Jennifer Gold, President
Several years ago, one of my clients gave me a gift after the settlement of her case. It was a sculpture of a word: “Hope”. At that time, I thought it was lovely to receive a gift from a client who I represented in Family Law court proceedings. However, I do not think that I fully appreciated the message.
“Hope” was a lovely sentiment but my younger self thought it was a bit cliché. I placed it on my credenza in my office as a decorative item that sits there to this day. When this client gave me this gift, she expressed that I gave her hope throughout the court proceedings, and at a very difficult time in her life. I believed that by placing this sculpture in my office, in full view of my clients, that it would inspire them. Over the years, this artwork has made me reflect on its meaning in different ways.
Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Nelson Mandela said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Anne Frank wrote, “Where there is hope, there is life.” There are hundreds of quotes about hope. Yet, I think we forget how simple and important it is.
As members of the justice system, we have a responsibility in offering hope to the public, and in turn fostering public trust in justice, and the institution of justice. We carry great privilege in the legal profession. For we have the ability to create change, whether it is a change in the interpretation or implementation of the law, or shining a spotlight on systems that could benefit from reform.
When we use our voice in the public good, when we demonstrate respectful, honourable engagement, when we meaningfully include diverse people, and when we repair broken relationships, we offer hope. When positive change happens as a result, we fuel that hope like a fire. If the public does not have hope in justice, if they see no alternative to the present, or in their ability to overcome their challenges and barriers, then we, as a consequence, lose public trust. Peace becomes precarious.
I always see September as a time of new beginning. In the Jewish tradition, the new year is celebrated. Schools re-open after the summer break. In our profession, we see the opening of the Courts and are bestowed with the wisdom of our judiciary. It is the beginning of autumn. As we cope with the fourth wave of the pandemic, let’s renew our commitment to justice and proceed hopefully.
Jennifer Gold, President