Ian Binnie’s advice to young lawyers — forget it all // The Circuit

In a frank and comical speech, the former Supreme Court Justice shares his wisdom with young lawyers

By Lisa Coxon

On Tuesday May 3rd, 2016

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What: The 4th Annual Toronto Lawyers Association Bench and Bar Young Lawyers Soirée
Where: The TLA Courthouse Library
When: Thursday, April 28, 2016


“He really needs no introduction,” began Stephen Mullings, the president of the Toronto Lawyers Association. “This evening, once again, he donates his time generously and his stories with us.”

He was referring to Ian Binnie, a former Supreme Court Justice now working at Lenczner Slaght. The legendary lawyer was set to speak to about 140 junior lawyers at the TLA’s annual Bench and Bar Young Lawyers Soirée. And, when he spoke, his remarks drew on his five-decade career.

“The advice I offer, having listened to a lot of advice over 50 years, is really that none of it is any good,” he said to a collective chuckle. “You’re far better off to throw away pre-conceptions. If you have a playbook as to how your career is going to develop, just forget about it because it’s not going to happen.”

Perhaps most importantly, Binnie went on, young lawyers need to be self-interested.“You, and you alone, are responsible for your career,” he said, before warning those in the audience that law firms will look after their own interests over those of young associates. “If you don’t grab a hold of your career and make your own decisions and look closely at whether you are achieving what you hoped to achieve, and you look back, as I do, from 50 years through the rear mirror, you’ve only yourself to blame.”


To learn more about the Toronto Lawyers Association, visit the TLA website.


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 Photography by Yvonne Bambrick