Canadian Lawyer

November 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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12 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED IN THE CANADIAN legal drama Diggstown, a Black lawyer from Nova Scotia leaves her high-powered corporate job to work for a legal aid clinic in her home province. The CBC drama's third season premiered in October, and its creator, executive producer and showrunner, Floyd Kane, is also a lawyer from Nova Scotia. Kane shares other similarities with his lead character, including having grown up Black in Nova Scotia and later leaving a stable legal job to pursue his passion. "I was from a poor family. The idea of being a lawyer meant you would be able to work, you'd get a job, you would be gainfully employed and you wouldn't be homeless," says Kane. Despite Kane's practical considerations, he also had creative impulses starting from a young age. When an aunt gave him a type- writer in grade seven, he wrote a novel. He began his undergraduate degree studying commerce but quickly transferred to English, still wanting to write. After completing that degree, Kane enrolled at Dalhousie's law school, hoping to merge his interests and become an enter- tainment lawyer. Kane knew that a few Nova Scotia firms did entertainment law, but he was also aware that there were virtually no Black lawyers at these firms at the time. So, he articled at the Toronto office of Blake, Cassels and Graydon. "I had no desire or aspiration to ever move to Toronto and article at a big law firm," says Kane. He enjoyed his articling experience representing another company, it's weird for them to see you coming in and pitching them as a creative person." In 2010, he launched his own film company, Freddie Films Inc. In that role, he produced 2015's film Across the Line, which he also wrote. But the turning point in his career came when CBC gave Diggstown the green light. "I don't think anyone took me seriously as a writer in Canada until that show premiered." While Kane is finally doing what he aspired to do since he started writing in grade 7 with his typewriter, he also misses legal practice. "I miss the negotiating part of being an entertainment lawyer. I love that part of the job, the problem-solving." However, Kane's legal background is still helpful in how he approaches the topics covered in Diggstown. In its third season, the show tackles topics including a care worker charged with assault, a sexual assault case in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, a class-action suit against Nova Scotia's "birth alert" policy, A FRESH TAKE DRAMATIZING THE LAW Floyd Kane spent years as an entertainment lawyer before his big break: his own legal drama on the CBC but still aspired to work in entertainment law. Kane returned to Nova Scotia to work on the political campaign of Yvonne Atwell, the first Black woman elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1998. Then, the stars aligned, and Kane joined Halifax-based Salter Street Films as in-house legal counsel from 1999 to 2003. He then became vice president of creative and business affairs at The Halifax Film Company until 2006 and DHX Media until 2010. Kane loved his role as an entertainment lawyer, but his creative impulses still moti- vated him to write. He spent his days negoti- ating contracts and his nights writing scripts. "The writing was easy," says Kane. "My workday would end at 7:30 pm. At night, I would go home, have dinner, go to the gym and then write until two or three in the morning. That was the way that my life was organized." What Kane found challenging was being seen as a creative person while officially a lawyer. "When you're working for a company as a lawyer, and you're interacting with broad- casters and other producers as a lawyer "My workday would end at 7:30 pm. At night, I would go home, have dinner, go to the gym and then write until two or three in the morning. That was the way that my life was organized."

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