Glenford is a food lawyer practicing in Toronto at G.S. Jameson & Company, where he advises clients on corporate-commercial and regulatory issues. When he's not working on files, he writes and hosts a podcast Welcome to the Food Court, which explores the connection between food and law, for which his firm won a CLAWBIE for Best Practitioner Blog and previously a CLAWBIE for Best New Blog. Oh, and he co-organized Canada's first food law conference at the Schulich School of Law
LET'S START WITH THE BASICS. DID YOU ALWAYS IMAGINE YOURSELF GOING TO LAW SCHOOL?
I don't think so. I was super curious but somewhat unfocused as an undergraduate and managed to strap most of my interests into a history degree. Once I got closer to graduating from undergrad, I did what an HR professional would call a 'personal skills inventory' and the set which I had developed seemed to fit nicely with what I thought made a lawyer. Frankly, I wasn't sure lawyering would be much fun, so before I started at law school I worked at a remarkable family and estates law firm for two years. I learned quickly that I liked law, had an aptitude for working with business organizations and solicitor issues - but also that I had little interest in litigating. I went to law school with that in mind.
WHAT MAKES YOUR CAREER LAWFULLY UNCOMMON?
Most days, I'm pretty sure I'm a lawyer like the rest of 'em. But I'm a food lawyer, which puts me in a pretty small practice demographic as compared to the amount of general civil litigator's in Canada's legal profession. I also run Canada's only food law firm, which has been operating for around four years now. I co-organized Canada's first Food Law and Policy conference at the Schulich School of Law last fall, which was (subjectively) awesome. Oh, and I host Welcome to the Food Court, a podcast that explores the relationship between law and food. In sum, I've been able to combine my formal legal training with a unique field that I feel passionate about and invested in. Which makes me feel really privileged.
AT WHAT MOMENT DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO SWTICH GEARS?
In a way, I think you're asking me how well I know myself and how conventionally do I work? I realized that taking an unconventional approach was going to be critical to my personal happiness and my professional satisfaction. I also knew that the manner in which I work is not the most traditional. The best part of being ~ 30 is that you have a large enough sample size of experiences to know under which circumstances you'll be successful and under which you'll struggle or fail. My successes usually had a high degree of unilateral flexibility and unencumbered decision making. I think, when you're a young professional and you're trying to understand what it means to be a respected and/or successful professional, you need to be comfortable and in a place that's designed for you to succeed.
WHAT GOT YOUR JUICES FLOWING OR TICKLED YOUR FANCY WHILE AT LAW SCHOOL?
I loved Conflicts of Law and Aboriginal Constitutional law. There is no connection with my practice today, other than those areas of law and history present abstract and intractable problems in a similar fashion to that of many food policy problems.
WHAT MADE YOUR BLOOD BOIL OR MADE YOU SNOOZE AT LAW SCHOOL?
I went to what is now known as Dalhousie University's Schulich School of Law and I genuinely enjoyed my time studying there. The things that used to make me crazy - primarily the 100% final testing model and the standard hypo law school exam format - are things I've become grateful for in private practice. There is nothing soft about the process of making submissions as a lawyer - everything is hard and fast. The 100% final - fair or not - prepares you for that. And when a client walks into your boardroom and explains a problem, you're going to want to be as well-versed in your law as when you walk into an exam. As a new lawyer, I was fixated on the Dunning-Kruger effect - someone who is incompetent will never be able to recognize and evaluate their competence: they'll never spot the issues that they're missing. Law school exams were helpful for their objective feedback and for teaching you how to comprehensively prepare.
DO YOU STILL SEE LAW ALL AROUND YOU?
I'm immersed in legal issues. Although, this is an interesting question for me - something that's peculiar about food law is the amount of regulation and policy that you encounter rather than actual statute or judge-made laws. What's more, the frequency with which regulations or policies are amended (the procedure manual for meat is amended almost weekly), and the lack of case law that arises. That's scary. Food law in the regulatory realm is primarily administrative law and public law, both of which rely on cases that are moved forward by public service unions or interest groups. This means that when I have a producer whose imported cured sausage is going to be destroyed because an inspector has misconstrued something as filth rather than salt in a visual inspection, I typically don't have case law to guide my interpretation of the food and drug regulations when working with CFIA or Health Canada lawyers. So, I end up needing to lean on a blend of principles that weren't developed for food along and an intimate understanding of the practical and philosophical problems underlying the issue.
YOU ARE AT A COFFEEHOUSE SPEAKING TO A FIRST-YEAR LAW STUDENT. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR ANSWER IN A TWEET. YES, THAT MEANS 140 CHARACTERS AND HASHTAGS (WE ARE MILLENIALS, SO KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS WILL MAKE IT TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB)
Hah! I'm a millennial too (just), so here goes: "@1LHopeful I think the trick to a rewarding career is to seek out good training while maintaining perspective and interests outside of law".
WHAT DOES A DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE?
In a basic sense, I spend a fair amount of time at the office, on the phone and drafting documents or emails. We're a small firm too, so I work a lot on the enterprise of running a firm. I don't bill a ton, but I work a lot. The joy of this gig though, is that there is a healthy diversity of work that comes across my desk so it's rare to find myself repeatedly plowing through the same legal issue in the same way.
IF YOU WERE GIVEN THE BLESSING AND CURSE OF AN EXTRA HOUR EVERY DAY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANTED, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It would be a total gift. But I imagine that, like time changes, it would be considered an extra hour for about a week and then it would be absorbed into your regular life. But if I had a little more time, I'd set aside some extra room to read more fiction and keep more active.
ANY REGRETS? (YEAH, WE'RE RETROSPECTIVE LIKE THAT)
I don't know about regrets, but there are lots of lessons learned. Generally speaking, running a firm can be all-consuming, so it is often hard to make time for yourself and the things that you valued when you were a law student.