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Steven Michelin, lawyer

James Hughes, avocat

My law partner, Me Steven Michelin, died on August 16th, 2001 (...). He was thirty-seven years old.

Steven was called to the Quebec Bar in 1991 (...). He practiced his entire ten years with his father, mentor, friend and occasional antagonist, John Michelin. I practiced with Steven from November 1995 onwards.

Steven never loved the law or its practice in the same way some of his confrères do. If asked, he would rather be tending to his beloved backyard ice rink (in winter) or coaching his son's baseball team (the rest of the year). (...). However, Steven practiced the profession as it should be practiced.

He was, first, last, and always, a solver of clients' problems. The characteristic that made him a brilliant problem solver was his humility. Humility let him hear and understand his clients' needs and objectives. It allowed him to sympathize with the opposing party's arguments. It also permitted him to accept a structured settlement proposed by someone other than himself.

When my partner got to Court, as he often did despite his best efforts, his deference to the Bench, politeness for witnesses and respect for opposing counsel were exemplary. I remember sneaking into the back of a Courtroom a few years ago to watch a few minutes of a trial he was conducting. As I walked in, Steven's confrère was attempting unsuccessfully to find a certain passage in a transcript for the purpose of cross-examination. Instead of allowing his confrère to stumble along, Steven stood up and helped his colleague find the relevant passage. The gesture was pure elegance.

Steven Michelin was not only a gentleman but a very funny man. His humor, dry, ironic and self-deprecating, disarmed many a client and confrère and diffused many a problem with his partners, staff and clients. (...).

He worked hard for his clients. It was a rare night that he didn't bring a bag of work home with him. He didn't love bringing the bag home but his integrity was too powerful to allow him to be under-prepa-red for a meeting or for Court. Once, he even showed up at a closing with (unknown to all of us) a curable but dangerous and painful case of meningitis. This kind of self-sacrifice was largely self-defining for Steven.

He gave his time to charities like Share the Warmth to which he was pro bono counsel. He treated stagiaires and junior lawyers with gentleness and respect. He accepted mandates from clients of all walks of life. He treated them with tact, without discrimination and without judgment. Steven Michelin was the least judgmental person I ever met.

Steven was born with a condition known as cystic fibrosis. Average CF sufferers do not live long into their thirties although Steven's activities were never limited or hampered by the ailment. CF was part of Steve's magic. It helped him live in the day, not in his plans for the future. It made moments more vital, more precious. It made being around him a sincere pleasure. It also made him ready, ironically, to take on the vasculitis that attacked him. Throughout his battle with causes and effects of the strokes, Steven acted as he always had, humbly, honorably and with laughter.

Although his clients have lost a fine lawyer, his courageous wife, Judith Litvack, his sons, Dylan and Quinn, his partners, friends and our profession have lost a great man. Shalom.