Mtre Nathalie Roy


Mtre Nathalie Roy : Free and committed
By Christine Aubé-Gagnon, lawyer

http://www.barreaudemontreal.qc.ca/images/infolettre/FigureMaitre/SOLLOWAY_Ian.jpgAdmitted to the Bar in 1991, Nathalie Roy is Executive Director and a founding member of Éducaloi, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the law and which is active in a number of projects throughout Quebec (schools, Internet, television, written press, etc.).

In June 2014, Mtre Roy received the Barreau du Québec Award of Merit, and, three months later, the Lawyer Emeritus (Ad. E.) distinction. She still talks about them with emotion and gratitude. Proud of belonging to a professional order that honours her in spite of all the ways she has challenged it, she takes this distinction to mean that she is authorized to remain critical of the Barreau she loves so much. And that is just as well, because she has every intention of continuing to do so!

Freedom and commitment

The path that brought Mtre Roy to these distinctions has two threads: her keen interest in law and access to justice, along with a deep need to love her job. Her advice to young people? “Stay free; stay free financially.” Beyond being free, she encourages young people to be agents of change, to be curious and involved.

Excited about politics, but doubting that she would be allowed to change the world into what she would like it to be, she poured her youthful energies into the law, convinced that she could change at least a small corner of the world that way. That “small corner of the world” actually seems to have become pretty large.

While she was articling, she realized that while she loved law, she was not suited to private practice. She therefore became a freelancer, very much in keeping with her desire for freedom, and carried out an impressively diverse list of mandates. These included spending nine months in a community organization where, with practically no resources (she had to literally craft her own legal information tools), she handled many requests for assistance.

The adventure begins

Together with her work, The Bar of Montreal, the Young Bar Association of Montreal (YBAM) and the Barreau du Québec gave her a thorough grounding in the legal profession.

In 1993, her curiosity was piqued by the challenge given by François D. Ramsay, then-President of the YBAM, in the YBAM’s magazine, seeking volunteers to import a French pro bono program. One phone call and one meeting later, the adventure began… From 1994 to 1997, she served on the Board of Directors of the YBAM and set up “I’ll talk to my lawyer on Wednesday,” a service still available today that offers young Quebecers ages 12 to 20 a chance to talk to a lawyer, wherever they are.

Éducaloi

In 1997, Mtre Roy became Assistant to the President of the Barreau du Québec, a position she held with Presidents Serge Francoeur, Jacques Fournier and Denis Jacques. Access to justice was already a hot topic. Concerned about the need to make legal information simpler and easier to access, she insisted that legal information and education were the basic elements of access to justice. The project that became Éducaloi started to take shape in her mind. At her initiative, the organization was set up by the Barreau du Québec in 2000 and she was made its Executive Director.

With Éducaloi, Mtre Roy wants to bring about concrete change. To her way of thinking, the purpose of a non-profit organization is not just to not make a profit, but to make sure that each dollar raised is used effectively, for the benefit of the organization’s mission. For instance, the revenues generated by the editing – that is, the translation into plain language – of the Quebec Automobile Insurance Policy Form, with the Autorité des marchés financiers, were reinvested in the organization so that it could pursue its mission.

Confronted by skeptics worried about the access to legal content that Éducaloi offers the general public, Mtre Roy is unshakeable. What lawyer, if given a medical diagnosis, would not go on the Internet to read up on it? It has become a reflex, even though people know they cannot believe everything they see on the Internet. That is why it is important to offer quality content.

Freedom to commit to the future

There is still much to do in terms of access to justice, and Mtre Roy intends to do her share, just as she hopes to contribute to culture, which is changing as a result of instant access to a vast array of information. She was one of 100 specialists recently invited by the Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas A. Cromwell to a reflection on access to justice in Canada.

Faced with so many needs, her response is to get involved, and she encourages her colleagues to do the same. She speaks of a feeling of belonging. “If someone chooses the law as a profession, he or she must believe that law is what underpins what justice involves,” she says. Based on this disarmingly simple premise, isn’t it necessary to help promote access to justice? Isn’t it impossible not to be involved?

Mtre Roy, in addition to inspiring those around her, also encourages them into action. An example is Norton Rose Fulbright, which has offered Éducaloi pro bono hours of work to protect the organization’s copyright.

Present commitments

Éducaloi continues to be an amazing tool to help people understand how justice works. Even if she leaves Éducaloi one day, Mtre Roy will always be there for the organization: perhaps without her Executive Director’s hat, but with the same verve, energy and fresh ideas. She points out that everyone can help Éducaloi pursue its mission, by donating time or money (www.educaloi.qc.ca/don) or by attending benefit events (the next will be on March 17, 2016). All money is invested in legal information and education activities. In 2014, this money made it possible to enrich the high school history program by adding a legal perspective.

In addition to the distinctions received from her professional order, Mtre Roy was chosen in 2006 as the Socially Responsible Young Quebec Business Leader in the ARISTA BMO competition organized by the Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal.

Obviously, this inspiring lawyer’s journey is recognized, appreciated and respected far beyond the profession.

A powerful incentive to follow her example and be involved.
The possibilities are endless!