Friday, 24 September 2021

Bye Bye Robes


In all my years of writing this blog, I have never revealed my profession but now that I'm retired and well out of the work force, I can confess admit say that I was a lawyer for nearly four decades.

In Canada, the legal profession follows the British tradition of wearing barristers' robes when conducting matters in a superior court (but not in a lesser court or before an administrative tribunal). Luckily, the British practice of wearing those godawful white horsehair wigs was phased out in Canada eons before I became a lawyer.

Custom-fitted barristers' robes are an expensive proposition, whether 40 years ago or today. Buying them can be a real financial hardship for young lawyers, especially those of us who worked our way through law school and came out burdened with maximum student loans. So when I was called to the Manitoba Bar at the beginning of my career, my family pooled their resources and generously purchased robes for me as a gift. Here I am on the day of my Call, wearing brand-spanking-new robes --


My robes got a fair amount of use while I was in private practice but once I switched to a legal policy and legislative practice, no courtroom work was required so my robes were sidelined. Midway through my career, however, I moved to Edmonton and was called to the Alberta Bar as well. Once again my robes were needed for the courtroom ceremony. I'm pleased to say that everything still fit!


But when I retired, I faced a dilemma. What should I do with my robes? It's not like I could just put them on kijiji or drop them off at Goodwill! Luckily, news came just then from the Law Society of Alberta that a Crown Prosecutor had started a "Robes Bank" at the Edmonton and Calgary courthouses so that young lawyers, or lawyers who only occasionally appeared in court, could temporarily borrow a set of donated robes as needed and avoid the expense of buying their own. What a terrific (and long-overdue) idea!

So my robes, still in darn good condition despite their age, got bundled into a garment bag and donated to the Edmonton Robes Bank. I'm very pleased with that outcome.

Here's my last view of my faithful robes.

Going . . . 


Going . . .


Gone!


I hope they serve other lawyers well in the years to come.

67 comments:

G. B. Miller said...

On a lighter note, I can understand why the word, "ummm..." was your part and parcel answer to the question of "what do you do for a living?" as I would have the same problem if I actually answered the question of "who do you work for?" (note, I worked for a child protection services in a clerical capacity).

On a serious note, hopefully your version of the legal beagles was/is less maligned than ours, and that you had a fabulous career to look back on.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

OMG Congrats!!!
Yay for retirement! Bet it feels amazing.
And you looked super nice in that robe! Very professional.

XOXO

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a great idea and so helpful. The Blog Tech is in his second year of law school now. i never see him!

Frank said...

Impressive on multiple levels! And it's always good to recycle usable items, especially for a good cause.

Boud said...

What a great idea. I had no notion that the robes were so expensive. Sneaky confession: i think the white wigs were quite sexy. They certainly made ordinary looking people impressive. But I expect they were hot and itchy to wear and how to maintain them??

So I count yet another lawyer among my friends. I had thought maybe a teacher or therapist. Both of which maybe a lawyer has to be at times, come to think of it.

Anyway thank you for letting your robes go to a good home. And I hope your loans are long since paid up!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ jaz@octoberfarm -- "The Law is a jealous mistress." I was wondering where the Blog Tech had gotten to on your blog! All is clear now! Good luck to him in law school!

Travel said...

What a wonderful idea. In the USA only Judges wear robes, one of the Judges in the court I once practiced in, did some research and found that there was a tradition but really no rule on colors, everyone wore black or dark blue, but he started wearing a rainbow of colors.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Boud -- Sexy horsehair wigs? Well, "to each their own," LOL. And yes, it only took me 10 years to pay off my student loans. Interest rates were sky high back in those days and I paid them off at nearly 16% interest. It was like financing my education on a bloody credit card! But it was worth every single penny in the long run, of course.

Kay G. said...

A lawyer! Oh, I should have guessed it-such a marvelous mind you have.
And I would like to reveal that my profession is a brain surgeon.
JUST KIDDING!! (But you knew that already.)
Wonderful thing to donate your robes.

BootsandBraids said...

Closing a chapter, end of an era so to speak as you pack up those robes. But you did look cute in 'em. Reminds me of the week I retired. I tossed my nylons, packed up all my high heel shoes and suits (secretarial wear), donated those items to an organization that was looking to clothe women just heading into the workforce, and I've been in leggings and Birkenstocks ever since.

Mistress Maddie said...

Your so adorable!!!! And that must be a peace of mind that the river will have a good use... Considering the goldmine to get them!!! Now I would be opposed to seeing you in those wigs either!!! lol

Ol'Buzzard said...

Sometimes it is time to let go. The day I retired from the military, I took off my dress uniform with medals, hung it on the coat rack beside the Commanding Officers door, road off the base and started a new life. I don't wear a ball cap commemorating my service - I think it is kind of sad.
A lawyer: wow. I envy you. I would have liked to have been a trial lawyer; but life is not long enough to do every thing we wish.
the Ol'Buzzard

LL Cool Joe said...

