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Mr Justice Phillip Brissette: Judge

"Keep trying to become better as a person. Do those basic, human things, and good things will come to you."

I spoke with Mr Justice Phillip Brissette of the Ontario Court of Justice in May 2020, during the COVID19 pandemic. Listen to him tell his interesting life story in our video interview, here. It's worth the listen!

Phillip Brissette is a Criminal Court Justice in the Ontario Court of Justice. He adjudicates in criminal law matters.


BA (Honours): UWO - Sociology 

MSW: York University - Social Work 

Phil was a social worker, defence lawyer, Federal Prosecutor for narcotics traffic, and a Crown Attorney before being called to the Bench.

Why did he choose criminal law? Phil says his upbringing was part of that, and a “sense of wanting to help the underdog.”

His favourite aspects of work in his criminal defence work was "meeting people, connecting with them, being the person they can count on, and call in the middle of the night."

He describes his work, when asked if it was stressful: “it was never, rarely a difficulty, representing people who were guilty. It’s always harder representing people you believe are innocent, because if you screw up, something really bad happens.”

“It was stressful, but it was fun work. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. Other than being a judge, of course.”

What advice can Phil offer to young people who are interested in the law?

  • "go into an area of the law that you like;

  • chase the dream or the interest. Don’t chase the money, because if you take a road that pays well and you don’t like it, you're going to be sick of your job; you’re not going to perform well.

  • The money will come.

  • Put in the hours, build up a reputation, and the money will be there, and you’ll always be interested. The time will fly by."

What would you tell your younger self?

  • "it’s all going to be okay;

  • take a deep breath;

  • keep moving forward;

  • keep trying to become better as a person, not better than the person next to you, just better as a person.

  • try to help more people;

  • try to be there as a friend.

  • do those basic, human things, and good things will come to you."

Thanks Phil, for the incredible tips and advice! You have an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it in our interview.

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