We are Justice

Patrick Vézina and Renée Soublière

Photo of Patrick Vézina and Renée Soublière

Renée Soublière and Patrick Vézina are a couple who are proof you can have both a stimulating career at the Department of Justice Canada and great work-life balance.

Renée, Senior Counsel and Litigation Coordinator, Official Languages Law Group, and Patrick, Director and General Counsel, Legal Risk Management Division, met in 2000, at the suggestion of a mutual acquaintance, who would often talk about one to the other.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of them, and when Renée and Patrick finally met, it was love at first sight.

Renée and Patrick see no disadvantages to working for the same department. Before they had children, they enjoyed walking to and from work together, while discussing their respective days.

Their professional paths didn’t cross until September 2009, when they began having joint meetings.

"It is important to find one's balance, and the Department will respect it," says Patrick. “The Department functions when everyone does their part. When you love what you do, it’s not an effort.”

Renée's first stint at Justice was an internship during her second year of law school, with the same group she is part of today. She was sworn in as a lawyer on February 16, 2000, and began her career at the Department the very next day.

Renée and Patrick are proud to work for Justice, and they recognize that the Department offers its employees the flexibility they need to have a balanced family life.

Her work is diverse – legal opinions, litigation support, policy, orientation, training and management – and she admires the large number of colleagues she can learn from and grow with.

Renée also had the privilege of being part of the first cohort of the Justice Leaders of Tomorrow Program – an initiative for employees who are intent on developing their leadership and management potential with the aim of becoming future leaders in the Department.

What she finds both exciting and motivating are the underlying values that frame her daily work. She loves to contribute.

“I feel I’m contributing to Canadian society and to the values I embody, and that’s what makes me happy in my work.”

From the beginning of his career, Patrick wanted to argue cases. He decided that the best place to learn was in the Department of Justice, and he feels he was right, as he was quickly entrusted with many interesting files.

In 1995, Patrick was a litigator at the Atlantic Regional Office, which enabled him to explore all of Canada’s Atlantic provinces.

He moved to Ottawa in 1998 to practise civil litigation. Since then, he has held a number of positions, including Chief of Staff within the Tax Law Portfolio. In September 2009, he was appointed Director and General Counsel of the Legal Risk Management Division.

Patrick’s division is responsible for the development and coordination of national policies and tools that support the integrated and efficient identification, assessment, communication, prevention, mitigation and management of legal risks in government. 

He says it is both gratifying and pleasant to work with a team of passionate professionals, and he appreciates the way of thinking at the Department, the collegiality rather than emphasis on hierarchy, which reflects his personal style.

He recalls how, at the beginning of his career, he was consulting Supreme Court decisions and required additional information on a case. Patrick found the litigator’s name and called him directly, and the man at the end of the line took the time to speak with him and help him over the telephone.

The litigator was none other than Ivan Whitehall, then-Chief General Counsel of the Department – the government’s top litigator. For Patrick, that said it all.

Renée and Patrick feel they have adopted a balanced lifestyle.

Although their careers can demand a lot of time and energy, they maintain their perspective as professionals and as a couple. They understand and help one another.

With a four-year-old son, Laurent, and an eighteen-month-old daughter, Béatrice, their challenge is the same as that of many couples – coordinating schedules to accommodate daycare and the children.

Renée and Patrick are proud to work for Justice, and they recognize that the Department offers its employees the flexibility they need to have a balanced family life.

"We feel we have it all by working here: extremely interesting files and work, and the possibility of maintaining a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle," says Renée.

The couple has some words of wisdom for young lawyers starting their career.

Renée underscores the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to interact with colleagues.

"Take advantage of what the Department has to offer. Shine. And get to know people who speak the other official language."

As for Patrick, he states "Love what you do, because life is too short. Find your balance." And he adds, smiling, "Manage the risks."

Photo of Patrick Vézina and Renée Soublière