Feature: Irresistible photos of lawyers and their dogs

Not sure you can fit a dog into your busy schedule? Think a high-maintenance mutt is just as likely to wake you up in the middle of the night as a client?

These five lawyers and their fetching four-legged pals might convince you otherwise. Once you see those puppy dog eyes, you’ll be buying kibble in no time.

Lee Lenkinski with Mordy

Lee Lenkinski

with Mordechai (Mordy), the Australian Shepherd

Year of call: 2012
Firm: Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Practice area: Health law
Neighbourhood: Yonge & Lawrence
Dog walker: Yes, Monday to Friday.

When Lenkinski picked out Mordy, he was prepping for trial. “I probably didn’t do my homework,” he says. He and his wife, Emma Gregg, an in-house counsel at Travelers Canada, soon found out how high-maintenance Australian shepherds can be. But he couldn’t help but love the barking ball of energy. “He’s a good dude — and he’s a good snuggler.”






Gillian Stacey with McLovin and Clementine

Gillian Stacey

with McLovin, the Border Terrier and Clementine, the Victorian Bulldog

Year of call: 1994
Firm: Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Practice area: Private mergers and acquisitions
Neighbourhood: The Beaches
Dog walker: Yes, five days a week. “That’s the only way it works.” “When I got her, she was bigger than McLovin,” says Stacey, pointing to 85-pound Clementine (named after Winston Churchill’s wife). And yet, the small border terrier is definitely the boss. “She’s a shy dog and he’s a total alpha.”






Joshua Freeman with Duke

Joshua Freeman

with Duke, the Australian Labradoodle

Year of call: 2008
Firm: Fogler, Rubinoff LLP
Practice area: Civil and commercial litigation
Neighbourhood: Yonge & St. Clair. “There are a lot of parks,” says Freeman. “They’re not supposed to be dog parks, but they get taken over. It’s a very
dog-friendly area.”
Dog walker: No — his wife, Kelly, works close to home, so she drops by during the day to walk Duke.

“Apparently they’ve been breeding labradoodles for a long time in Australia, so they have a consistent demeanour,” says Freeman of his calm, well-behaved dog. “I think he’s probably just a labradoodle that has a funny accent.”






Embie Edgar-Chana and Aaron Edgar with Coco and Rio

Aaron Edgar & Ambie Edgar-Chana

with Coco & Rio, both Chihuahuas

Year of call: both in 2007
Firm: Edgar Chana Law
Practice area: Trusts, estates, charities and patents
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Dog walker: No. The pups go to work with their owners most days, so they tire themselves out at the office.

“A few years back, a friend had bought four Chihuahuas,” says Chana-Edgar. “She asked me to look after them for the weekend. Aaron said, ‘Don’t fall in love with those animals.’” But after a few days. . . “We fell in love,” says Edgar, who quickly agreed to adopt two of them (four pups were too many for their friend).






Web exclusive: Behind-the-scenes photos

Check out our behind-the-scenes photos from our photo shoot with our five lawyers and their precious pups!

Spring 2016: Behind-the-scenes photos of lawyers and their dogs

This story is from our Spring 2016 issue.

Photography by Jaime Hogge

On the Record: Why @BadLegalLLP is the one firm you should be following on Twitter

It turns out, being a lawyer is hilarious. At least that’s the only conclusion one can make after scrolling through the Twitter feed of Bad Legal LLP, a bogus law firm whose tweets lampoon the absurdities of lawyer life. The comedy ranges from the light-hearted (lawyers suck at technology) to the pitch-black (most legal careers are soul-sucking). And the anonymous talent behind the tweets is clearly Toronto-based: it pokes fun at Bay Street firms and lawyers that have appeared in this very magazine (see Rob “Centaur,” below). If only all lawfirm Twitter accounts were this interesting.

