The Insider: Five lawyers who refuse to give up on BlackBerry

When Waterloo-based company Research in Motion (RIM) released the BlackBerry on January 19, 1999, it thrust the world into the smartphone era. The iconic keyboard and BBM introduced us to on-the-go emails and instant messaging. We couldn’t get enough.

The BlackBerry cornered the smartphone market for a decade. But in the first quarter of 2009, two years after its release, the iPhone overtook the BlackBerry in market share. And it never looked back. With its gorgeous touchscreen interface and expansive library of apps, the iPhone bewitched consumers. In 2011, RIM was forced to slash 2,000 jobs. The BlackBerry was on the verge of death.

But, thanks to a small band of loyal users, it kept breathing. And, in December 2016, the Chinese smartphone maker Communication Technology Holdings Limited bought the rights to the BlackBerry brand. In a bid to attract new users, it released a new model that ran on the Android operating system, opening the phone up, for the first time, to the app market. Today, there are still faithful users in the legal world. Meet five lawyers who won’t give up on the BlackBerry.

Tom Curry Tom Curry

Managing partner, Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP

Year of call: 1986
Began using BlackBerry in: 2002

Why he loves it so much:
 “I’ve always had a soft spot for BlackBerry because of its connection to Canada. And the phone remains the most secure device on the market. I send and receive a large volume of electronic messages every day. I don’t want to worry about security issues or whether I need to add on another security feature.”


Molly ReynoldsMolly Reynolds

Counsel, Torys LLP

Year of call: 2009
Began using BlackBerry in:

Why she loves it so much: “I love BlackBerry’s ‘Hub.’ It puts all my accounts — email, WhatsApp, social media — in one place, with colour-coded notification lights. I, of course, chose the light-blue notification to indicate emails that have come into my Torys account.”


Diane VieiraDiane Vieira

Partner, de Vries Litigation LLP

Year of call: 2006
Began using BlackBerry in:

Why she loves it so much: “In a few years, the fact that I own a BlackBerry might be akin to those people who pull out Walkmans in the subway. This is not a cool-looking phone. But that’s kind of why I like it. It has no bells and whistles, so it has nothing to attract my toddler kids — it’s great.”


Tycho Manson Tycho Manson

Counsel, Chernos Flaherty Svonkin LLP

Year of call: 1996
Began using BlackBerry in:

Why he loves it so much:
“I used an iPhone for a couple of years, but I went back to a BlackBerry because I love the keyboard. And because it runs on Android, it has good app functionality. Never say never, but I’ll keep using a BlackBerry for the time being.”


Patrick Hartford Patrick Hartford

Founder, NoticeConnect

Year of call: 2016
Began using BlackBerry in:

Why he loves it so much: “I was ready to abandon BlackBerry a year ago, but the newest model, the BlackBerry Motion, has great battery life. The Android operating system is clean and easy to use. The predictive text is also quite good. The only downside is that I’m made fun of for still owning a BlackBerry.”

This story is from our Summer 2018 Issue

Illustration by Kyle Metcalf

Opinion: How to stop workplace misogyny

You’re sitting in a morning strategy meeting on a big file, and the partner asks your colleague whether she’s getting enough sleep. She replies that she just isn’t wearing mascara that day. An awkward silence follows.

You and your mentee are admiring a senior partner who excels at work, raised a family and participates in the community. Your mentee asks how she could possibly do it all. You talk about long days and superhuman energy. Neither of you ask the same question about male senior partners with children.

You’re speculating with your group about who will make partner next. There’s a wealth of talented young women in the pool, but nobody is sure which of them will choose to start a family, or when. This is an accepted factor in the guessing game.

Sound familiar? I have participated in all of these discussions; I’ve even instigated some of the comments. I meant well. I hadn’t set out to contradict my feminist values. And yet I contributed to the harmful stereotypes that women still face in this profession. And even when I didn’t instigate the conversation, I let it happen without interjecting. I was a bystander.

On the national stage, there are success stories, like the lauding of Lerners LLP as one of the first Canadian firms to achieve gender parity. Yet numerous trending hashtags — #VAW, #BeenRapedNeverReported, #ICanNeverBeAJudge, #EverydaySexism, #SuitablyDressed, to name a few — remind us that women are still silenced, discounted and marginalized because their sex and sexuality can be used against them. They remind us of the discrimination women face regardless of their intelligence, education, economic status or work ethic.

But how do these stories, and the problems they expose, affect our everyday practice? Women continue to excel as lawyers and judges. Law societies have been working for years on retaining women in private practice. Law firms, private companies and governments have discrimination and harassment policies. What more can we possibly do?

Our profession needs to revisit its moral imperative to address “small” injustices: everyday sexism, offhand misogyny, casual hints of violence against women.

Lawyers don’t need convincing of this moral imperative. But we’re Type As — we need a plan of action. A closing agenda. A precedent. And lucky for us, there are many precedents. Here is just one.

Toronto’s most prominent LGBTQ organizations have adopted the international Hear It! Stop It! #NoBystanders campaign. It is not a campaign about large-scale law reform, about revolution, about punishing all perpetrators. Rather, it is a campaign that asks us to practice the following credo in the fight for human rights and equality: “I will never be a bystander to homophobic or transphobic language. If I hear it, I will stop it.”

Lawyers can borrow this simple strategy in the effort to treat all our colleagues equally and respectfully. It starts in your office and it starts today. It starts like this:

  • If you hear comments about a colleague’s appearance, challenge the acceptability of those remarks.
  • If you hear concerns about a woman’s ability to manage her files, get back up to speed or make partner after she’s had a child, ask questions about the basis for those views.
  • If you hear rumours about a lawyer’s sexual activity, do what you do best: object on the basis of relevance.

It is not about speaking for women, or being “strong” when the immediate victims choose not to speak out. It’s about speaking up for yourself, and your values of equality. And it’s about listening, educating yourself, engaging others and promoting accountability. It is not about single-handedly ending all violence and discrimination against all women; there is no one prescription for such complex issues. It’s about changing the conversation. No bystanders.

Bystanding Still

This story is from our Summer 2015 issue.




Molly ReynoldsMolly Reynolds is a litigation associate at Torys LLP in Toronto. She’s also the editor of the Ontario Bar Association’s civil litigation newsletter.



Illustration by Sébastien Thibault