Paul Atkinson is a retired lawyer of Advocacy Law and currently a criminal justice professor at the Sir Stanford Fleming college, located in Peterborough Sutherland campus Ontario. And he was my teacher, the first impression of which I did not expect, he walked in with a jersey of a team did not know and grin on his face, Law class was meant to be serious yet any person can tell from the spark of humour in his eyes that might not be our my case this time.
I began with questions aimed at the basics of how he became involved, where he went to school and what area he practiced. “How did you become interested in Law?” He responded ” I was initially interested in politics, I studied economy and politics and realized that many Canadian politicians are lawyers.” I proceeded “what area of law did you practice, and how did you practice?” “I was an on court lawyer, criminal crimes, civil law suites and administrative law. I was a Advocacy lawyer more simply. I studied at the University of Alberta, during which I taught social studies in elementary and high school.” “What was you favorite part of your practice?”. “Mt favorite was the court action, it was stimulating, like a performance to a big audience, I enjoyed the arguments. Or like teaching, if I go back to practice I want to go to court.”
My next series of questions were about the general culture and how certain areas attract different personalities. “Would you say there is a culture or attraction of certain personality’s to the practice?” “Oh definitely. In my experience there are people cutout for different areas of Law. On court lawyers are more out going and engaged for arguing and defending. Off court appear more introverted, more inclined to remain off court. There are different personality’s for the criminal field, if I spoke to a criminal lawyer I can tell what area they are in. Culture wise, you develop a mind set, as my wife gets annoyed with me “cross examining her” when I challenge her an argument. It is that going in to Law school if you do not have the mind set, then it will be molded into you by the time you leave.”
My next question were personalized to him again “what did you find the most challenging in the practice?” “It’s funny, people ask ‘isn’t it difficult to defend the guilty’, no that’s the easiest, the most challenging is to defend someone you believe is innocent but have insignificant evidence. Problematic, memories are distorted, how do you convince them they are lying when they believe it is true? Memory is not a photograph, it is difficult to challenge someone who’s memory is faulty. I wake up late in the night in a sweat worrying about it.” Finally I asked him “Would you say there is a advise for aspiring young students who want to pursue Law?” “Do the best you can for the Client, and do your best everyday.”
I choose Paul for this profile in order to better understand the perceptive of a lawyer, and I have always had a keen interest in politics and law, and to hear the summarized life and times of one so experienced with such fields I felt enlightened. It interested me how bright and enthusiastic he spoke of his profession, and I could see he had a true love for the practice.