How Bad Legal’s followers stack up to “real” law firms

WeirFoulds LLP

Aird & Berlis LLP   1,622 followers

Aird & Berlis LLP







Bereskin & Parr LLP

Bad Legal LLP







Torys LLP








Pick of the Twitter

Seven of the best tweets from @BadLegalLLP:

On recruitment

Time to walk around the office and give false hope to articling students I have no intention of hiring back. #motivation

On diversity

Deeply disappointed that only 12/20 Toronto benchers are old white men #LSBencher

On education

Good luck to those writing the Ont. bar tomorrow. It’s a long, pointless test that prepares you well for your long, pointless careers

On work-life balance

Working at our office is exactly like #Suits except we spend 16 hours a day at our computer and nobody works out regularly

On articling students

I am renting out my articling students for use in HOV lanes during the Pan Am Games

On self-esteem

Dear law students, how you fare in the hiring process for summer associate positions is a direct indicator of your worth as a human being

On innovation

So sick of this myth that lawyers don’t understand tech. I can hyperlink with the best of them

Bonus tweet: Other times, the satire on @BadLegalLLP gives way to bad Photoshop, typified in this playful jab at Rob Centa, the managing partner of Paliare Roland LLP.

Rob Centaur





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

The Circuit: 20 years of Patricia Olasker’s wild AIDSbeat costumes

I always thought of myself as part of the decor,” says Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP lawyer Patricia Olasker of her epic AIDSbeat costumes. This from the senior corporate-group partner who founded the annual fundraiser — a massive charity event that has since raised nearly $4 million for AIDS research.

“The first year was painful,” she recalls of the event launch in 1996, when Olasker was the managing partner at McMillan LLP. “We raised $15,000, which was about one-tenth of our combined billing rates invested.” Back then, it was hard to secure sponsors: companies didn’t want to have their names attached to the AIDS crisis. But eventually things turned around as young Toronto
lawyers started to catch wind that AIDSbeat was an all-out, costumed, battle-of-thebands rager.

“People love a costume party,” Olasker says. “They love the opportunity to step outside of themselves and be someone else.” And that includes Olasker herself. As chair of the event for the first 18 years, she’s been known to rock the most elaborate costume in the room.

“I had to dress the part,” she says. “It was part of the job. It’s just in my nature to go the whole nine yards. It’s pretty fun to dress up as a showgirl or a ringmaster. When do you get a chance to do that in your life?”

Olasker stepped down from the helm last year. “It was a hard thing to do. It’s like putting your child in the hands of strangers.”

But looking back on what she started — an event that drew 1,750 guests at its peak and raises over $300,000 every year — Olasker has to smile. “I think it’s my best work.”

Precedent looks back at some of AIDSbeat founder Patricia Olasker’s best looks

Patricia Olasker

Olasker’s all-time favourite costume? The hippie. “I felt more at home in that, because I was one. I could actually relate to the era in a deeply personal way.”

Patricia Olasker

Patricia Olasker with a body model in 2007










Patricia Olasker

Olasker with artist Tina Clare at this year’s rock-themed event

Patricia Olasker

Olasker goes go-go in 2006

Rock & Roll Circus in 2013

Rock & Roll Circus in 2013

Rock & Roll Circus in 2013

Rock & Roll Circus in 2013

AIDSbeat Las Vegas in 2011

AIDSbeat Las Vegas in 2011



First photo and bottom two photos by Spencer Xion, remaining photos courtesy of Patricia Olasker.

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

News: What’s behind the shrinking pool of Bay Street articling jobs?

For students, the hireback stats look pretty scary. Back in 2009, Precedent surveyed the Toronto law offices that hired the most articling students to find out how many they hired back as first-year associates. Each year, we ask again and report those numbers online in our Hireback Watch. Over the last year, the number of articling jobs at the 16 offices that traditionally hire the most students fell from 297 to 282. Worse still, those numbers don’t include students from Heenan Blaikie LLP, which collapsed in February and, of course, won’t be hiring students in the future.

“If I were a law student looking for work on Bay Street, I would not find any of this encouraging,” says Jordan Furlong, legal consultant at Edge International. For the past 40 years, he explains, clients have blindly paid big legal fees for the work of students, at least in part. Now, that era is over: clients want lower costs, and they don’t think students, who spend most of their time completing routine legal tasks, are worth the money. For that reason, Furlong predicts that the number of articling gigs on Bay Street will continue to decline. “Firms everywhere are coming to the belated realization that they, not their clients, have to pay for student training.”

