Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Government Side

On Monday, the Ministry of the Attorney General opened its doors to law school students. Future lawyers from all over Ontario converged on Toronto to check out what they have to offer. After the corporate law firm tour, I wanted to see how the government side compared.

Initial Impression:
Disorganized and unenthusiastic. When I arrived 10 minutes early, the organizers were discussing how there were going to set things up. They asked me to come back. Hmmmm. The initial speaker, a deputy minister, delivered his welcome address in a monotone drone that just about put me to sleep. Thankfully, caffeine offset my waning consciousness. The speach piqued when he said (with absolutely no emotion!) that he was “enthusiastic” of our future prospects at the Ministry. Ha! I just about laughed out loud. Maybe I watch too much Jon Stewart – that stuff cracks me up.

Panelists:
I was very impressed with the folks from the Crown’s Office. The appeared intelligent, (actually) enthusiastic, and prepared. A student from Osgoode Hall asked a rather pointed question about the moral dilemma of fighting for the Crown which was fielded by the panelists very well. One rep went to far as to say that individuals interested in fighting for social justice are hired as prosecutors (and if your passion is in defence, it’s easier to more from the crown to defence than vice-versa). Very useful knowledge.

I was also impressed with the branch dealing with constitutional claims. 18 lawyers with 3 articling students (up from 2 last year). They deal with everything from claims to freedom of speech to religious rights. That would be fun.

Overall:
I have to admit, I was disappointed. These lawyers wield incredible power to effect change. They decide which cases will go to trial, and they are responsible for working with (mostly ignorant) politicians to draft sound legislation. I would HOPE that they’re sharp and passionate about what they do. Instead, they came across as comfortable bureaucrats who accepted "20 – 24 month turn around schedules". I guess I have some thinking to do.

6 Comments:

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a previous public servant, I was privileged to work with some absolutely fantastic and incredibly dedicated lawyers. Without a doubt, their example was a significant factor in inspiring and encouraging me to go to law school.

The lawyers I've worked with (those supporting policy initiatives and helping draft legislation and regulations) are passionate professionals. They do whatever it takes to ensure that the best advice and information is produced in a timely manner.

I imagine that government lawyers may not work as long and as hard as many other lawyers (especially Bay Street lawyers), but their jobs are not one of complete slack. Overall, I think that working in government can be a great career, working with good people on exciting projects without sacrificing one's life.

I think it is very misfortunate that the MAG day did not showcase what I know are some of the great things about working in government.

 
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