Raquel Ness remembers her early political ambitions. It was in 6th grade and she was working on a school project during an election period.
Raquel Ness remembers her early political ambitions. It was in 6th grade and she was working on a school project during an election period. After learning about different leaders, she decided that she wanted be the first elected female prime minister. She even made a $100 bet with her younger brother that her dream would one day become a reality. These were formative years for Raquel. She evolved into a headstrong lawyer whose dreams of becoming a political figure in her own right represented much more than a bet – rather fierce strength, incredible valor along with new possibilities. Even at a young age, she knew that she was standing up for equality. She was speaking not only of gender, but also of justice and liberty. And as it turns out, the bet still stands.
Where did you earn your law degree?
Bond University, Australia
Why law? What inspired your legal aspirations?
My grandfather is a lawyer, growing up I always wanted to be like him. From the age of 7, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. My dreams didn’t just stop there I was going to obtain my law degree and then pursue politics with the goal of becoming the first elected female PM. I’m the oldest and growing up my little brother and I would fight from time to time. My father would usually rule on these types of battles, often siding with my little brother. I of course would protest stating ‘that’s not fair’ which my father would respond with ‘life’s not fair, get over it’ and, always having to have the last word, I would say ‘we should try and make it as fair as possible’. Here I am today trying to make the world a fair place.
Tell me about your childhood and household growing up
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where real estate and law were a part of my household DNA. My parents own a promotional products company. Their business was a big part of my identity growing up. I spent my weekends on my family’s boat in Orillia, Ontario. I was the first grandchild and I was very spoiled for the first 4 years of my life. I looked up to my grandfather who I call Papa Joel. Ironically, he practised real estate law. He was always involved in developments and he built properties. He still practises and he’s a great sounding board for me.
What kind of law do you currently practise?
Real estate, corporate and litigation.
What is a typical day at work/office like for you?
It can vary from attending court or the Landlord Tenant Board to being in the office drafting agreements to closing real estate transactions.
What is the best part of your career?
Guiding people in the largest purchase of their life. Helping first time home buyers navigate the stresses of purchasing their first home. I grew up in the property world where my grandparents would flip properties in the 60s – before flipping was even a thing. When I was around 17 years old, I started to understand the property world. I would drive around with my dad on Sundays and he would say “you want grandma’s house” meaning you would want to buy the worst house on the best street. Things have changed dramatically since my childhood. I remember our household conversations – at that time there were no bidding wars and no one paid above asking price. There were tons of options too. The demand is different now and inventory is incredibly low. I wish my late grandfather Doug (on maternal side) was around to see how the market has changed. He owned a real estate agency and he believed in mortgaging your money. He’d say “business is what makes the world go around.” He would always talk about waterfront properties and how limited they are. My parents now live on the lake and my grandfather would be so proud. He would often speak about the marketability of property. I think he would be shocked at the current state of the real estate market and he would probably tell me to hold onto my money and not to buy quite yet. He talked to me about the value of land and advised me to always buy low and sell high.
What is your least favourite part of the job?
Demanding and unreasonable clients.
What legal case(s) had a strong impact on you and why?
That’s a hard one, there are so many impactful cases out there. Really anything to do with human rights, I have a lot of compassion for all humankind.
Where did you complete your LPP work placement?
Downey Tornosky Lassaline and Timpano Law in Orillia, Ontario - a full service small to medium law firm. I still work here today as an Associate.
Describe a particularly memorable experience during the training component of the LPP
I was attempting to work (to make my student loan payments) and train with the LPP. I must say it was a little too much, I used to think, ‘if I can get to the end of December, I would be a better, stronger person than I thought I was.’ I remember one time I was to attend this charity golf tournament for work. Knowing full well I would be busy all day, I pre-planned to have all my work done in advance. However, the LPP aims to reflect the realities of practice…just when you think you have everything under control they throw you a curve ball! And just like that, I was checking my email before heading out on the course, and there was an urgent message from one of my virtual criminal law client. It was a mad dash to power up my lap top, hot spot it off my phone and attempt to respond accordingly to my client. It was a great view into the real world of what criminal lawyers and others deal with on an ongoing basis – you can’t get that in law school.
Describe a particularly significant experience during the work placement component of the LPP
The first day I started my work placement my principal instructed me to draft a Statement of Claim. Without the hands on training of the LPP, I would have really struggled with this task. However, the LPP taught me practical tools I needed to have confidence to tackle the task.
Describe some of the more particularly helpful tools or skills you acquired during the LPP
Client management and the intake/interview process.
Words of advice can you offer future LPP candidates
Use the LPP to help build your network. Make lasting relationships with other candidates and mentors. The relationships you forge now will help you tremendously in future. It’s a great referral source, and a large group of lawyers who specialize in a multitude of disciplines.
Anything else you'd like to share about the LPP and your experience
Drink up all the knowledge you can get because you never know where it might come in handy in future!