But the shrinking articling pool is only half the story: the proportion of articling students hired back is on the rise. This year, those 16 offices hired back 78 percent of students, up from 73 percent a year ago. In fact, the total number of students hired back remains steady, with 200 making the cut this year, compared to 204 in 2013.

A consistent influx of junior associates “means that firms are still looking to identify and invest in young talent,” says Adam Lepofsky, president and founder of the legal recruiting firm RainMaker Group. Despite the fall of Heenan Blaikie, stable hireback numbers indicate that firms “are optimistic about the next few years.”

Beyond hireback numbers, Lepofsky hopes recent growth in the American legal market — New York and California, in particular — will spill over into Canada within a year. “I’m getting demands from clients in the States that I haven’t gotten in a long time,” he says. “And generally our economy will follow the U.S. economy, especially in the business of law.”

The demand for legal work is hardly drying up, says Furlong. But that demand is not for junior lawyers — it’s for seasoned partners. As firms cut articling jobs, he says they’ll hire fewer first-years. The hireback rate could stay high, but Furlong expects the number of new lawyers on Bay Street to decline. “Firms are still overlawyered.” 

Bay Street looks bearish

In 2009, Blakes, Davies, McCarthys, Osler and Stikemans took on the most articling students at their Toronto offices. Since then, they’ve shed a combined 47 jobs, but the hireback rate at those firms has jumped up by 10 percent.

Toronto Articling Jobs










The biggest players, then and now

Toronto offices with the most students in 2009
Osler — 33
Stikemans — 33
Blakes — 29
McCarthys — 28
Davies — 22

Toronto offices with the most students in 2014
Blakes — 29
Torys — 25
Stikemans, Norton Rose — 20
BLG, McCarthys, Cassels — 19 

For a detailed rundown of all the numbers, check out our Hireback Watch 2014 chart.

Precedent Setter Awards 2014: Alexi Wood

Alexi Wood





















Alexi Wood

Associate, Davis LLP
Called to the bar in 2007

For Alexi Wood, advocating for social justice wasn’t so much a calling as a compulsion. “It’s something that’s just ingrained in my fabric,” she says.

Consider her current case. Almost three years ago, Clare Endicott filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, saying the police violated her privacy when they misled her neighbour to believe she was about to commit suicide. Endicott’s complaint was dismissed, so she asked the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to appeal. The CCLA asked Wood to seek a judicial review, pro bono, as lead counsel. But before the case was heard, something strange happened: the director refused to disclose any information — emails, meeting notes — related to the decision.

So, Wood had to convince the court she had a right to that information. She won. And then won again at the Ontario Court of Appeal, triggering a decision that will have sweeping implications. “On the surface, it seems like a dry, picky case of administrative law,” says Wood. “But at its core, this case is about the public interest and accountability of our regulatory bodies.”

Wood has a hard time not lending her support to a worthy cause. While earning her undergrad (a BA in history), she volunteered with Planned Parenthood. In law school at the University of Cincinnati, she interned
 at the United Nations’ High Commission
 for Human Rights. She’s also on the board of directors for the Starfish Greenhearts Foundation, a non-profit that helps children impacted by AIDS in South Africa.

Now an associate at Davis, Wood remains passionate about social justice, but is equally passionate about litigation. “I love the law and love what I do,” she says. Her contributions to the profession are many, including teaching, mentoring and judging moot courts.
And if her arsenal of experience weren’t intimidating enough, consider the leisure-time activity she recently took up with
her partner: fencing. “It’s a great cardio workout,” she says. “Plus, it’s just cool to have swords in your house.”

Precedent Setter Award Winners

Don’t forget to read about our other spectacular winnersand have a look at our behind-the-scenes pics from the cover shoot.





Photography by Anya Chibis; Hair and makeup by Shawna Lee; Shot on location at Lightform, Toronto