Finding the right word: How a legal practitioner expresses legislative intent

In this video, Aleksander Hynna discusses how he became interested in legislative drafting. Closed captions available.

Understanding as deeply as possible the idea we are trying to convey and then expressing it in the best possible way through words. This fundamental challenge — faced by all jurists — is of great interest to Aleksander Hynna and is at the heart of his work as General Counsel with the Legislative Services Branch at the Department of Justice Canada.

After several years in private practice, Mr. Hynna realized that he was not interested in being a litigator. He did, however, enjoy the process of drafting legal texts and finding the right words to express ideas or strengthen a point of law. It was this interest that led him to a career in legislative drafting at the Department of Justice Canada. Mr. Hynna is a member of the Legislative Services Branch, which provides advice and drafts laws and regulations for the Government of Canada. Mr. Hynna’s job is to express, in words, “the intention of the legislator” on behalf of the Government of Canada, in addition to providing advice to Cabinet and to government departments on how legislation should be structured.

As Mr. Hynna notes, the role of a legislative counsel requires a very specialized set of skills. But it’s a role that also exposes those who choose this path to a multitude of legal fields as they may be called upon to address a wide range of legislative and regulatory texts in their practice. Ultimately, it is an ideal area of practice for those who appreciate finding the right word!

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