Remarks by Chief Justice Warren K. Winkler at the Women’s Law Association of Ontario Meeting

March 30, 2011

The Chief Justice of Ontario, Warren K. Winkler, provided the keynote address at a meeting of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario on March 30, 2011. He shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a successful lawyer. In the course of the address, the Chief Justice provided “Twelve Tips on How to Succeed in Law.“ He also read a poem that his grandmother had torn from a newspaper and given him 51 years ago; a poem which he continues to carry in his wallet to this day. The “Twelve Tips” and the poem are reproduced below.

Twelve Tips on How to Succeed in the Law

  1. Law is a helping profession. Help others without looking for anything in return.
  2. People want to help you. Graciously give them the opportunity do so.
  3. Respect your elders. Respect those younger than you. Respect those the same age. Respect those in lesser positions than yours. Respect others.
  4. Be loyal. Loyalty begets loyalty.
  5. Do not exaggerate. Don’t mislead the court. Don’t take advantage of anyone.
  6. Get a mentor or several mentors. Don’t try to go it alone. Mentoring is a two-way street. Mentors in turn benefit from mentees. You are never too old or too senior to have a mentor.
  7. Be a mentor to others.
  8. Always go to events early! Be the first one there.
  9. Join a legal organization of your choice and get involved in it. Speak at events whenever asked.
  10. If you have no work, go to your office.
  11. Take guidance from your grandmother, granddaughter and your mother. If you can’t figure out what to do and you can’t reach one of these people, do what you think is the right thing to do. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  12. Get a dog.

If you follow all of these tips you won’t likely have to worry about professionalism and collegiality.

The world is not a snap-shot in time. Things change. You never know where people you encounter will end up.

The law takes over your life. You personify the law. My colleagues on the Court of Appeal are the law personified.

Don’t underestimate the value of naiveté!

Be a dreamer. “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. (John Lennon, “Imagine”)

Poem from Grandma Stephenson – “Compensation” 1

Who never wept knows laughter but a jest;

Who never failed, no victory has sought;

Who never suffered, never lived his best;

Who never doubted, never really thought;

Who never feared, real courage has not shown;

Who never faltered, lacks a real intent;

Whose soul was never troubled has not known

The sweetness and the peace of real content.

  1. Brainard, E.M. “Compensation” in Alexander, A.L. Poems that touch the heart (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1956) at. 292.
This website is maintained by the Judges' Library. Website Policies