Duty Counsel Lawyer for Legal Aid NL
If you had told Dan Furey in January 2010 that a decade in the future he would be duty counsel at Provincial Court in St. John’s, he never would have believed you. Working at a private firm specializing in insurance defence, criminal law and legal aid was far from his mind. Dan began his practice at Curtis, Dawe, a private firm where he practiced primarily residential real estate and insurance litigation. After making a brief career change and working at Memorial University, he began working with Legal Aid NL in January 2016.
His first real experience with criminal law was in January 2010, during an articling rotation with the St. John’s office of Legal Aid NL, where he currently works. Most of that week was spent in courtroom number 7 and the holding cells at the courthouse. When he thinks back on it now, that week gave him a glimpse of his future. He spends his days assisting people in custody and those not in custody who are making first appearances.
“I am the primary point of contact for people at court. The majority of people who come to court have no idea where they are supposed to go, if they are supposed to speak, or even where they are supposed to sit. I try to assist people as best I can to make them feel more comfortable. I do bail hearings, sentencings, and appear on other applications.”
In addition to his current role as bail court duty counsel, he spent two years as youth duty counsel from 2019-2021. He took on the majority of files for young people charged with Criminal Code offences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
“Some of my most profound moments as a lawyer came during those years in youth court. Representing and assisting young people going through the court system has had a great effect on me and how I practice. While I have unfortunately encountered some of my former clients in the adult system, there are those I have assisted that I know have gone on to better lives and will never be involved in the criminal justice system again. On my desk is a card I received from a 14-year-old who I assisted several years ago. He and his family were thankful for the assistance I provided. It is something I will remember fondly for the rest of my career.”
While there are frustrations with the day-to-day minutiae of working in bail court, Dan truly enjoys his role. “I was not a practicing lawyer while I was working at Memorial and knew I wanted to get back to practice. The opportunity came up at Legal Aid NL in late 2015. I have frequently said it is the best career decision I have ever made. I love what I do now, and I am thankful that I get to assist people at court each day.”