Ottawa Trial Lawyer Joseph Griffiths: Just Advocacy

Joseph Griffiths, founder of Ottawa’s Equilibrium Law, has built a career out of helping the disenfranchised when they need it the most. But in an age in which calling attention to oneself is as ritualized as getting out of bed or brushing one’s teeth, he shuns the reflexive convention of social media-based self-aggrandizement. 

Take his website. It’s a model of concision: a carefully concentrated, two-page description of the firm’s services—litigation, advocacy—whose taut design and taciturn copy lets prospective clients know that it is a serious, focused enterprise. And don’t go looking for a showy biography of Griffiths. As the site makes soberly clear, it’s about the client, not him as a lawyer.

Part of this is humility. As a staunch advocate for victims of sexual and other genres of exploitation, Griffiths has been humbled by the shockingly widespread abasement he has heard, investigated, and been forced to detail in a variety of Ottawa courtrooms. Part of it, too, is integrity. Exploitation and abuse are not aspects of dysfunctional interpersonal relations to be taken lightly, to be fought against just for money, or to be invested in with anything short of a resolute belief in the inherent right to an unoppressed life.

All of this to say that Griffith’s voice is not his own. Yes, he’s used it before judges and juries—and in classrooms, as a former and respected part-time professor of trial advocacy. But it’s the voice of his clients, stitched from first-person accounts of trauma and breaches of trust, which he contextualizes in tenets earned from his gold-star education and the victories he has won for people subjected to circumstances beyond the capabilities of their own defense.

Since 2002, Griffiths has righted wrongs in the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Divisional Court, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of British Columbia, among others. He’s battled sexual exploitation, elder abuse, medical negligence, and professional malpractice. He has protected his clients’ interests, managed their risk, and contained their legal costs. And he has collected testimonials from them akin to the kinds of write-ups other lawyers pen for their own preening purposes. “Joseph is sharp,” wrote one client.  “He’s a confident lawyer who understands the value of resolving disputes efficiently. He has the ability to think creatively and explore all avenues. Any client would be lucky to have him represent them.”

Griffiths’ course, which he taught at the University of Ottawa Law School for more than 10 years—and from which he graduated in 2000—earned him similar respect. He taught trial preparation, including opening and closing statements, examinations in chief, cross-examinations, and the delicate art of impeaching witnesses. “Joseph Griffiths was one of the most knowledgeable, intelligent, articulate, and reasonable professors I have had the privilege of studying under,” wrote one appreciative student.

Equilibrium’s website may be terse, but it’s nitty-gritty does speak of “extensive knowledge,” a wide range of “experience,” and the importance of capitalizing on those assets to refine a single focus: advocacy. “Just advocacy,” it concludes. “It’s all we do.”

So it’s all Joseph Griffiths does, for you, for the next generation of lawyers, and for a rightly recalibrated world. 

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