Learned Friends by Jack Batten

Learned Friends: A Tribute to Fifty Remarkable Ontario Advocates, 1950-2000
Jack Batten
(Irwin Law, Toronto: 2005; co-published by The Advocates' Society)

READ: October 2005

At work, once or twice a week, I receive a photocopy of the front cover page of all new acquisitions received by the library, and I browse through these to see what's new and noteworthy. This was one of them, and it instantly piqued my interest. When I was an articling student a few years ago, I was recruited by a member of The Advocates' Society's editorial board to do research on 50 Ontario advocates. Sound familiar? Yup, this research was part of the initial work done on Mr. Batten's book (except he wasn't the writer I was working with at that point). I note I don't get an acknowledgement anywhere in the book, but to be fair, as an articling student I had unfortunately very little time to spend on this project and didn't get very far (though I did interview one of the lawyers profiled).

Anyway, I was pleased to see this book in the list, and searched it out at the library (we have two copies). Each of the 50 lawyers has a two-page spread detailing their life, career accomplishments, etc., with photos (young and old whenever possible). The writing is light-hearted and engaging. Some very interesting people are profiled in this book, and there are even a few women amongst the group.

And now, a professional anecdote: About a week after I finished reading Learned Friends, one of the staff at the library asked me about a reference question she'd received. A student was doing a history project about some murder trial from the 1950s and wanted to know where she could find more material. The description of the case triggered something for me, and I flipped through Learned Friends on a hunch until I realized that one of the lawyers profiled had acted for the defendant in that matter, and thus I was able to give the student some help in that respect as to where she might find more information! Neat that books actually help you out sometimes ...

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