As a child, Hossein Moghtaderi had a front row seat to corruption, inequality and censorship.
As a child, Hossein Moghtaderi had a front row seat to corruption, inequality and censorship. Growing up in his native Iran, he experienced a legal system that served to institutionalize injustice – he was often silenced for speaking his truth. Yet, Hossein continued to voice his opinions – even when the pursuit of justice had dire consequences. At the age of 18, he decided to immigrate and build a new life in Canada. This was a life-changing move but he finally felt at home in a just society that was rooted in the rule of law, defended human rights and celebrated diversity.
Where did you earn your law degree?
University of Ottawa, in the Nation’s capital.
Why law? What inspired your legal aspirations?
I grew up in Iran where rule of law doesn’t mean much, so the best approach was to avoid having to come in contact with the legal system at all cost. From an early age, I remember attending court with my father and grandma regarding land dispute claims in relation to family property. The only way to describe the system would be as a ‘kangaroo court.’ The system thrived on corruption and injustice rather than law. While I was thrilled by the legal process and the law, I knew full well that I could never practice in this system! Similarly, I got involved with the student council while attending an all-male high school. I pushed against gender segregated based student councils and was repeatedly told to shut my mouth both indirectly and directly. After one particular event, my parents and I were sat down and spoken to!! I couldn’t stomach the injustice and inequality. It became clear that I didn’t fit into the Iranian society. I was not made for it, and it was not made for me.
Tell me about an incident that propelled you into law?
Just a couple of months before I considered applying to law school, I had an occasion to assist a friend navigate through the court system here in Toronto. An unfortunate event landed him in jail, which could have completely changed his life. I bailed him out, found him a lawyer and made sure that he got the advice he needed. I recognize that even our system could be improved, but that experience literally made me fall for the profession and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Two months later, I wrote the LSAT, and submitted my law school applications. the rest is history.
What kind of law do you practise?
Labour and employment law. I like this area of law because it’s focused on people. I get to work closely with clients and opposing counsel and appear before different decision-makers on a regular basis. There are no dull moments and I am all about the experience.
What is a typical day at work/office like for you?
I usually take a quick look at my inbox for any urgent matters first thing in the morning and on my way to work I pick up a grande, lactose-free, vanilla latte. I try to plan my week on Sundays, but nevertheless review my calendar every morning to make necessary adjustments to my to-do list. The rest of the day is filled with meetings, client calls, research, and drafting if I’m in the office; or I could be walking, driving, or flying to a hearing somewhere in the province. I also try to get to gym or yoga a few times a week (or at least I try to).
What is the best part of your career?
Dealing with new challenges and answering questions that I have not previously dealt with. I also get to work closely with clients which is fun but also sometimes challenging.
What is your least favourite part of the job?
Never have enough hours in the day!!
What legal case had a strong impact on you and why?
First year public law with the amazing Professor Dodek (presently the Dean of the Common Law section at Ottawa University). Roncarrelli v Duplessis,  SCR 121. Landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision where the court held that the Premier of Quebec had overstepped his constitutional authority by revoking the liquor licence of a citizen (Mr. Roncarelli) This case if often cited for the proposition that no public official was above law by the operation of the unwritten constitutional principle of “rule of law”; you can probably guess why this decision resonated with me.
Where did you complete your LPP work placement?
Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP - Canada’s largest labour and employment firm focusing on the representation of management in human resources law and advocacy.
Describe a particularly memorable or significant experience during the training component of the LPP:
I met one of best friends during the August in-person week. It turns out that we were both Ottawa University grads but never met in law school. I know we will be life-long friends and continue to support each other in furtherance of our careers. We became each other’s sounding boards. The program provides an amazing opportunity for you to meet candidates from all walks of life and with varied experiences. It’s a mini alumni and we still get together as LPP alumni because we spent a significant time together and we were able to bond.
Describe a particularly memorable or significant experience during the work placement component of the LPP:
My very first assignment was to read a (rather large) file, figure out the issue(s) and prepare to discuss it with the responsible partner. I totally freaked out, I hadn’t even taken labour law in school. I ended up assisting my principal with that file and attended the hearing. I’m a true believer that the best way to learn is by being thrown in the deep.
Words of advice can you offer future LPP candidates:
The LPP is an excellent program and it continues to improve for the better, but at the end of the day you make of it what you will! You have to work hard, and trust me, it pays off!