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MARCY SEGAL: ADVOCATE, LITIGATOR "ON HER TERMS"

September 22, 2016

Living the life of a criminal lawyer turned

litigator is a mixture of chaos and structure.

In the courtroom there are rules and customs

that demand respect, courtesy and formality. As

she steps out of the courtroom, Marcy Segal is

faced with the need for instant decision making, bringing in

her years of her experience, 25 years to be exact, as well as

managing the client’s needs that are often challenging.

 

It takes a strong female, driven to succeed, with a

passion for justice for each of her clients, to perform in a male

dominated profession. She believes that it is her obligation

to bring all of her energy to all of her cases, because her

clients trust her to represent them to the best of her ability.

It is within the first few moments that the clients witness

her exuberance, her intense views toward the principle that

you are innocent until proven guilty. But even if he or she

is guilty, it is not for Ms. Segal to pass judgment. That is

not her role to judge. It is her role to advocate passionately, bringing her knowledge of the law, expertise in analyzing people, and strong ability to effectively cross examine any witness.

 

There is no doubt that she is driven to succeed. Her desire to

excel can be seen in every aspect of her life. She gives

110% to everything she does. As a working single

mother, she characterizes herself as a “juggler”. She

exudes pride over her twin daughters, striving to be there for all of their milestones and then some. She feels blessed to have been given such gifts, and they give her fuel to strive to be a better mother, lawyer,and woman. She feels compelled to be a strong role model to her girls, and works tirelessly to accomplish such a task. In

turn, her girls respect her work ethic and the need to expend

a significant amount of time helping her clients.

 

In order to keep her sanity, Ms. Segal has, for over

25 years, been an athlete. As a young woman, becoming

closer with her father was only going to be possible if she

shared his hobbies. She ran the Marine Corp. Marathon with

him, although not beside him, and she never looked back.

Several marathons and years later, she decided to follow

her father’s dream to complete an ironman. For those who

are unaware of what that entails, the race consists of a 2.5

mile swim, 112 mile bike and ending with a full marathon,

26.2 miles, completed in one day. And so, eight months later,

after hours of training, she completed Ironman Canada. Her

time: 14 hours, 47 minutes. An accomplishment, she says,

that gave her increased confidence, giving her more of an

edge in the courtroom.

 

Ms. Segal believes in giving of her time, both in

her professional and personal life. She has been a skills

instructor at Osgoode Hall Law School, The Law Society

of Upper Canada, The Advocate Society, The Criminal

Lawyers Association, The Children’s Aid Association, The

Peel Law Association, among others.

 

She has been duty counsel at the Law Society,

on behalf of the Advocates Society for several years. She

offered her services to anyone who needed assistance in

reporting an alleged assault against Jian Ghomeshi, without

cost.

 

She finds it rewarding to contribute to her profession

and to society. She raised $15,000, deeming her an

Ambassador, for being one of the top fundraisers

for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. She has raised

thousands of dollars for charity in her various races

and raises money for events,including the Walk to End

Breast Cancer, ScotiaBank Marathon Golf Tournament,

with proceeds going to Camp Oochigeas.

 

Ms. Segal’s courtroom experience has given her the

confidence to branch into television and radio, as a guest

analyst on CTV, radio host on talk radio, and a weekly spot

on satellite radio.

 

She has gained immeasurable experience to further

her skills as a seasoned litigator. She has often been sought

out by newspapers, including the Toronto Star, the Toronto

Sun, The Law Times and Lawyer’s Weekly, for her legal

opinion.

 

It is the wealth of her experience, coupled with her

keen, critical, quick mind that translates into well reasoned

and intelligent opinions, that has compelled media to seeking

out her opinions. She was named “Distinctive Woman of

2014”, rewarding her entrepreneurial success

 

Ms. Segal has litigated nearly every section in the

Criminal Code and conducted over 1,000 trials in her career.

But she was not entirely satisfied. She felt that her

skills could be effective in other areas of litigation,

including family, civil, and administrative law.

 

Having made the transition as a litigator,

versus only a criminal lawyer, has been challenging,

but rewarding. As she suspected, she has found that

her abilities as a courtroom lawyer have given her the

ability to be a successful litigator. What has contributed

to her success is her need to succeed, because it is a

large part of who she is.

 

Ms. Segal will not shy away from discussing

how her personal life has affected her professional life.

She does not believe in regret, because ahead of her

is a fresh canvas waiting to be painted. She believes

that life is precious and one should savour it and be

thankful every day.

 

She feels blessed, mostly because of her girls,

and then by her successful career. As a professional,

practicing in a “man’s world’, as she calls it, she

has developed an outer shell that is both tough and

purposeful.

 

She cannot allow anyone to take advantage of

her, for the sake of her clients, and will fight forcefully

to demand that her clients be treated with the utmost

fairness and respect, and that the presumption of

innocence be threaded throughout the trial, until just

before the verdict is read or decision is made.

 

Ms. Segal was up front in admitting that being

a strong advocate has its shares of disadvantages,

especially when it comes to relationships.

 

Ms. Segal would say that some men have been

threatened by her strong beliefs and values, coupled

with her cross examination of them. Although her

focus remains being committed to her girls and her

career, she certainly wouldn’t deny a partner to share

her life with.

 

But then she changes the subject and discusses

her disappointment with members of the public who

do not appreciate the entrenched notions in criminal law,

including having “no bias, prejudice or partiality”, a statement

repeatedly told to potential jurors.

 

People deserve to be given a fair hearing. But before

they have their trial, they should demand that the State apply

the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to everyone in our society.

That means no abuse of power, no obstruction of justice, no

mistreatment based on race, religion or other legal affiliation.

 

It became apparent through our discussions

that Ms. Segal was an intense, strong minded woman,

principled in her beliefs in values -- values such as honesty,

intelligence, integrity, ethics, respect, compassion,

empathy, logic, and most importantly, self awareness.

 

For self awareness provides you with the insight into

one’s strengths and weaknesses, in order to capitalize on the

strengths and improve on one’s faults. Faults, she calls them,

because she yearns for perfection, in an imperfect world.

 

When asked about the secret to her success, she

sighs, explaining that she does measure herself in that way,

her focus being on her client, one after another.

She would say that you have to “want to get up in the morning

to go to work”, a phrase her father would say to her. She was

born a litigator.

 

More importantly, she really enjoys helping

individuals and strongly detests anyone or anything abusing

its power. It is a given, she says, that everyone is entitled to be

treated fairly, before the law.

 

Ms Segal views the relationship between client and

lawyer as symbiotic. There must be a meeting of the minds

and a level of comfort, trust. There needs to be the “right fit”

and mutual respect is key.

 

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