10 Things I have Learned In My First Two Years As A Small Claims Court Adjudicator

Angela Walker – July 2017

  1. Kindness is key. Kindness to other litigants, kindness to other lawyers, kindness to court staff. The dynamics between parties and lawyers is very visible.
  1. I notice the entire courtroom. It is striking how often body language, hair twirling, moans, groans, or snickers stand out to me. They are very distracting.
  1. Preparation makes the world of difference. Regardless if someone has a lawyer or not, good preparation is key in presenting a strong case.
  1. Patience is critical. As someone who has historically struggled with patience, this job has been the best teacher. Listening and understanding takes incredible focus and patience.
  1. Show me the way. I used to think advocacy required something more dramatic. But as I sit and listen to evidence, what I am most interested in is how these facts apply to the law so that I can reach a decision.
  1. Our court staff, from clerks to sheriffs are unbelievably helpful and dedicated.
  1. Assume I will read everything but don’t assume I have read everything. I do my best to read everything in the files prior to starting a session but this is not always possible because of circumstance.
  1. Memory is imperfect. While I understood this before from my legal practice, I see it more clearly in this work. Two individuals can experience the exact same event and have an entirely different recollection in speaking their truth.
  1. Lawyers are incredibly helpful. I have had the privilege of hearing a number of lawyers present cases on behalf of their clients and I am consistently reminded of the importance of legal work.
  1. The court houses in Annapolis Royal and Digby are magical. If you ever have the chance to check them out, you should!


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