178 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
but about what the court needed to hear, what would make the judge comfortable
with the decision he or she had to make. Len teaches his juniors
that as counsel, their role is to make the judge’s job easier and to be an
absolutely trusted voice in the courtroom.
There is a familiar pattern to preparing for court or other hearings with
Len. There may be many pre-meetings, but the real work starts late in the
day, as the office has begun to empty out. There might be three or four
alternative arguments on the table, but when Len settles down to focus on
the case at hand, his objective is to identify the one that is right. Into the
late evening (over heavily salted popcorn or some other “grub” of equally
limited nutritional value), Len and his junior debate the facts, the law and
above all what makes sense. Len doesn’t ever go into court to take a shot at
something. He goes to court to play his part in trying to get justice done.
Only when he has decided for himself what the right answer to a legal question
is will he head into the courtroom. There, the process of preparation he
has followed for himself is repeated, with the objective of convincing every
person in the courtroom, including the sheriff, of the validity of his position.
And he is fearless, though always absolutely respectful, in pressing a
judge to understand why the path he is offering is the right one.
Len treats everyone he encounters with warmth and respect. He has no
time for pretention and his stature as a lawyer has never led him to put on
airs. An airplane ride to argue a case out of town inevitably leads to him getting
off the plane having made a new best friend of the person sitting next to
him, whoever they might be, and office and court staff receive the same
humour and friendly conversation as the most high-powered corporate executive
or accused person facing the most serious charges. It has sometimes
been said that the only downside to being represented by Len is that it means
the client knows they are in deep trouble. And it goes without saying that
clients never have any doubt that Len has their best interests at heart and will
do everything he can to see them through to the best possible outcome.
Len is, above all, a person of great compassion. He believes in the importance
and value of compassion to a well-functioning, advanced society, and
the need to ensure that it forms part of our legal system.
His compassion has no doubt been shaped by his own experience. A
defining feature of Len’s early adult years was his addiction to alcohol. His
alcoholism affected his life adversely in every way. In 1971, he came to a
crossroad. If he continued down the path he was on, he would let down the
high school friend who believed in his dream of becoming a lawyer, and he
would not be the husband, father or lawyer he wanted to be. So he took the
other path. Late one Saturday morning, following a typical Friday night, he