After throwing her hand in politics at a relatively young age, Karine Joizil returned to her true professional calling, that of litigation lawyer. Over her career, she has gained an in-depth knowledge of the legislation governing the health sector and regularly advises health professionals and organizations. She also believes that it is important to invest in the legal community and has been lecturing on public and administrative law at theÉcole du Barreau for over ten years. A mother of active twin 11-year old boys, she finds the time to give back to her community, and currently is chair of the board of directors for Recyc-Québec.
How would you describe your role to someone who has no knowledge of what you do?
I am a litigation lawyer, a Partner at the Lavery law firm. My job is to advise and assist companies (and sometimes individuals) who have rights to assert or who must defend themselves against claims they deem inappropriate. Ultimately, I represent these companies or individuals in court.
What milestone kick-started your career?
My implication in politics, which at a relatively young age exposed me to a large number of personalities and public speaking events, all of which allowed me to be noticed. It helped me to develop skills that I now use daily in my work: the art of compromise, the ability to develop a quick argument, and oratory skills. I also benefit from the network developed during these years as part of my work and my other social implications.
What would you describe as your biggest accomplishment that you are the most proud of?
My greatest pride is to see my 11-year-old twins flourish everyday; to watch them progress in life, be cultured and aware of the world around them. Being a professional mom is a challenge at times and so far, I say we are on the right track!
What was the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
The biggest risk I have ever taken was to make the leap into active politics in the 2011 federal general election, which was totally unplanned. After the defeat, I had to manage my return to the practice of law, which presented many challenges as well.
How did you envision your career before experiencing it within its current reality?
I always knew that I wanted to plead in court. It seems like I’ve always been in tune with this aspect of my practice. What I did not know is that often before convincing a judge, we must convince our clients. We cannot ask them to put their fate in our hands without a little convincing. There is thus a lot of collaboration, accompaniment and persuasion that must be done beforehand with whoever entrusts us with the mandate to represent them.
“It is not the grandeur of the gesture or the number of times it is made that counts, but its sincerity and its significance at the moment it is made.”
What was the best advice you have ever received?
Do not accept an offer out of spite. If the opportunity with the right conditions has yet to present itself, wait!
What is your greatest source of inspiration on a daily basis?
My children are my main sources of inspiration in everyday life, I want to do well for them, and I want to be a model for them. My parents are another source of inspiration, they have shaped me into the person I am today. I hope my actions to pay tribute to their efforts and sacrifices. Obviously, I have coworkers who inspire me every day by their intelligence and their rigor. But what inspires me more is the client and the trust they show in me. Every day, I get up and tell myself that I must be worthy of this trust.
What are the challenges for women & minorities in politics? Why is it important to have representation from everyone in government?
Women in general face many challenges. They must excel, but they are expected to do so with humility. We want them to be effective but discreet, to shine but stay in the shadows. For a woman of visibile minority, these challenges are greater as she will have to fight against a lot of things left unsaid. Being a part of a minority allows you to stand out and can give you perspective. However, we really must avoid the label of “the minority”, some will want to confine to the role of representative or worse, of a figurehead… The challenge remains to remain honest with respect to who we are and where we are come from, while making sure to not simply be a caricature of oneself. It is essential that all spheres of public activity be representative of the composition of our society. This is how we can ensure social cohesion.
“Follow your instincts. Nine times out of ten, it will lead you down the right path.”
What is the importance of giving back to your local community?
I am one who believes that in life, you have to make a difference. You have to be one of those who have tried. When life gives us certain privileges, we must be aware that they are indeed gifts, with which come the responsibility of helping and watching over those less fortunate than you. By our actions, our choices, our silences and our words, we have the power and the duty to help those who look up to us -and especially to those who may not know us, but who do indeed need us. It is not the grandeur of the gesture or the number of times it is made that counts, but its sincerity and its significance at the moment it is made.
Can you share an anecdote or a moment that strongly impacted your life journey?
Life made it so that I had to resort to assisted procreation to conceive my gorgeous 11-year-old boys. This personal experience allowed me to understand the reality of people going through what I had gone through, and led me to get involved at the philanthropic level to support this cause. It also gave me the opportunity to better understand the legal issues related to assisted reproduction. As a result, today, due to a very personal issue, I benefit from a network of exceptional contacts and I have been able to develop a clientele and a professional experience with health professionals in this field and from other medical specialties.
Karine Joizil is a partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution group at the Lavery law firm. She has developed, throughout her career, a solid expertise in civil and commercial litigation, including collective actions. She has defended the interests of companies operating in various sectors in the context of complex class action suits that raise important legal issues.