Canadian Lawyer

August 2023

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 13 of 51

12 FEATURE CROSS EXAMINED HELPING ADVOCATES EXCEL FROM THE OUTSET When Vicki White became The Advocates' Society's CEO, she was excited to broaden its reach to help more litigators succeed IN 2018, Vicki White put aside her stick in exchange for a carrot. After 10 years as co-director of the legal office at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, White became the chief executive officer of The Advocates' Society. While both organizations aim to improve the conduct of professionals, TAS's methods are less harsh. "When you're on the prosecution side, you're dealing with physicians or professionals who are in crisis, and you are wielding a stick, in that case, that is somewhat limited," White says. "I thought it would be a really interesting opportunity to go at this from the other side, which is supporting professionals." Through educational and community support, White says TAS ensures litigators and other advocates are "working in the best possible standard rather than ending up at the other end with a stick." Much of TAS's training comes from litigators at the top of their game. "It's a thing to behold when you see these really high-profile folks who could be going off to represent some very important clients and instead are coming down to teach cross-examination to a group of 12 new litigators who are just cutting their teeth," says White. Since she joined TAS, White has led the 6,000-member, not-for-profit, national organization of litigators through several initiatives to help improve the justice system and how lawyers work in it. TAS was well known for providing hands-on training well before White's tenure, but her vision was to ensure it "was truly a place for all advocates, no matter what your background, no matter what your area of practice, no matter where you live in the country." While the pandemic shift to virtual education helped eliminate many of the geographical barriers that TAS's traditional in-person meetings inevitably created, White says she now sees broader benefits to the national focus. "It's made us more connected and stronger. So, we still do lots of in-person programs, but we still do lots of Zoom programming. We do lots of programming that connects people from coast to coast." W h i t e o v e r s aw a t a s k f o r c e t h a t examined TAS's national outreach and developed and implemented strategies, p ro gra m s, a n d e ven ts to s tren gthen communities of advocates beyond Ontario. As she re-invigorated and connected a nationwide network of advocates, TAS saw its highest-ever growth in membership outside of Ontario. The broadening reach across the country also meant that TAS members could identify "That report [on court delays], I believe, is so much stronger because we have advocates across the country who are identifying extreme issues everywhere. This is not a localized small problem. This is a national systemic crisis"

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