Illustration of a microphone used for podcasting

The 2020 Precedent Innovation Awards: Law in the Time of COVID-19

A podcast that updates listeners on the ongoing legal implications of the coronavirus crisis
Illustration of a microphone used for podcasting

In March, the coronavirus pandemic threw the legal system into a state of upheaval. As the nationwide lockdown forced businesses to close down and furlough staff, lawyers had to oversee the fallout. When the government implemented sweeping emergency measures, it was lawyers who had to absorb the implications in an instant. Trials and hearings, meanwhile, were adjourned; over time, some moved onto Zoom. The world was changing at a breathtaking pace.

Adam Goldenberg

Adam Goldenberg

Adam Goldenberg, a litigation associate at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, understood that reliable information was more important than ever. “None of us had experienced anything like this before,” he says. “There was a real hunger for insight on the legal dimensions of how to respond to the pandemic.”

To help fill that information gap, he wanted to tackle pandemic-related legal questions in an easy-to-digest format that wouldn’t add to people’s growing screen time. Naturally, he settled on a podcast. He pitched the idea to the firm’s COVID-19 response team, and he received the green light to charge ahead.

Goldenberg was thrilled — and terrified. “I knew how to put a case together,” he says, “but I didn’t know how to put a podcast together.” He went down a rabbit hole of online tutorials, bought a USB microphone on Amazon and tinkered with audio programs like GarageBand and Audacity.

By March 20, his podcast, Law in the Time of COVID-19, officially dropped. The first episode featured a 15-minute interview with three strategic advisors at McCarthys — including Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec — on how the federal and provincial governments might respond to the crisis. Goldenberg spent eight hours on the production, labouring over the smallest details. (The trickiest part was getting the music to fade in and out just right.) “This is me being a perfectionist,” he says. “I wanted each episode to be of a consistent quality.”

In total, Goldenberg has released about three episodes a month. In each one, he covers a different topic, such as the future of commercial leasing and how lawyers can maintain client confidentiality while working at home. (Some episodes are CPD-accredited in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.) He interviews both colleagues at his firm and outside experts. “One of the nice things about this podcast,” says Goldenberg, “is that it’s something our whole firm can participate in.”

His perfectionism has paid off. The sound is crisp and clean. The interviews are engaging. And Goldenberg’s monologue at the beginning of every episode hooks the listener in with accessible language set over peppy music that, yes, fades in and out quite nicely.

As the host, Goldenberg never lets conversations get too wonky. “He can connect some very nebulous, archaic legal concepts into real-life applications,” says Miranda Lam, a McCarthys partner. “Adam has a real mastery over how to make something hard easy.”

Don’t forget to read about our other Innovation Award winners.

This is a story from our Winter 2020 Issue.

Illustrations by Ashley Wong. Photo courtesy of McCarthy Tétrault LLP.