Noah Evanchuk: Little Lebowski urban achiever
Queen City attorney Noah Evanchuk recently caught up with the Carillon to talk about his life in law.
If you had to pick one fictional lawyer to compare yourself to, who would that be?
Fictional lawyer? Oh boy, that’s a question I’ve never really thought about. But, Atticus Finch.
At least in To Kill a Mockingbird – I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet – where there are apparently some bigoted opinions portrayed. As a lawyer, I often have to take on unpopular cases and the interest of justice often supersedes personal popularity. I think Atticus Finch is the gold standard fictional account of what a lawyer should do when facing, in quotation marks, the entertainment tax.
Why is there a negative connotation attached to your profession?
I don’t know if there’s necessarily a negative connotation. You do surveys about what people think about any profession, be it people in the media, lawyers or bankers, and [they could come up with negative results]. People can have perceptions of lawyers that aren’t positive. But I can tell you this much: Nobody seems to dislike me when they come to my office, seeking my assistance (laughs).
So the negative perception isn’t deserved?
As a profession, all lawyers swear an oath to be zealous advocates for their clients… We self-regulate ourselves – it’s a self-regulated profession. We focus on the protection of the public, and we’re harder on ourselves as a self-regulating profession than any other profession, in my view. It’s fine to tell lawyer jokes. Lawyers do that to ourselves – it’s tongue-in-cheek. But when it comes to the public perception of our profession, like I said, the moment the chips are down and someone needs a lawyer, they don’t hate us that much.
Why are you a lawyer, simply enough?
Why I decided to go to law school is the better question. I decided to go to law school because I had an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Calgary, and I wanted to get out of Calgary. I’m a left-wing guy that went to a right-wing political science school, and I didn’t want to do my masters degree in Calgary. It seemed like the next logical step in my life. And, once you get your law degree, you might as well try to nut it out practicing law (laughs).
Was there a back-up plan?
That’s the one thing. And this is what I’d advise anyone looking at what they want to do as a career, is to never have a singular focus on how the rest of your life is going to go when you’re 21 years old. I certainly didn’t… I spent a number of years working in the oil fields and I decided it would be better off for me to have a job where I don’t risk a serious injury on a daily basis. There are many different ways I could’ve gone, and I certainly didn’t have tunnel vision for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
How rewarding of a career is this for you?
In all seriousness, it depends on the day. I have a lot of frustration in terms of laws that get passed. Being a lawyer has both made me more acutely aware of the socio-economic problems facing our country. It’s also made me have a huge mistrust towards state action. It’s made me more empathetic, and it’s made me more cynical. Being a lawyer can be rewarding in a number of different ways. It’s opened my mind, that’s for sure. It’s made me appreciate, above all else, freedom of expression. It’s made me question the abilities of the state to legislate on people’s rights and freedoms. It’s probably overall made me a better progressive intellectual.
How would you like to be remembered when it’s all said and done?
A good dad, a hell of a guy, a big memory for Big Lebowski quotes (laughs).
(Laughs) What about from a professional standpoint?
The answer I’d give to that is you want to be remembered as a zealous advocate who was ethical. Someone who gave every ounce of effort for his clients, but did so ethically and honestly. I’d like to be remembered as a lawyer whose word was gold.