After graduating from Queen’s law school, Sean Robichaud articled and worked in Toronto at what was then Pinkofskys, Canada’s largest criminal defence firm, making partner after two years. In 2009, he left the firm to start his own practice. Robichaud talks to PrecedentJD about life in one of law’s most high-stakes practice areas.
What kinds of cases do you handle?
Mostly sexual assaults, domestic violence, homicides and drug trafficking charges.
What do you love about criminal law?
I like how much is on the line. If I don’t do my job well, someone may go to jail for a long time. Also, as a criminal lawyer, there’s a roller coaster of emotions. People will cry; they will yell and get angry. And I have to admit I like the rush that comes with that. Not only do I like people, I like to see people in the whole spectrum of emotions.
Is it difficult to be in the midst of people’s lives when they’re in crisis?
No. I’ve always been somewhat sociopathic about that. That being said, there are instances when I can’t help but get caught up in the moment, but I still have to move on.
What are the hours like?
Our phones are always on. I take turns with my associate on what we call ‘the arrest line.’ People get arrested and they need legal advice right away. That’s just my life.
Do you enjoy that part of the job?
I do. There’s a certain cool factor about getting a call late at night. It makes you feel like you’re on television. Someone’s been shot and you’re giving advice. It’s all very Hollywood.
What salary can criminal lawyers expect in the first few years of practice?
Between $30,000 and $70,000. And it doesn’t grow much for associates: they practice for a few years and become Crown attorneys, partners or sole practitioners.
Tell me about your most memorable case.
I defended a young man, 16 years old. He was charged with first-degree murder, along with three other people. The other three were found guilty and my client was acquitted. He walked out of the box, and I haven’t seen him since, which, to me, is rewarding — because I know I can make a difference.