I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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It depends … why do lawyers always say that?

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Client: I have a quick question for you. … Can I do <enter question that seems perfectly straightforward to client>?

Lawyer:  hmmmmm.  It depends.

Client: Grrrrrrrr.  Why can you never just tell me yes or no?!

We all know this dance.  Clients ask questions. Lawyers give equivocal answers. Why does this happen?

Honestly, we the legal people of the world aren’t trying to frustrate you with our “it depends” answers.  But just so that you know, many times there is no yes/no option.  The law isn’t an on/off switch.

Many times, a legal answer depends on:

  • Further background information – we need to know all the details to help you come to an answer
  • Who is doing what – some folks are allowed to do things that would be absolutely prohibited if done by others
  • What has happened
  • How much risk you are willing to accept (or not)
  • What you want to achieve because often without knowing it, you may be asking us the wrong question for what you actually want to do

Lawyers are trained to advise. We do not make your decisions for you. Our goal is to help you get to where you want to go and for you to understand the risks and benefits of getting there.

When working with a lawyer who answers, “it depends”, I invite you to follow up with:

  1. Here’s what I want the outcome to be … how do I get there?
  2. What else do you need to know?
  3. What are my options?

Let your legal counsel help develop your knowledge, skills and judgement.  We are your partners in finding solutions.


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Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events
December 11, January 16-17

For Primary Care clinics, Children’s Aid and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from many more primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

Speaking event February 4, 2020

Osgoode Professional Development – Health Law Certificate

Kate joins the faculty for this training event. More details...

Primary care webinars: Employment Law Update & Legal Issues for EDs and Board members

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our December webinar is an employment law update, and the January program is a legal update for EDs and Board members.
Full details of the 2020 webinar series and registration here.

Advanced Privacy Officer training
December 10, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Osgoode Health Privacy training
January 20 & 27 and February 3,10 & 18, 2020

Kate is the program chair for the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy in Healthcare.

This program explores the range of privacy interests that must be protected in the day-to-day treatment of patients, the development of information systems and the creation of institutional policies. More details...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!
December 4 (cancelled) but back January 8

Free webinars - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experienced privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

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