While Prince Albert’s newest lawyers come from a variety of backgrounds, there is one thing they all have in common – it’s taken them years to get to where they were Friday.
That’s when the five newest inductees to the bar were sworn in at Court of Queen’s Bench. In an afternoon ceremony in front of justices G.A. Meschishnick and L.W. Zuk, Julia Quigley, Conor James Holash, Monika Goyal, MaryAnne Lady-Jane Larson and Daniel Elliot Samuel Arnot were welcomed into the legal profession.
Each of them had already officially become a lawyer when they signed the roll in Regina, a list of every lawyer practicing or formerly practicing in Saskatchewan.
But Friday’s ceremony marked the end of their admission into the profession.
“It feels very nice. It’s a long time coming,” said Holash, who was born and raised in Prince Albert.
“I signed the rolls six months ago, so I’ve been a lawyer from that point on. It’s been exciting since day one.”
Holash was never pushed to be a lawyer. It’s a direction he decided to take a few years after getting his undergraduate degree.
“It felt right and it was a very useful degree whether I used it or not. Low and behold, I ended up using it.”
Holash was introduced by Barry Wilcox, who works with his dad, Mitch Holash, at Novus law firm.
“Conor grew up in Prince Albert in a home with a lawyer as a father. Against all odds, that did not dissuade him from the practice of law,” Wilcox joked.
Holash, he said, is a sharp young lawyer, achieving the highest mark on this year’s admission test.
Holash though won’t be practicing law in Prince Albert for long. He’s accepted a position at a firm in Edmonton in order to be closer to his girlfriend.
“It’s bittersweet to be leaving,” he said.
“I feel like I could spend 30 years working with dad and not gain all the experience he has.”
Holash wasn’t the only one with parents involved in the justice system. Fellow inductees Quigley and Arnot also come from legal families.
Quigley articled at the northern legal aid office, and was described by Judge E.M. Layton as “very smart, incredibly intelligent.” She has a go-get-it- attitude and the common sense to see through the smoke and mirrors.
“She’s a very spirited person,” Layton said. “We were very lucky to have her.”
In her introduction, Quigley was described as involved and academically successful. She took a term of school at the University of Norway, worked in public complaints and graduated from law school with great distinction.
Arnot, who is from Saskatoon, has already gotten himself involved in Prince Albert, joining the Kinsmen Club and sitting on the Mann Art Gallery board of directors. He’s practicing with the Arnot Heffernan Slobodian firm in Prince Albert and is happy to be staying in the gateway city.
“I love Prince Albert,” he said.
“I think there’s a lot of need for people who … understand the needs of the community and are committed to the people who are here. Prince Albert is a fantastic place to live. The north is right here and the people are warm and welcoming. It’s a fantastic place to practice.”
While Arnot takes inspiration from his father, who served as a judge before Arnot was born, he didn’t decide to become a lawyer until later in life.
“I feel truly honoured and privileged to become a member of the legal profession,” he said. “It’s taken the better part of nine years to get here.”
Brent Slobodian, who introduced Arnot to the court, said he was “very pleased” Arnot has decided to continue working at the law office.
Arnot finished his bachelor of arts while on exchange and later went to Dalhousie for aw school.
“His success in Univerity reflects his intelligence, his diligence and his ability to absorb and advise large amounts of information,” Slobodian said.
“Daniel easily builds rapport. He is described as being too the point, and a lawyer who is caring and gets the job done. I have no doubt he will be an effective advocate for his clients.”
The other two inductees introduced Friday have a little more life experience at their disposal.
Larson has been working at the Prince Albert Crown prosecutions office and originally received her law degree in 1996. She articled in Wetaskiwin before taking 16 years off to raise her children.
Larson is from Edmonton and went to school in Cardiff, Wales.
Now that her children are older, Larson “has decided that she wants to re-enter the profession,” said fellow crown prosecutor John Morrall.
“She has chosen our office. We are grateful. She’s a hardworking, intelligent and efficient individual.”
Goyal, meanwhile, has joined Kirkby Fourie Coertze, or as Gord Kirkby jokingly called it Friday, KFC.
“He’s intellectual and hardworking. We’re deeply honoured to have her with us,” he said.
This isn’t Goyal’s first foray into the legal profession. She was born, raised and schooled in India. She got her law degree in 2011 and interned with the chief justice of India.
From there, she joined a multinational company as an associate lawyer, assisting companies like Nike and Columbia Sportswear. After marrying a pharmacist who was working in Prince Albert, she articled at Kirkby Fourie Coertze and now received her license to practice law in Saskatchewan. She is also licensed to practice in Ontario.
While the new lawyers were introduced by other lawyers who had worked by their sides, they were all sent off into the legal world by the Queen’s Bench and provincial judges in attendance.
“This is a happy occasion for the legal profession in Saskatchewan, and I’m honoured to be a part of it, Meschishnick said.
“the reality today is recognition … that these people have done it. They’ve graduated, articled, a=passed (the exam) and earned the right to be introduced to this court as a lawyer.”
Fellow Queen’s Bench Judge Zuk had advice for the newly-minted lawyers.
“This is the beginning of a long journey within the profession,” he said.
“This journey combines some steep climbs, sharp curves and its share of drop-offs. Up until now, you had to only work for yourself. Now, you are centred on your client. You have an obligation to represent each client to the best of your ability and to meet their expectations in a highly cost-effective and successful manner. You will have to do so within the law and ethical principles. All the while, you may mind … like many things in life, the easier path is seldom the correct one to take.”
Zuk said it’s impossible to predict how the profession will change in the next 40 years, as it has changed immensely since he started out as a lawyer 40 years ago. He said there will be technological change, changes in the law and changes regarding access to the justice system. Still, he said, there are a few things all lawyers must do.
“You are in an enviable position today. You are just beginning your second journey as lawyers,” Zuk said.
He challenged them to solve clients’ problems effectively and to go out and make a difference in their communities.
“Help us … maintain confidence in the justice system.”