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Point First: Legal Writing

Point First: Legal Writing is brought to you by a team from the Legal Writing Academy project at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Common Law. We are dedicated to improving legal writing anywhere. We designed it as a resource for students, lawyers, and teachers of legal writing. We had a great time putting it together and we hope you enjoy it and find it useful.


Click the contributor's name or photo to find out more.

Virginia McRae
Photo of Virginia McRae.

Virginia McRae, Co-Director of Programs, uOttawa Legal Writing Academy

Virginia McRae has been teaching legal writing since 1979. She graduated from the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law in 1979 and joined the faculty to teach Legal Research and Writing for two years. She was in private practice in Ottawa before joining the Department of Justice, where she practiced in a number of areas (administrative law, human rights law and the Charter, family law and policy) before becoming Assistant Deputy Minister. She received her LL.M in 1991. She was on faculty in the Bar Admission Course for 11 years, teaching Legal Writing, Research, and Public Law. She is now co-Director of the Legal Writing Academy at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law and teaches legal writing and the Writing Leadership course.

Ellen B. Zweibel
Photo of Ellen Zweibel.

Ellen B. Zweibel, Professor and Co-Founding Director, uOttawa Legal Writing Academy

Ellen B. Zweibel, Professor and Co-Founding Director of the Legal Writing Academy at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Ellen has a LL.M Tax Law ( Denver University, 1981); J.D., cum laude ( Booklyn Law School,1974) and B.A. English, cum laude ( SUNY at Stony Brook,1970). She received the 2013 Desire2Learn Innovation in Teaching Award; 2011 University of Ottawa Excellence in Education Prize and the 2007 Sharing the Flame Award: Recognizing Excellence in Learning Award by the Canadian Council of Learning- Health and Learning category. Ellen exercises her left-brain teaching Introduction to Income Tax and her right-brain directing and teaching a required experiential learning program for all first year law students, Dispute Resolution and Professional Responsibility. The Writing Academy occupies both her left and right brain continuously.

Adam Dodek
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Adam Dodek, Professor and Co-Founding Director, uOttawa Legal Writing Academy

Adam Dodek is a graduate of McGill University, Harvard Law School and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. He has clerked at the Supreme Court of Israel, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court of Canada. Dodek has worked in private practice in San Francisco and Toronto and also worked for the Attorney General of Ontario as a Senior Policy Adviser and then as Chief of Staff. He is the founder of the Cavanagh LLP Professionalism Speaker Series as well as the co-founder of the Legal Writing Academy. He has written for many academic and popular publications including the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, Slaw and Policy magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @Adodek.

Ashley Deathe
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Ashley Deathe, lawyer, Nelligan O'Brien Payne, Ottawa, Ontario (playing Anna Okoro)

Ashley Deathe Honour B. Arts Sc. (with Distinction) Arts & Sciences, McMaster University (2005), L.L.B. (Cum Laude) University of Ottawa (2008)

Ashley Deathe (Anna Okoro) is an associate lawyer with Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP. She clerked for Chief Justice Lufty, Justice Lemieux, and Justice Pinard of the Federal Court. Her interest in protecting and restoring the environment lead her to worked at the uOttawa-Ecojustce Environmental Law Clinic during law school and she stays connected to the clinic’s work. She studied classical voice and participates in local choirs and the annual lawyer’s play. Ashely is looking forward to graduate studies in Legal Theory at New York University School of Law.

Stephen Lajeunesse
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Stephen Lajeunesse, lawyer, Federal Government of Canada (playing Ben Hall)

Stephen Lajeunesse was called to the bar in 2011 and is a lawyer with the federal government, with experience in prosecutions, policy development, and advisory work. He attended Carleton University and University of New Brunswick before receiving his law degree from the University of Ottawa. Most recently, as counsel for Public Safety Canada, Stephen helped to negotiate intergovernmental policing agreements and to expand Canada’s witness protection program.

Joel Oliver
Photo of Joel Oliver.

Joel Oliver, lawyer, formerly with the Department of Justice Canada (Anna's Mentor)

Joel Oliver has a B.A.(Honours) from the University of Waterloo and his LL.B from Queen’s University. He was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1988. He joined the Public Service in 1989, and occupied various positions with Revenue Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat and Justice Canada. He retired from the Public Service in 2013. He is involved with a number of charities, for which he was recognized in 2012 with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Janice Payne
Photo of Janice Payne.

