Weekend in Review: Family Law Chambers Advocacy Workshop

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By Jakaeden Frizzell, CPD Program Coordinator

On Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 the Law Society hosted the first ever Family Law Chambers Advocacy Workshop. The workshop featured eight faculty members and twenty-four participants. Our esteemed faculty is listed below:

Chair: The Honourable Madam Justice D.L. Wilson
The Honourable Mr. Justice M.T. Megaw
The Honourable Madam Justice G.V. Goebel
The Honourable Mr. Justice D.J. Brown
Greg Walen, Q.C. (Sharfstein Gibbings Walen & Fisher LLP)
Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. (McDougall Gauley LLP)
Sean Sinclair (Robertson Stromberg LLP)
Jill Drennan (Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission)

In advance of the workshop, attendees were sent a binder of workshop materials and asked to submit an Affidavit and a Notice of Application based off the fact pattern provided. The faculty reviewed these and prepared feedback to be delivered at the workshop.

Day one began with an opening plenary, including an overall perspective about Chambers advocacy generally from Justice Goebel and Justice Megaw, a discussion of how to handle judges and opposing counsel from Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. and Greg Walen, Q.C., and Justice Wilson facilitated a discussion on issue identification. The remainder of the morning focused on feedback from the faculty on the submitted assignments, first in a group setting reviewing anonymized Notice of Applications, then in small group settings discussing Affidavits. Participants really appreciated the detailed feedback gained from these sessions and they were able to follow up with questions in a full group Q&A session after lunch.

The final session of the day featured two rounds of mock oral submissions from Greg Walen, Q.C. & Sherry Fitzsimmons, Q.C. and Sean Sinclair & Jill Drennan, with Justice Wilson presiding. Participants were able to learn by example from experienced counsel and use some of these cues to prepare their own oral submissions for the following day. A group dinner was held at the Hotel Saskatchewan Tea Lounge and the group had the pleasure of listening to Aaron Fox, Q.C. (McDougall Gauley LLP) as he shared experiences and tips related to civility learned throughout his storied career.

The bulk of Saturday gave participants an opportunity to deliver their own oral submissions with a small audience and feedback from faculty to follow. Attendees described this as one of the most valuable parts of the workshop. The day ended with two panel discussions about oral submissions and memorandums of law.

On behalf of the Law Society, I would like to thank everyone involved for contributing to such a successful and educational event. Special thanks go to the Planning Committee for developing the materials, Sean Sinclair for coming up with the idea for this workshop, Justice Wilson for chairing the weekend, and Andrea Johnston (Director of Admissions and Education) for her dedication in developing this program. Stay tuned for the next iteration of the workshop and be sure to register quickly as spots will fill up fast!

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