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A call to the bar or a call to arms? | Murray Fallis

Wednesday, June 09, 2021 @ 1:57 PM | By Murray Fallis


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Murray Fallis %>
Murray Fallis
I recently sat down to a hot cup of black coffee and stumbled upon a note from the Law Society of Ontario. “Congratulations,” it read, “you have now completed the licensing process.”

For articling students, the call to the bar is an important event. It marks the day on which our successes, failures and challenges are recognized. It is an acknowledgment of late nights in law libraries, tired early mornings in classrooms — whiteboards, treatises, Hansards and law journals. It marks the deterioration of our eyesight and the development of our knowledge. The call to the bar bears a unique meaning for each of us.

For litigators, it means buying new robes. As they walk down Adelaide to Harcourts’ Harry Potter-esque robe shop, each careful young litigator peruses all of their options to ensure they find their perfect fit. For solicitors, it’s a stamp upgrade. Red, black or blue, calibri, times or arial, the words bear great meaning, as do their form. For many, though not myself, it also marks overcoming racism, sexism and ableism to persevere in spite of it all.

As I sat in my pajamas on my living room couch, it slowly dawned on me that though the call to the bar is unique for each of us, it has common meaning for us all. While it is a recognition of our past trials and tribulations, more fundamentally, it remains a call.

If one Googles the “call to the bar,” they will learn that, historically, the bar represents the wooden barrier in a courtroom which separated judges and lawyers from the public. Literally, the “call to the bar” is the act of crossing that barrier. It meant one would speak to the judge on behalf of a member of that public constituency. An individual who did not have the tools to cross that barrier themselves.

While COVID-19 may have interrupted our ceremony, it has also interrupted the lives of so many. It has shown the fundamental cracks in our society. How law furthers justice and protects rights, but also how it remains out of reach for so many. How finances, legalese and courtrooms mean many view the law as a weapon, not a tool, a rifle, not a shield.

As articling students sit in living rooms and celebrate a monumental day, we also need to reflect. For it is not the ceremony itself that is important, but rather the meaning of that call. It is a call to assist others. A call to act with loyalty, candour and honesty in everything we do. A call to use our knowledge to inform, assist and advise. To serve our clients to the highest of standards and to protect the public interest in the furtherance of both justice and the rule of law.

Whether our call is electronic or in person is of no relevance. The meaning cannot be lost. No matter one’s practice, firm, or field, soit droit fait.

Murray Fallis is a licensed member of the Law Society of Ontario.

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