Criminal Law

No-nonsense criminal lawyer Dostaler tells it how it is

By Staff

Don’t ask Ottawa criminal lawyer Céline Dostaler to sugarcoat the truth.

It’s just not in her nature.

“I’m a no-nonsense kind of person,” she tells

When clients first meet with her, often during a free initial consultation, Dostaler gives them all the same warning.

“I’m going to tell you it how it is, whether or not you want to hear it,” she says. “I’m a very direct and upfront kind of person. If they want a second opinion, I encourage them to get one. I think it’s a good idea to meet with lawyers before you hire them.“

Even if it puts some of them off, Dostaler says the attitude serves both her and her clients well in the long run.

“It’s very important to have a good rapport with clients, and I think they would say I’m very fair,” she says. “Unfortunately, some clients don’t have much of a chance at trial. If you’ve been caught red-handed, your chances of winning at trial could be limited, but maybe we can limit the scope of punishment with a guilty plea.

“Sometimes they won’t like my answers, but at least they know they can trust what I’m telling them,” Dostaler adds.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Dostaler says she became interested in criminal law from a very early age, after watching bad guys in movies.

“Criminal law sounded like so much fun and was a world that I wanted to be involved with. But at the same time, I had no interest in being a cop,” she says.

After completing a bilingual undergraduate degree in criminology and psychology, Dostaler took another step towards her dream job by enrolling in the University of Ottawa’s French Common Law program, before her call to the bar in 2010.

Almost a decade on, she says the reality of criminal defence work has lived up to her presumptions.

“It’s not exactly how I expected, but it is so much fun,” Dostaler says. “I love being in court all the time, advancing the interests of my clients and protecting their rights.”

In court, her direct approach is again evident.

“I like to get straight to the root of the question or matter at hand, always mindful that my task is to work hard for my client,” she says.

Dostaler's clients in Ottawa are split pretty evenly between French- and English-speaking defendants, facing charges including impaired driving, domestic assault, sexual assault and many more.

“Ottawa is a very bilingual community. Even if someone is comfortable speaking in English, they may want to proceed with a trial in French, and they have the right to a trial in the official language of their choice,” she says.

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