By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — Farm country can always use more farmers. But another area of expertise, an uncommon interest for farm kids, would be a great benefit to farmers: the law.
But agriculture lawyers are few and far between, say two prominent Ontario agriculture lawyers.
Last year, London-based Western University started tracking where its incoming law students came from. Of 176 new law students in 2017, only 15 came from an area with a population under 20,000.
It’s a problem that Ottawa-based agriculture lawyer Don Good, who’s been in the practice for decades, is quite familiar with. Good used to run a program with the University of Guelph in the hopes of coaxing farm kids into law. Good would bring students to court with him, and by the end of it, he thought that he’d gotten at least a couple interested in studying law. But the university dropped the program more than 10 years ago.
It would be fairly difficult to have just an Eastern Ontario practice if all you were doing was farm law, he said. You have to handle other cases or cover a larger area, he said.
Do what you enjoy for your undergrad, get good marks and you’ve got a shot at law school, Ottawa ag lawyer Kurtis Andrews said. Having a farm background makes a difference. Andrews said he’s dealt with very intelligent and knowledgeable lawyers who’ve made comments about farming that make no sense to him. “You’ll be talking about something that’s common knowledge as a rural issue and they have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “You may find yourself having to prove something very basic,” like how often you milk your cows in a day.
“It’s in agriculture’s interest to have lawyers from a farming background, and the more the better,” Andrews said.