Law alumni feature – Danielle Ching McNamee – TRU Newsroom

Law alumni feature – Danielle Ching McNamee – TRU Newsroom

May 16, 2023 at 3:13 pm  Education, Kamloops, News

In this spotlight, we feature Danielle Ching McNamee from the law class of 2018.

After law school, Danielle started a clerkship with the BC Supreme Court, solidifying her interest in criminal law. She now works as a criminal defence lawyer for Bradford F. Smith Law Corp., a Kamloops firm specializing in criminal law.

In her practice and as a moot coach, Danielle believes in the importance of soundboarding and creating an environment that is conducive to frank and open discussion.

Through our conversation with her, Danielle stressed that the practice of law is about so much more than intellectual brilliance. Although there are many skills required for a lawyer to excel, there’s an argument to be made that a lawyer’s character is their most important asset.

What is it about the law or the legal profession that inspires you to be a part of this profession?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one factor. The beauty of the legal profession relates to how I can use my education to genuinely help others while enjoying my work. Over the years, I recognize that law, and specifically the practice of criminal law, is a perfect marriage between the human narrative that plays out in the specific lives of everyday individuals, and the ideals of justice.

Practicing law requires a solid understanding of academic principles expressed in a working knowledge of evidence and procedure. But that is not all. It also requires a sensitivity to practicality. In private practice at least, the client is not preoccupied with how well their lawyer recites the law. It is the results that matter for them. Practicing law requires a balance between knowing the law, client management and upholding your role as an officer of the court. There is a lot of responsibility intertwined with the privilege of being a lawyer. I have a lot more to learn as I have not mastered it all, but this balance is what I find most inspiring about this profession.

You volunteer as a coach for the BC Law Schools Competitive Moot. Tell about that experience.

I was invited to co-coach this moot in the fall of 2021, with its excellent past coach, Des MacMillan. I was fortunate to have an experienced and personable co-coach to work alongside during that first year. I continued coaching the moot this year with another great co-coach, Brad Smith, K.C., who also happens to be my mentor.

I loved the experience. The coaching experience is both academic and personable. As with any collaborative effort, the dynamics and relationship among group members and their coaches is integral. My hope in coaching this moot was to have the students learn from me as much as I learn from them. For example, the students have recently learned legal concepts that are far in the rearview mirror for the coaches. However, the coaches are able to transpose the students’ education with the skills required for courtroom practice to successfully make oral submissions.

What is unique about being a part of a moot team?

The moot is special because the students prepare for the final moot as if they are truly going to present legal arguments in an appellate court. In one sense, they really are. Justices of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of British Columbia have graciously dedicated their time to preside over the moot. I know the students are honoured to present to the justices. They value getting a sense of how appellate litigation is conducted. They also learn the nuances of practice that cannot be learned from reading textbooks. Importantly, they receive incisive and critical feedback that they can carry with them in their careers. The moot experience is no ordinary matter for the students. I imagine many of them will draw back on this experience in the future.

Kamloops hosted the BC Law Schools Competitive Moot this year. What opportunities does hosting this moot present for Kamloops and TRU Law?

It is always encouraging to see TRU Law host moots such as this one. Hosting this moot promotes TRU Law but also the understated beauty of Kamloops. TRU Law is one instantiation of the warmth and hospitality I associate with the city of Kamloops. I think that dynamic needs to be shared as much as possible. I have heard repeatedly how members of the legal profession note that TRU law students are markedly different from other graduates in their character and collegiality. That is something TRU Law should continue to foster and protect.

As you know, TRU Law recently had its 10th anniversary, an important milestone. What would you like to see achieved at TRU Law in the next 10 years?

It is encouraging to see TRU Law grow in the manner that it has. I hope to see a consistently diverse and dedicated student body at TRU Law. Although TRU Law is well received here in BC, I hope its reputation continues to entrench further east in Canada. I am continually inspired by the success of all my colleagues, past and present. I think if we succeed collectively, that impacts individuals who graduate TRU Law. As for TRU Law’s specific future achievements, my hope is discrete: while we have made great forays into ‘big law,’ I think our graduates can equally flourish in smaller firms or institutions locally and across the country.

What was the biggest takeaway from your education at TRU Law?

My biggest takeaway from TRU Law is that legal education is the first step in one’s career and one’s time at law school should be treasured. What I learned in law school does not always apply in practice, but the experience cannot be discounted. The collegial atmosphere of the law school as well as the quality of the professors at this faculty were invaluable. What I accomplished during and after law school was a result of my receiving excellent mentorship at TRU Law. I am forever grateful to the mentors in my legal education and career. Consequently, I believe the quality and degree of mentorship that law students receive can really determine their path forward.

Is there anything else you want to share with TRU Law alumni?

I am grateful for my time at TRU Law. I hope I can continue to contribute back to its community in the years to come. I also encourage any student who is on the fence about joining a moot to take the leap and try out for the BC Law Schools Competitive Moot. You won’t regret your decision!

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