(don’t tell anyone; i am posting this from work)
This morning I was assigned research about cases that they thought were going to be like, hard to find or something. I found all the cases and cited all the relevant sections of the statutes and made a memo. That was very exciting and was supposed to take me all day but I finished hours ago.
So now I am writing up a short story.
I love this job. It is my soulmate. Too bad we will only be together until January.
paralegal field placement update (including musings about disability law in canada!)
so my legal aid placement is going awesomely so far. i spent a good part of the day feeling half-frozen with anxiety but i LIKED IT.
one of the lawyers i work with did a degree in comparative literature and also spent a bunch of time today talking to me about some of the various ways that cultural differences can affect witnesses’ ability to give “good testimony.” expected: men from some cultures tend to be reticent when talking about their medical ailments. less expected (but should have been): some people have difficulty quantifying their ailments (using numerical scales of pain, etc) because that’s just not normally part of how they conceptualize illness. score one against objective rationality?
one of the other lawyers i work with is one of my former profs and is super nice and really excited about poetry and weirdly is the stepmother of one of the professors from my undergrad english department. and also vegetarian. i was not expecting to have things in common with the lawyers at legal aid, and yet. also i did really well in her class, so i am working off of a good first impression, which is comforting. it also might explain why she was unsurprised and unbothered that i showed up characteristically late this morning.
i got to watch clients being prepped for their hearings, people filling out affidavits, i learned part of how to open a client file, and i learned a bunch about how social assistance, and especially odsp (ontario disability support program), works. i spent a lot of time wondering whether i would ever be mentally/emotionally unstable enough to qualify for odsp and decided i probably wouldn’t barring extraordinary and unforeseen tragedy.
and then i had an extra half hour at the end of the day so i read parts of a book on the shelf about mental disability in canadian law, and specifically how “capacity” and “mental incompetency” are constructed (they’re usually pretty ableist, quelle surprise), which is basically what i did my m.a. project on and is one of my few earnest research interests.
i learned that a lot of our law regarding guardianship for “mentally incompetent” adults is based on medieval English “lunacy law” which was more interested in property protection than the guardianship of individuals for the sake of their well-being. which explains why we have so much legislation in canada regarding property guardianship and so little on personal guardianship. [ :/ ]
also, this book i was reading suggested that guardianship laws should be based on making sure “mentally incompetent” adults can exercise their right to guardianship and less based on the state’s power to impose guardianship on people. which sounds nice, i guess, and is based on the u.n.’s “declaration on the rights of mentally retarded persons”. but then don’t you face the practical paradox, it would seem, which is that if people really are unable to make decisions about their care (never mind how difficult and problematic -that- is to ascertain), then how can they be expected to assertively and reasonably exercise their right to guardianship? like if the assumption is that people who need legally appointed guardians are people who can’t understand the nature and consequences of their decisions and thus can’t make decisions in their own best interest, then don’t you encounter a practical paradox by asking them to decide they need a guardian and exercise their rights? on the other hand, ew state paternalism. how do you work out this convoluted mess?
paralegal journal entry
Next week I am going to start my field placement (unpaid, 20-day co-op) at a legal aid clinic. This is an IDEAL PLACEMENT because legal aid clinics are like, not full of capitalistic, energy-draining lawyers and their bourgeois clients with privileged problems? But instead are full of people who legitimately -need- legal representation and lawyers who work for much lower than usual pay in order to make that happen. Very cool.
But also I get a week off, so life is all around good and I am -uncharacteristically- really pleased with everything including myself.