Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies
Degree: Social Service Worker
Year of graduation: 2005
As a criminal defence lawyer, Stephen Jack advocates for the fundamental rights of others on a daily basis. It’s part of his passion for social justice that was nurtured during his days as a student in
Sheridan’s Social Service Worker program.
“I wanted to assist others in overcoming challenges in their lives, says Stephen, who grew up in Burlington and now lives in Toronto where he runs his own practice. He followed up his Sheridan diploma (2005) with a Bachelor of Social Work (Ryerson) and a Masters of Social Work (York) before joining the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton. Fascinated by how social and legal issues intersect, Stephen was spurred on to enter law school, graduating from Dalhousie University in 2012. He explains: “While our laws may not always turn out to be fair, our legal system does provide us with an opportunity to correct social injustices and help contribute to social change.”
Stephen maintains that his social services background has impacted the way he practices law. “It is essential to be non-judgmental and to show compassion for clients. It is also critical to leave your emotions at the courtroom door and advocate for your client to the best of your ability, based upon the law and the facts of the case.”
What’s more, he adds, “Lawyers, just like social workers, often have to be creative in finding appropriate solutions to the problems before them.”
For his part, Stephen expresses concern about Canada’s growing incarceration rate and mandatory minimum sentences. “In 1996, our sentencing principles included the idea of restorative justice, and yet today we seem to be further away from that concept than we were then.”
But he knows the value of patience and persistence in effecting change. “Individual, community and societal shifts don’t happen overnight. Change is a process, not an isolated event such as switching a light on and off.”
Learn more about Sheridan’s Social Service Worker program.