By Kathy Rumleski, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor
Toronto employment lawyer Doug MacLeod tells AdvocateDaily.com that an increase in the firm’s caseload and a growing clientele has made it necessary for him to hire a new associate.
Fiona Martyn recently joined the practice full-time after completing her articles with the firm, says MacLeod, principal of MacLeod Law Firm.
“She has hit the ground running partly because she was involved in files during articling that are progressing along,” he says.
During her first week as an associate, Martyn had a mediation that started when she was an articling student, MacLeod says.
“She settled in mediation with a good result and followed that quickly with another mediation on her own,” he says. “In a few weeks she will be conducting a hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. One thing we pride ourselves on at the firm is that new lawyers receive responsibility quickly and get on-their-feet experience.”
But of course, Martyn had to earn the right to take these cases on, and she did, MacLeod says.
“We wouldn’t put her in these situations unless we felt she would succeed.”
Martyn says it was this boutique culture that attracted her to MacLeod Law, along with the firm’s strong human rights practice.
“Unlike many articling students, I was fortunate to have carriage of my own files and to appear before various administrative tribunals and courts.”
MacLeod says he offered Martyn the position, as he was impressed with her strong social justice background and the fact she previously worked for the Ontario Ministry of Labour on employment regulations.
Her resume also includes an internship at the United Nations Population Fund, employment as a caseworker for the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic and as a research assistant at the same university looking at the experiences of illegal immigrants and the legal and human rights implications of changes to migration and asylum policies in Canada.
MacLeod says it was important for him to hire someone who understood the human rights field.
“A large number of our cases have more than one legal cause of action, and often there will be a human rights component,” he explains.
“One thing I always look for is a demonstrated interest in the area. I look at someone’s volunteer and placement positions. There is no point recruiting people who may be good lawyers but have no interest in the area.”
Martyn, who graduated cum laude from a dual-degree program in which she earned her law degree in French and an honours degree in political science, says she is excited to be part of the firm.
“I look forward to developing my skills in all aspects of human rights and employment law,” she says.
As part of her practice, Martyn will work with both employee and employer clients.
“Working on both sides of the law will allow me to provide more strategic legal advice,” she says. “I can also apply the insight I gain from representing employees to draft stronger policies for employers that ensure safe, non-discriminatory workplaces.”
Another exciting opportunity the firm offers young lawyers is mentoring, both from MacLeod and the other associates, Martyn says.
“I’ve always believed that having strong mentors is the key to a successful career,” she says. “I was grateful to be invited back as an associate because I can continue to grow under the mentorship of a stellar team of lawyers.”
MacLeod says Martyn will have the opportunity to work with associate Nadia Halum Arauz, who completed a term at the Human Rights Support Centre.
Another lawyer at the firm, Nicole Simes, interned with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and was the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the human rights publication Rights Review.
MacLeod was recently recognized with the Ontario Bar Association Randall Echlin mentorship award, for his contributions in this area.
“I enjoy mentoring, and it’s an important part of a lawyer’s development. My thinking is that if I treat people right, they will love their work, do a great job and get recognized for doing so,” he says.