It must feel sad to know that chapter of your life is over, but really good to know that someone else is going to benefit from your robes.

Bob said...

I never would have guessed you'd been a lawyer, I was inclined to think teacher or shaman or artist ...though you are, in fact, all of those things.
OS You really rocked the robes!

Debi said...

Well my second shock in a week ( first when Patti Smith responded to me) Exciting, impressive, profession especially for a woman. Is there a book in the works?
Political asperations? I had better up my blogging skills to have such an esteemed follower.
Sorry, my profession or life could have used a lawyer a time or two.
You were very striking in your robes and a credit to the justice system.
Wow!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Was that a difficult thing to do - quite a closure. I didn't reveal my profession on my blog for a few years either. I think donating your robes was an excellent idea for those up and coming. -Jenn

Deedles said...

Lawyer, huh? And here I thought stripper with a heart of gold and a butt to match! My fantasies are ruined, I tell ya! I suppose I can start putting superheroes together in romantic match ups (there's a word for that somewhere). Not as much fun though. Maddie's right, you're adorable.

bobbie said...

A worthy cause indeed!!

Busy Bee Suz said...

Impressive! And of course, I love the idea of paying it forward with the robe borrowing. Hopefully, a lot of your wisdom is still within the robes and that will be passed on to the next generation as well.

Moving with Mitchell said...

What a great thing to do with the robes. Midway through your career, you looked exactly the same! Congratulations on retirement. And thank you for enabling me to add another lawyer I like to my list. It was a very short list recently.

Parnassus said...

Hello Counselor Debra, Apparently what you have been seeking all this time has been the Verdict. I had actually thought of something in the legal line for you--something that required a commanding grasp of a complex system. Did your clients ever object to sacrificing goats on the altar of Bastet?
-
I think you looked handsome in your robes, and very professional--there is certainly a lot of value in that. In the last photo of the body bag--I mean garment bag, there is evidently something in there besides the robes. You can certainly see an arm showing. I hope that the Edmonton Robes Bank isn't in for some surprise!
--Jim

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Debi -- Gawd no, I have no political aspirations. Besides, my political career would last all of five minutes before someone would put two-and-two together and find this blog. Political suicide, LOL! And no book is in the works either. Too much work. Blogging is more my speed.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Deedles -- Stripper with a heart of gold was my SECOND career choice!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Moving With Mitchell -- Doesn't EVERYBODY like lawyers? Hahahahahahaha!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Parnassus (Jim) -- You're now an accessory after the fact, you know. See you in the Big House, stoolie!

Linda said...

Extremely impressed! You looked great in your robes both times and I love what will become of them. I hope some young, scrappy gal gets them and channels your spirit while she makes her way through the legal world.

Lady M said...

I don't know why I thought you were a teacher. I think a robe bank is a brilliant idea. I wish they would do that for graduation robes too.

Marie Smith said...

What a great way to recycle and help young lawyers! You looked great in your robes!

This N That said...

Great idea..I actually thought of that while I was reading your post about how hard it was for you to purchase them in the beginning..Wonder why nobody thught of that before..It's like passing down college text books in the old days..Good for you!!! Great pics!!

brewella deville said...

I flipping knew it!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ brewella deville -- In a good way or a bad way, LOL?

Terra said...

I like how your robes will have a second life now; recycling at its finest.

Richard said...

I'm proud of you.I try to live in a way that doesn't require lawyers, but if i ever need one, i would like one like you.

Thank you very much.
I always enjoy visiting this place, and i like your altars.

Corn Mother upset me a little because personal reasons.

DVArtist said...

Wow and congratulations. I would never have guessed you were a lawyer. You did a good job of hiding it. You look beautiful.

Tundra Bunny said...

So you WEREN'T A DRUG MULE?! I'm so disappointed in you Debra, but at least you recycled your robes for a good cause. Plus, you're out of the closet again, LOL!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Richard -- I'm sorry that the Corn Mother Altar caused you some upset. The post was intended to celebrate the generosity of Corn Mother and the First Nations culture from which she comes. But everyone's personal response is valid because it is their own.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Tundra Bunny -- Yeah, I'm just bustin' out ALL OVER, aren't I?

Mike said...

Does this mean I should cut back on lawyer jokes on Saturday jok... Bwahahahahahah ... Nope.

I guess donating was the right thing to do. But it would make a great Halloween outfit.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Mike -- No need to restrain yourself. NOBODY loves lawyer jokes more than LAWYERS! On a more serious note, the possibility that legal robes could be used for a disrespectful purpose (like a Halloween costume) or a fraudulent purpose (impersonating a lawyer in court) is precisely why they cannot just be donated to second-hand clothing organizations. It would constitute professional misconduct to so negligently dispose of your robes.

Laurie said...

I’m quite certain you were one mighty fine lawyer,, it’s good of you to pass the robes on, good karma. ❤️👍

Joanne Noragon said...

Well done, donating those robes. Well done, too, still fitting them the second time around.

Barbara said...

