Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Criminal

Conron's philosophy: give voice to the voiceless

Long before she found her calling, the signs were all there that London criminal lawyer Carolynn Conron would be a leader in the criminal defence world.

“My teachers in elementary school said I would make a great lawyer because I was always trying to find exceptions to rules and justifying my position,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com

A couple of decades on, Conron, principal of Conron Law Professional Corporation, has transformed that potential into reality, taking on leadership roles in the local legal community as vice-president of the London Criminal Lawyers’ Association, trustee of the Middlesex Law Association and the London Director of the Ontario Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

She also sits on a number of committees, including the bail subcommittee, the Gladue committee focusing on Indigenous issues, the criminal case management committee and the entertainment committee.

Since founding her own practice in 2013, Conron’s firm has grown to include summer and articling student Sam Puchala, as well as paralegal Kaitlin Smith, and she incorporated the firm in June 2018.

High-profile cases have followed, including human trafficking, drug trafficking and sexual assault matters, while Conron has also worked as a junior lawyer on a first-degree murder trial. 

She says her focus on criminal law solidified while at the University of British Columbia First Nations Legal Clinic. 

However, her passion for the subject was sparked at a much younger age, when Conron struggled to reconcile society’s approach to cannabis use.   

“It didn’t make any sense to me that people should be criminally stigmatized for engaging in conduct that was not morally blameworthy,” she explains. 

Conron’s law degree from the University of British Columbia focused heavily on Aboriginal legal issues, and she says her participation in its First Nations legal clinic gave her the first practical taste of criminal defence.

“I knew then it was the area where I wanted to focus my energies,” she says. “I like being up on my feet in court, and helping people to get a second chance in life.”

Before that, Conron’s undergraduate degree at McMaster University in philosophy, communication studies and psychology laid the perfect foundations for her future career.

“From philosophy, I learned about morality and foundational legal principles. Psychology provided an understanding of the human mind and why people might commit crimes, while communication studies helps me to get my ideas across and advocate for people effectively,” she says.

Conron was able to apply her passion for justice while studying for a master of laws at Western University under the supervision of Robert Solomon, who has been teaching on alcohol and drug policy, and tort, criminal and health law for over 40 years. Conron also volunteered at the university’s Community Legal Services as review counsel, assisting individuals who were ineligible for legal aid but unable to afford a lawyer.

Describing herself as a down-to-earth person with a good sense of humour, Conron says she treats clients with empathy and tries to find a way to help them move on with their lives.

“I come from a place of privilege, so it is important for me to advocate for individuals who do not have a voice,” she says. “I love helping people get out of jail. It gives me great personal satisfaction to assist people in understanding the legal system and developing strategies to approach legal issues that will leave them satisfied with the outcome.” 

Outside of the office and the courtroom, Conron has volunteered in the past for The Meal, a local charity fundraiser to end diabetes.

“My family is very important to me,” Conron says of her husband Paul and their two children, Colin and Alexandra, who are about to turn eight and three respectively.

“We also have a cat, Captain Sparkles, and spend time hiking with our two dogs, Jake and Moon Dog,” she says.

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