Patric Senson // 2015 Precedent Setter Awards

Meet the lawyer who ditched his career in journalism to defend society's most vulnerable

By John Lorinc

On Tuesday May 26th, 2015

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Patric Senson

Associate, Phillips Gill LLP
Called to the bar in 2012
Law school: University of Toronto

In 2006, at 37, Patric Senson decided to re-boot a successful career in science journalism that began with a master’s in microbiology and led to working as a producer at CBC Radio’s Quirks & Quarks. While Senson enjoyed the intellectual challenge of explaining complex concepts to a wide audience, the material lacked a human element. So he headed to law school. “I wanted to get to a place where I was using the same skill set, but doing so in a way where I could see a day-to-day impact,” he says. “For me, it’s really about the people.”

Since graduating from the University of Toronto’s law faculty in 2011, Senson has developed a civil litigation practice at Phillips Gill that draws on his communication skills and his ability to connect with clients. He is particularly passionate about working with society’s most vulnerable. Through Ontario’s Office of the Children’s Lawyer, for example, he often represents minors in custody and child protection cases.

http://www.jaimehogge.comSenson recently appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in a case that gave the RCMP the right to collective bargaining. And he’s part of a team that’s suing the Canadian government on behalf of former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr, on the basis that the state did nothing to prevent, and was thus complicit in, his confinement and torture. “This is a case about how Canada treats its own young people,” he says. “Our government has sprung to the defence of child soldiers in other circumstances and yet, in this case, have abandoned this child.”

Senson is satisfied with where his career jumps have taken him. Reflecting, after a vacation in Mexico with his husband of three years, he can see the day-to-day impact he has on his clients, especially the vulnerable LGBTQ youth he comes across through his work with the OCL. “I’m open about my sexuality,” he says. “It allows them to see that being a gay man does not automatically mean you can’t have a successful happy life.”


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Photography by Jaime Hogge; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Spin Toronto