MARCY SEGAL: ADVOCATE, LITIGATOR "ON HER TERMS"
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
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
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
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.