This lawyer is a popular singer in the Netherlands // Secret Life

How Suzanne Jarvie launched a career as a folk singer (without quitting her law job)

By Jessica Patterson

On Wednesday September 4th, 2019

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Suzanne Jarvie
Law Society of Ontario

Suzanne Jarvie’s childhood was full of music. As a youngster, she took piano lessons; in her teenage years, she picked up the guitar. “I always loved playing instruments,” says Jarvie, counsel at the Law Society of Ontario. “But I was never a songwriter. On the rare occasion that I tried to write music, it never turned out too well.”

It took a tragic life event to unleash her inner composer. In 2011, her son, who was 14 years old at the time, fell down a spiral staircase, suffering a traumatic head injury that sent him into a coma. One week after the accident, he started to regain consciousness and, over time, he made an astonishing recovery. During this difficult period, Jarvie turned to her guitar. “I started writing like crazy. I wrote at home, I wrote at the hospital. My sorrow was leaking out of me through music.”

Those songs helped her to launch a career in music. In 2014, Jarvie released her first album, Spiral Road, a haunting blend of folk music, roots and traditional country. And in January, she put out a second album, In the Clear. Her music has a small following in the Canadian country scene, but, to her surprise, both albums have been smash hits in the Netherlands. Over the past five years, she’s performed four tours throughout Europe.

Though she’s a professional musician, Jarvie is still busy at the Law Society, where she represents the regulator in disciplinary hearings. Her new-found talent for songwriting has even made her a more confident litigator. “When I’m writing a song, I don’t have a road map. I’m able to create without a plan,” she says. “At work, I’m now more inclined to think outside of the box. If something unexpected arises, I’m comfortable innovating on the fly to figure it out.”


This story is from our Fall 2019 Issue.


Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth ; makeup by Michelle Calleja.