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Academic credentials can help build successful law practice

published July 19, 2016

In the long run, education can prove to be more important than experience for lawyers, as it may make all the difference in terms of credibility, criminal lawyer and legal scholar Dr. Gary Botting tells Lawyers Weekly.

As Botting says in the article, his career path has been unorthodox — he holds several postgraduate degrees, including doctorates in law and English literature, and gained experience as a journalist, teacher and playwright before going into law in his 40s.

Botting was called to the bar in 1991 and has since become a noted legal scholar and author of a number of books, including: Canadian Extradition Law Practice, Fifth Edition (Markham: LexisNexis, 2015), Halsbury’s Laws of Canada: Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance, 2015 Reissue (LexisNexis, 2015) and Wrongful Conviction in Canada (2010). He has appeared as defence counsel in numerous high-profile cases, with a focus on extradition, dangerous offender and wrongful conviction cases.

“Advanced education has really opened doors for me,” Botting tells Lawyers Weekly.

“Word of mouth is very important, especially in criminal law. There’s nothing like having extra letters after your name, even if they’re unpronounceable, to make people think you’re desirable to have on their team.

“If you’re earning big bucks, you may not want to give that up, but I never got into that. I just wanted to make a difference. I work from home, my overheads are low and the phone rings off the hook. The success of my practice is due to my academic and writing credentials,” says Botting.

Also, he explains, advanced education improves your analytical skills.

“You can hold your own in the courtroom so much more easily when you’ve been through higher education debates in law school. Judges pay more attention. They take higher degrees into account. They become more like peers than superiors,” says Botting.