Lady Justice: Rebel with a cause

Dear valued reader (even the one that tells me they enjoy Harley Hay’s column the best because he is funny), to reward your faithful readership, I will let you in on one of my secrets. As long as you keep it a secret. Pinky swear.

I have a dream to go on a year long global mission in a couple of years. I plan to do this while practicing law. I am one of those people that does not even fathom retirement. Do what you love and love what you do. Why would you retire from that if you don’t have to? Incomprehensible. That means I cannot put off this dream waiting until I have time, I have to make the time. Why spend 8-10 hours a day and go home to the same old home when you can be anywhere after work?

I have had this travel dream since our law firm IT provider and his spouse were travelling the globe a quarter of a century ago while providing all of our IT services (with a person on the ground nearby). That seemed like magic to me. The dream first subsumed my dream to spend a year in Paris to become fully bilingual (by taking time off, not ever to be likely). My family (I was a teenager) moved out of Quebec when the government told us everything had to be conducted in French by law (Bill 101). I loved speaking French, but not being forced to do it without my consent. Language police. Who would have thought? Doing it in Paris seemed a way around. The dream then evolved to be global.

When I was working my way through law school, and toiling away at Hurley’s Roadhouse in Calgary’s Kensington district, a server friend called me a rebel without a cause. Beats some of the things I have been called. Law school gave me tools to not just rebel but to find solutions.

I have practiced livin’ the dream. Practice makes perfect. I have practiced from Hawaii to Alaska, from New York to LA, and from Europe to Mexico. Maybe if I would have taken that traditional year off after high school and backpacked the globe, this would be out of my system. I did plan, as recommended by my future law firm, to take a month or so off before starting my first job after Law School. By the time I graduated I found myself calling the old Roadhouse to pick up some hours during that break.

What is my mission you ask? Most would call it impossible. I would call it necessary. The same things that will streamline my practice will do the same for the courts, government and clients. I believe in evolution, by continuous improvement, by intuitive leaps and by disruptive innovation where needed. By taking action, and not just by words. My mission involves such action, but if I tell you – as the Pretty Little Liars theme song goes – two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

I write from inside a plane flying to Toronto. I am presenting at the LegalTech Summit Canada this week on harnessing the power of using enhanced data analytics. The Summit includes leading edge presenters covering the future of law. Meanwhile, back at the Alberta ranch, my Law Society tells me I am in a non-traditional situation as I live in two cities and they will only accept that I can live in one unless I explain myself in writing. One foot in the possibilities of the future, one in the shackles of the past. It’s broke and needs fixin’. Rebels WITH causes go boldly. We need you.

Donna Purcell, K.C., (aka Lady Justice) is a Central Alberta lawyer and Chief Innovation Officer with Donna Purcell QC Law. If you have legal questions, contact

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