Janice Payne, lawyer, Nelligan O'Brien Payne, Ottawa, Ontario (Ben's Mentor)

Janice Payne, 1974 B.A., Carleton University 1974 LL.B., University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

Janice Payne is a senior partner at Nelligan O'Brien Payne in Ottawa Ontario. Her main practice areas are Employment Law, Civil Litigation Class Actions. Her peers in the legal community have recognized her on a number of occasions. In 2001, the Women’s Law Association of Ontario honoured Janice for her pioneer role in the legal profession. She was also honoured by The Advocates’ Society (2007) Women’s Business Network (2008), received the prestigious Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012, and was inducted into the Wall of Honour by the University of Ottawa Common Law Society. Janice is also frequently invited to speak and write on employment issues. Janice takes an active role in arts and community organizations including, National Youth Orchestra of Canada - Board Member (2006-present); Ottawa Chamber Music Society - Director (1995-2005); President (1999-2004); Ottawa-Carleton Economic Corporation (OCEDCO) – Director (1992-94); Community Foundation of Ottawa - Board of Governors (2014-present). She also acts every year in the Ottawa Lawyer’s play raising money for local charities.

Jim Hendry
Photo of Jim Hendry.

Jim Hendry, lawyer, formerly with the Department of Justice Canada (Anna's assigning lawyer)

James Hendry obtained his LLB from the University of Ottawa in 1979 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1981. He was in a general civil litigation practice in Ottawa until 1984. He was counsel at the Canadian Human Rights Commission from 1984 to 1989, providing advice on administrative and human rights matters to the Commission and engaging in the Commission’s litigation before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the courts at all levels across Canada. He joined the Human Rights Law Section at the Department of Justice (Canada) in 1989 where as General Counsel he focused on Charter and human rights litigation and advice to other federal departments. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Charter and Human Rights Litigation, a practitioner’s journal published by Federated Press.

Stephen Acker
Photo of Stephen Acker.

Stephen Acker, lawyer, Fasken Martineau, Ottawa office, (Ben's Assigning Lawyer)

Stephen Acker: LLB, magna cum laude, 1987 University of Ottawa; BA, 1967 McGill University

Stephen is a lawyer in the Ottawa Office of Fasken Martineau LLP. He practises administrative law, mainly in the area of telecommunications, in particular spectrum management, satellite and terrestrial licensing, and related matters. He also represents employers with respect to employment law and workplace issues generally. He has recently taken on cases challenging decisions of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board on behalf of military veterans seeking disability pensions. Stephen was called to the Ontario bar in 1989 after working in the federal government in various positions for 15 years. Outside the law, he hikes, x-country skis, canoes, and acts in the annual Ottawa lawyer play, all to date lawful activities.

Ted Mann
Photo of Ted Mann.

Ted Mann, lawyer, Mann & Associates, Ottawa, Ontario (playing Alex Bradley, client for Ben's memo).

Ted Mann 1978 L.L.B. Osgoode Hall Law School; called to the Bar of Ontario in 1980

Ted Mann, is a senior partner in Mann & Partners, LLP, with 30 years of experience helping individuals with wills, estate matters and real estate issues, working with small and medium sized businesses on commercial, franchise and securities transactions. Ted also has significant experience in providing legal advice and support to individuals, same-sex couples and organizations in Ottawa's GBLT community and does pro bona work Triangle Services, The Pride Committee, Bruce House, Gender Mosaik. Ted teaches a Bankruptcy and Insolvency course at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. He is an active participant and supporter of local community and arts organzation. He has performed with Opera Lyra Ottawa , Savoy Society, Orpheus, Ottawa Little Theatre, Tara Players and in the annual Great Canadian Theatre Company lawyers play raising funds for local charities. He is on the Board of Directors of The Canadian Guide Dogs for The Blind and of Southminster Music for Charity and Community.

Website Production Team

Caroline Marcoux

Caroline Marcoux, Web Developer, Centre for e-Learning, University of Ottawa

Elizabeth Campbell Brown

Elizabeth Campbell Brown, Instructional Designer, Centre for e-Learning, University of Ottawa

Marc Bélanger

Marc Bélanger, Video, Centre for e-Learning, University of Ottawa

Erwan Peres

Erwan Peres, Programmer, Centre for e-Learning, University of Ottawa


This is the part where we warn you not to rely on the law in the memos and examples. The law moves on; our legal research has not.

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Direct comments and questions to Professor Ellen B. Zweibel,


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