The Discovery: A lawyer rewrites your favourite fairy tales

Farr & Beyond illustration

Farr & Beyond LLP: Lawyers for the Otherworldly reimagines the Big Bad Wolf not as a villain, but a contractor with a strong legal argument

As Kenneth Smookler watched Cinderella at the ballet four years ago, he had a thought. “Cinderella’s family had her scrubbing floors and cooking,” recalls the 87-year-old retired lawyer. “But now, they’ve lost her to the prince.” His legal imagination took off. He worried that Cinderella might have signed a contract with her stepmother to perform housework. If so, the stepmother could file a suit to keep Cinderella from doing similar work for the prince. For fun, Smookler wrote Cinderella a letter, explaining her rights.

He saw legal issues in other fairy tales. “The Three Bears had a trespasser for heaven’s sake!” he says. He wrote his ideas down.

His wife, Fran, saw his work and told a friend, whose son is an editor at book publisher Wall & Emerson. This past winter, Farr & Beyond LLP: Lawyers for the Otherworldly hit bookstores. It’s full of legal documents that relate to the caseload of a firm that represents fairy tale characters. For example: the Big Bad Wolf, whom Smookler reimagines as a contractor who thinks the Three Little Pigs’ homes aren’t up to code. In a letter to the city’s planning commission, counsel for the wolf states: “My client is the owner of the Huff-n-Puff demolition company and is prepared to blow these houses down.”

This story is from our Spring 2017 issue.




Illustration by Ryan Howe

The Docket: Five new books that will satisfy anyone on your gift list

Ben McNally knows books. And well he should, as the owner of Ben McNally Books, a cozy bookstore nestled in the throbbing heart of King and Bay. McNally opened his doors in 2007, then admirably rode out the 2008 recession while bookstores around him were dropping like flies. He credits this success to his Bay Street clientele: “sophisticated and curious” suited types who come to his store for a well-curated selection of non-fiction and literature they can’t find elsewhere.

And McNally’s vast knowledge of the best in books is available for rent. Companies — Torkin Manes LLP, for example — hire him for events, where he’ll introduce 25 books in 25 minutes. It’s a rundown of the season’s best new titles, to help you cut through the clutter and buy for the readers on your list.

We asked McNally to hone that list down to five top picks for 2015. Consider your holiday shopping half done.


The-Witches The Witches by Stacy Schiff
“A meticulous account of the Salem Witch trials of 1692, an almost unbelievable episode in American history. Riveting.”



Drinking in AmericaDrinking In America by Susan Cheever
“Cheever recounts the extraordinary influence alcohol has had on American history, from Plymouth Rock to modern presidents.”



Laws of MedicineThe Laws of Medicine by Siddhartha Mukherjee
“The Pulitzer Prize-winning oncologist offers a pithy, unvarnished view of the world from the physician’s chair.”




Katherine CarlyleKatherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson
“A haunting novel in which a young woman abandons her life to explore places unknown. Thomson never disappoints.”



Did You Ever Have a FamilyDid You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

“An accomplished, moving story of an accident and its consequences, revealed through the eyes of participants and witnesses.”



Winter-2015-cover-smallThis story is from our Winter 2015 issue.

Trial & Error: Essential reading for the junior lawyer

Are you seeking inspiration, insights or talking points? Check out my list of essential reads for the junior lawyer —four that have profoundly impacted my practice: 

1. Chris Hadfield’s an Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

It’s not a book about law, but there are many takeaways that apply to any ambitious lawyer, such as the value of working hard and parking your ego. The biggest lesson I gleaned from this book was to plan for every contingency. I found myself reflecting on this advice earlier this year as I geared up for my first trial. I considered all possible permeations and equipped myself appropriately. I came prepared with materials that my team may need in the face of possible objections and while I did not think of everything, I was able to plan for most contingencies and add a great deal of value to the trial team. 

2. The Rules of Civil Procedure (or whatever legislation is most relevant to your practice)

Phil Moore, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of TD Bank Group, advised me as an articling student to read the Canadian Business Corporations Act cover to cover… in one sitting. He explained that in so doing, I would obtain insight into the contents and structure of the statute. Regardless of your area of practice, I firmly believe his advice holds true. I recently familiarized myself with the most relevant legislation to my practice, Rules of Civil Procedure, which has helped me immensely. With a thorough understanding of the Rules, I know exactly where to turn when I face new issues in my practice. 

3. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

This one is worth the buzz. The messaging in this book is essential for all junior lawyers. There are many useful nuggets in this book, and I’ve previously shared one in my article on how to properly take a vacation. Lean In is packed with so much practical wisdom that I could write an entire column about this book alone.

4. Daily news

You’ll hear it often in your career that reading the news is important. It took me a few road trips with colleagues and a handful of awkward elevator rides to truly understand the necessity of being current with the daily news. Being current not only provides you with a litany of talking points to fill elevator silences, but it also deepens your perspective of the world around you. 

Notable mentions:

While I haven’t yet carved the time out to read these books, they came highly recommended by my colleagues and sit on my current “to-read” list:

  • Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer by Grover Cleveland. This book was provided by Osler to all of its first year associates.
  • Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future by Richard Susskin. This one describes what the future of technology has in store for lawyers.

Got any other great must-reads? Let me know

Atrisha Lewis is a second-year associate in McCarthy Tétrault’s litigation group. Follow her on Twitter: @atrishalewis