You little rascal, we never knew. So glad you were able to donate the robe. I had no idea they were so expensive. Just crazy because lawyers are so poor when they start out.

Kirk said...

For some reason I already knew you were a lawyer. If you've never mentioned it here, then maybe it was in the comment section of somebody else's blog?

Given your politics and whatnot, I also figured you were more likely a civil rights than a corporate attorney, assuming such distinctions exist in Canada. If you don't want to say, well, that's all right, I'll live.

Linda said...

I always thought that you might be a university professor, so I was wrong in my guessing. :)
I'm pretty sure that one of my former boss's robes didn't look as good as yours anymore when he retired (I worked in a law office for many years and for different lawyers - as a legal secretary), he always tossed them on a chair when he got back from the court at noon and was rather sloppy with them.
What a great initiative to open a robe bank for young lawyers! Now your robes can continue the tradition, it's such a nice thought.
I have to say that I'm glad that those wigs used in the U.K. aren't tradition in Canada anymore, it must be awful to have those things on your head for hours lol.

Miss Val's Creations said...

What a sassy robe with the bow detail! You must have some amazing stories to tell after years of law practice. That is awesome that there is a now a program for the robes so newbies do not have to worry about the expense.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ Kirk -- No, I was never a corporate lawyer. The firm I was with in private practice did a lot of civil rights work but most of my career was spent working for government and government agencies doing legal policy and legislative work. It always involved rights and responsibilities generally, but not necessarily the exciting front-line stuff.

e said...

What a great idea that 'someone' had to upcycle robes for new lawyers. Such a sensible way to keep those garments out of the waste stream.

It's great that you are looking back and forward at the same time. Going, going, gone!

Cynthia said...

What, no cute li'l wig? Glad the robes will appear in court again.

Cynthia said...

PS. We could have used a woman like you on our Supreme Court.

Mica said...

It's impressive you had such a long career as a lawyer! I hope you enjoy your retirement.

it's really nice that there is a program set up to reuse the robes too - it's good you could pass yours on to it.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend :) We had a fun day at the playground yesterday.

Away From The Blue

peppylady (Dora) said...

Thank you for donating them. I don't know much about how Canadian legal system works.
Coffee is on and stay safe

Ur-spo said...

Marvelous!
Thank you for sharing this.

judee said...

Thank you for an interesting read about the "robes" worn in court in Canada. Being an American, I had no idea. Such a good idea to be able to donate for others to wear and spare the great expense for those who only need them occasionaly. Hope you enjoy your retirement.

RO said...

Wow! This is truly fascinating info, and I love the history behind the robes. How kind of you to donate to those in need, and such a great idea. Kudos and hugs, RO

Susan said...

And a cracking good lawyer, I bet you were! I am, though, disappointed that there was no wig involved. Horsehair? Really? No wonder British barristers look so dour I bet their heads are itching.

ashok said...

Glad to visit your blog...have a great retired life

Barwitzki said...

What wonderful stories life writes and how beautifully we can fill them ourselves.
I think you will be very satisfied and I can understand very well that there was a crying eye when we said goodbye.
Many greetings to you. I wish you a happy week. Viola

miruspeg said...

Welcome to the second phase of your life Debra.
I knew you were/are a smart cookie with a wonderful sense of humour, by the way you write.
Thanks for sharing so much about yourself.
Big big hugs my friend.
Peggy xxxx

Magaly Guerrero said...

No wonder you argue so much! Just kidding... maybe.

What a great idea to donate your robes. I did the same with my dress uniform, when I left the military, because they are really expensive too.

I hope retirement involves lots and lots and lots of fun, my dear Debra.

Onevikinggirl said...

It takes one to know one, although robeless and courtavoiding.

baili said...

wow you were such a gorgeous lady and you are still indeed with your lovely exciting attitude :)

thank you for telling your profession dear Debra ,i wanted to know it though mostly i thought you are creative teacher i wonder why .
i love your way of thinking and how you put your energy in art and martial art and i love your humor as well .

how nice you donated your robes now .
hugs and blessings!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I had no idea that you did that kind of job. Proud of you to be one of the good ones.

Fundy Blue said...

You look so distinguished in your barrister's robes, Debra! Kudos to you for donating them to a robes bank to help others. You give me hope that I may be able to pare more books from my collection. I'm sure your robes meant a great deal to you and were rich with memories.

brewella deville said...

In the best way, Debra. You can't hide a good mind.

Rommy said...

Congrats on your retirement! I have members of my extended family who are lawyers (including one niece currently attending law school), but here in the US no one requires robes unless they are a judge.

Liz Hinds said...

Well I never! And what an obvious and, as you say, long-overdue, initiative. Glad your robes will have a good worthy home.

Magic Love Crow said...

Wow Deb!!!! Congrats! Good for you! I remember asking once, if you were a teacher. I was always fascinated with all your knowledge! Now I know where it all came from! LOL! Love the photos!! So happy your robes will help others now! Big Hugs!