Slavishly distracted // Editor's Note

Precedent magazine’s website had a record day in late January. We hit on a topic of such interest to our readers that our site was abuzz with comments and even attracted the attention of The Globe and Mail

By Melissa Kluger

On Tuesday March 6th, 2012

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 Precedent magazine’s website had a record day in late January. We hit on a topic of such interest to our readers that our site was abuzz with comments and even attracted the attention of The Globe and Mail.

You’d think the topic at hand must have been a pressing legal issue. But what was it? A heated debate about whether Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP was out of line when it took out ads in law student newspapers that crossed out the “D” in Davies and replaced it with an “Sl” — Slavies being the firm’s infamous nickname. Underneath, it read: “It’s only half true.”

Outrage ensued. In a letter to the editor of Osgoode’s student paper, one student wrote: “That Davies saw fit to run an ad invoking the shameful, genocidal, dehumanizing practice of forced, unpaid, lifelong labour and suffering that was essential to the power the Western world now enjoys is despicable.”

Davies apologized and said it would stop running the ad. We summed up the debate online and it became a forum for more discussion.

While it’s nice that the legal community feels passionately about the profession, there are numerous other concerns that really, truly deserve a little outrage thrown their way.

In this issue, you’ll read that our government wants to get tougher on crime; but legal professionals say harsher sentences are not the answer. Last issue, we reported that the Law Society’s renewed Justicia Project, which was established to encourage women to stay in private practice, still had no hard numbers and no way to evaluate whether current initia- tives actually work. We’ve also run a story about the failure of the Ontario government to put simple court procedures online — wasting millions and inhibiting access to justice. It is quiet controversies such as these that deserve attention.

So what do I think of the Davies ad? I say the firm deserves credit for poking fun at itself and being a little irreverent. As the editor of a magazine that also aims at irreverence for lawyers, I know how hard this can be.

Does the Slavies moniker make me wish I worked there? Not so much. But I expect the ad will attract the applicants the firm is looking for: students with a sense of humour, who love law and will work their butts off.


At Precedent, we plan to keep on top of important legal topics, and we’re more prepared than ever with a new, energetic team. Making their debut this issue are managing editor Diane Peters and assistant editor Christina Cheung. Regular readers of lawandstyle.ca are already enjoying the great work of our new online editor, Ryan Starr. I am thrilled to be working with this talented crew.

Melissa Kluger
Publisher & Editor / melissa@lawandstyle.ca