Canadian Lawyer 4Students

Spring 2009

Life skills and career tips for Canada's lawyers in training

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COMPILED BY ROBER T TODD TIPS TOP Law and politics are intimately intertwined. Canadian Lawyer 4Students went to four leading political figures to get their take on how law students with political aspirations should position themselves. We asked the following questions: 1. Why did you want to make the transition from law to politics? 2. What's the hardest part of being a politician, and how do you deal with it? 3. What's your advice for a law student with political ambitions? 4. Is there a book you've read that has inspired you in your career? 5. Where's your favourite place to celebrate an election win? Martha Hall Findlay Ontario Liberal MP 1. I had long been interested in where the country was going. Politics was a logical progression for me, to be able to use both my legal and business backgrounds to affect policies I saw as important for Canada. 2. Some find that being under such a public microscope is hard. For me, if you're proud of what you're trying to achieve, and how, the microscope isn't the problem — in fact, it's welcome in highlighting some of the important issues of the day. For me, the hardest part is juggling time. For MPs who want to work hard, there is no shortage of work to be done — constituency matters, events, and communications; standing committees, in which we review and amend legislation; caucus work; party issues; media interviews; writing opinion pieces; giving speeches; meetings with stakeholders. Because of these time demands, the life of an MP is very hard on families — the divorce rate is very high. 3. Get involved and get engaged in anything that interests you. I would counsel against getting involved in party politics too soon. I did not join the Liberal party until 2004 and had not been involved in anything partisan before then. Pick an environmental organization; a public affairs group; join your local ratepayer organization; help a group providing foreign aid; provide legal aid for new immigrants. The list is almost endless, and some kind of community, policy, or advocacy involvement will provide great experience for future political participation. If already keen on a party, get involved in your local riding association. And when an election comes along, go help a candidate you like. 4. Yes, of course, but far too many to pick only one. I loved biographies and autobiographies, and history and historical novels. There are many books about inspiring people meeting extraordinary challenges. 5. It's not the place that matters, but who you are with. No victory can be celebrated without properly thanking the people without whom victory would not have happened. In Willowdale, we have a terrific group of people who work hard and laugh a lot. That is worth celebrating. Michael Bryant Ontario Liberal MPP, minister of Economic Development 1. Law was always a means to the end of a political career, for me. It gave me skills and some experience that has served me well in my work as a local representative and an executive in the government. 2. There is no hardest part other than getting elected in the first place (see below). It's a fantastic calling and there are only opportunities, occasionally disguised as challenges. The harder the challenge, the more fun — for me. 3. You're best to be strategic. First, formulate a plan, determining when and where (geographically and jurisdictionally) you want to run. That involves some homework. Then imagine your future campaign material: imagine what you want it to say. Then execute the plan; fill in those blanks on your imaginary campaign material, gaining community credentials, professional experience, etc. Plus, you must network, network, network — which includes 10 SPRING 2009 4STUDENTS volunteering and fundraising for other politicians and their teams. Amend the plan where necessary. 4. Biographies on Canadian, U.S., and overseas politicians. But my inspiration came from my dad and grandfather, who were both municipal politicians when I was young. 5. The bigger the better. The Sports Cafe at Yonge and [St. Clair] in the great [Toronto] riding of St. Paul's does the trick. For me, it's more about thanking volunteers and family than celebrating a personal achievement. No politician gets elected alone. from the

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