“We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit” – Aristotle.
Last weekend, we held our 11th annual Women Lawyers Retreat at Nita Lake Lodge, in Whistler. It was a wonderful weekend of inspiration, collaboration and learning.
Despite what some people might think, the challenges women face, (especially in business and in law,) have certainly not disappeared… and it’s crucial that while we acknowledge how far we’ve come, we also recognize what we can do to continue to progress and create change.
As we continue to move forward and support one another, let’s remember that healthy habits are the foundation of growth.
What struck me the most about the day was the common thread in many of the presentations – ‘what is the truth.’
In the search for justice, the burden of truth can be a very tricky thing. Here’s why – in court, as in life, there is never just any one truth. There are so many stories to be told, perspectives to be examined (and cross-examined) and relative realities to dissect. Partial truths or missing pieces to a timeline, for example, don’t necessarily make those stories any less true… but to reach a decision, it will all depend on the subjective ‘truth’ in the narrative which is accepted.
Another element which can determine this process is something that one of our speakers from the criminal law seminar, Marie Heinen, called “the most complete, plausible truth.” This means that not only must we sift through the truths of the prosecution and the defence, but add in the perception of the judge and jury, the influence of the media and the personalities of the lawyers and you’ve got yourself a multitude of stories to discern. Every individual in that courtroom enters into the process with the bias of their own history, experiences and beliefs. The business of getting to the most “complete, plausible truth” then, is in the composition of a strong, cohesive narrative which is based in fact and law. The outcome will be determined, inevitably, by the recreation of a clear story that takes into account the fact that every aspect will be coloured by so much more than a basic ‘truth.’
Some say the main flaw in our justice system is in its humanity. I would argue that this is its strength. I would hope that the very fact that these many truths exist within one narrative is what allows our justice system to empower us to work towards an outcome which is fair, just and ‘true’.