones where even if I am not successful, I understand how and why the judge arrived at the decision. Likewise, I feel frustrated when I receive favourable decisions and the reasons for them remain obscure, leaving both parties and counsel disappointed. When parties feel that a judge has carefully considered all of the arguments, they are more likely to be satisfied with the process, even if they disagree with the result.
Several years ago, I argued a long motion on custody and access. The door to the courtroom had barely closed when the Court Service Officer came out with a five-page typed decision. Without even reading the decision, opposing counsel and I knew that neither party would feel that justice was served, regardless of the actual order. The decision had obviously been written earlier, and it was difficult for us to explain to our clients the purpose of having gone through the time and expense of actually arguing the motion if the judge had already predetermined the matter. Writing reasons forces a judge to consider carefully the reasons for the judgment rendered. Therefore, reasons for decisions can often be just as important as the decision itself for the parties and lawyers involved.
The role of the judiciary – to interpret and apply the law and the Constitution – will often affect more than the parties who participated in the litigation. In this role, judgments are important to legislators and governments. Decisions may identify the limits of legislative power and how the power given by valid legislation is to be exercised. Parliament may say what the law should be; the courts say what it is to be understood to say and how it is to be applied. Judgments may have a constitutional dimension. Further, the ability of a court to find legislation and decisions by government to be contrary to the Charter of Rights or the Constitution can have profound effect on both government and society.
Finally, decisions, and reasons for decisions, are also written for the Court of Appeal. In the event that a decision is appealed, it is important to provide a road map for the Court of Appeal as to how a decision was reached and the consideration given to the various issues and findings of fact.
5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.
Public service has always formed a vital role in my life. I started volunteering back in high school and I have continued to be very actively involved in community work to this day, both in the legal community and in the not-for-profit sector. Being a judge affords a tremendous opportunity to make a positive difference. As a lawyer, you can contribute on a case-by-case basis. As a judge, you can bring a positive and empathetic approach to a broad range of cases every day. It is not just about adjudicating. It is also about resolving matters and helping parties work through difficult decisions. I also sit and have sat on several committees and subcommittees addressing various issues related to self-represented litigants and access-to-justice issues. Being a judge is something I very much look forward to and is consistent with my desire to continue giving back to the community.
I believe that my knowledge of the law, my analytical skills and my willingness and ability to learn various areas (and new areas) of law will be of great assistance. Although my legal experience has been primarily in the area of family law, no family law lawyer can practise without having a fairly good understanding of many other areas of law, including (but not limited to) criminal law, wills and estates law, trust law, corporate law, tax law and employment law. In the event that I am not designated a family law judge, I have no concern about my ability to learn and manage cases in other areas of law. I have always enjoyed the practice of law, keeping up to date on both changes in the law and changes in the practice of law. As laws and procedures changed over the years, I have been at the forefront, chairing programs or speaking to the Family Law Bar, as the changes occur. I have also had the opportunity to provide feedback to government and the Law Society on proposed legislation and procedure in my role as Chair of the OBA, Family Law Section.
I am a hard worker and I believe that my ability to multi-task will serve me well in the role of a judge. I have balanced family life (I have three teenage children), work (a full-time practice downtown) and volunteer work. This volunteer work includes my currently chairing the OBA, Family Law Section, and having served as President of Jewish Family & Child Service, assisting some of the most vulnerable members of our society, with a budget of over $19,000,000, over 125 staff and countless volunteers. I have been asked to speak to both lawyers and young professionals about work-life balance. I have acted formally and informally as a mentor to young women and men in the family law bar who are trying to find the right balance. It was for this reason that I volunteered to serve on the Justicia Project at the Law Society of Upper Canada, a very important initiative looking at the retention of women in the legal profession. A strong work ethic, along with the ability to multi-task, will serve me well in my role as a judge.
In my role as a mediator and lawyer, I have fine-tuned my ability to be an active listener. As a mediator, I have learned to remain objective when meeting with parties: not imposing my own opinions, and arriving without preconceived notions. I have worked with parties from various socio-economic, religious and cultural backgrounds. It is important to be able to listen actively to what is important to them, and not what I anticipate should be important to them. Often, parties just want an opportunity to tell their side of the story before being able to move forward to resolution.
Last, but not least, is integrity. I have always tried to conduct my personal and professional life with integrity. One of the lessons I learned from my mentors is that it takes a lifetime to build your reputation, and only minutes to destroy it. There is no one case or one client that is worth harming your own reputation. This includes being respectful to lawyers, clients, staff and anyone else I come across in my professional or personal life.
I have been cautioned by colleagues who have become judges that becoming a judge can sometimes feel isolating. I am very fortunate to have a very strong support system, including friends and family, which I believe is important in balancing the role of a judge with the loss of comradeship of the close family law bar. I believe that serving as a judge would be a good consolidation of my commitment to the broader community and my strong legal and analytical skills that have developed during my 19 years of practising law in one of the largest family law firms in the country.
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