About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing to the Governor General about Derek Boogaard and Law Clerks

My last post was the first section of a letter I wrote to Canada's Governor General, David Johnston, about his book, The Idea of Canada - Letters to a Nation. This post is the next part of that letter. I will post the last part of the letter in my next post. 
In your address to the clerks of the Supreme Court you spoke of six relationships for lawyers. They were the relationships between the lawyer and justice, the lawyer and trust, the lawyer and education, the lawyer and social need, the lawyer and the firm and the lawyer and public service. I believe there is an important seventh relationship for lawyers. It is the relationship between the lawyer and people. I have spent over four decades in my office and in court representing people.

Public concerns with the legal profession are rarely over the relationships between lawyers and corporate or government clients. They are with regard to lawyers and people.

From my time as an articling student through the numerous students for whom I have been principal through watching the experiences of my sons in law school I have found law school graduates ill-prepared to deal with people. To aid in a basic element of the relationship between the lawyer and people I suggested at a seminar at the College of Law in Saskatoon a few years ago that law students be taught how to interview people.

I applaud your recommendations for a greater integration between law school and practising lawyers but I fear the focus will be on the needs of corporations and governments.

In your analysis I did not see an emphasis on improving how lawyers deal with people. You spoke of corporate law and big firm practice. I would say your observations are common within law schools, government and “big” law. The concentration is on the legal needs of the corporate world and government world.

As a resident of rural Canada I also see limitations on who speaks with regard to lawyers in Canada. I attended a conference on Power in the Law that dealt primarily with the issues of women in the legal profession. I spoke in a seminar on the law effecting social change. My topic was the role of class actions in this area. I added a couple of comments for the organizers. I said that I was a member of a minority among the presenters. I know most thought I was going to say the minority was men. It was a surprise for those assembled when I said that the minority of which I spoke was that out of 25 presenters I was the only speaker from a community of under 100,000.

If you should write another book of letters I would encourage you to write to law students who will neither be clerking at courts nor becoming law school professors nor going to big firms nor joining government. I hope you would write to the students who will be dealing with the legal needs of the people of Canada.

I have thought most about your letter to your former Harvard hockey coach, Ralph “Cooney” Weiland on banning fighting and headshots in hockey. In support of your position, especially with regard to fighting, you used the example of Derek Boogaard.

I knew Derek as a boy in Melfort. I did not know him well. He was a classmate of my sons. He was always the biggest and strongest boy in his grade by far. His physical presence dominated but academics were a challenge.

Derek’s only route to the NHL was as a fighter. Yet even his skills as a fighter were modest. He took a lot of punishment.

I was actually surprised that he reached the NHL. My experience with enforcers, I find goons too simplistic a term, is that they are among the most thoughtful of players. Their intimidations were calibrated. Fighting had a lesser role than sticks and elbows. Derek was never going to be that analytical.

He reached the NHL at a unique moment. Fighting had become a ritual of combat in the league between designated players on every team. I am grateful that form of battle has faded from the league.

I agree there should be harsh penalties for headshots. On whether fighting should be banned from hockey I remain ambivalent, probably inconsistent.
(My discussion on the issue of violence in hockey is continued in the next post.)


  1. You make such a strong point here, Bill, about the relationship between lawyers and people. I think a lot of law students (and I speak without any sophistication here, not being an attorney) aren't really prepared for the interactions they'll have with individual clients and other real, genuine people. And that has consequences that go beyond just the awkwardness of working with your first real human being as a client. It has to do with what the profession really represents. And it's interesting that, in smaller communities, that relationship (lawyer to people) is a real focus.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I believe other professional colleges through internships and co-ops and practicums do better than colleges of law in having students learn to interact with people. For most people the lawyer they personally know is neither a corporate nor government lawyer but their lawyer in a small firm.