Thompson Rivers University

TRU Law alumni feature: Jay Michi

January 22, 2024

In this alumni spotlight, we feature Jay Michi from the class of 2014. Michi was called to the bar in 2015 and practices criminal law throughout Interior BC, with a focus on complex cases. He was recently elected as Law Society of BC bencher for the District of Kamloops, making him the first TRU Law alum to receive this honor.

  1. You’ve been practicing criminal law for nearly a decade. Tell us a little about your practice and what you find challenging and rewarding about your experience in the profession so far.

I love the practice of criminal law! Almost all my work in the past 10 years has been criminal law-focused and at the trial level. I’ve only been to the BC Court of Appeal twice and I lost both times. But I have had many trial wins and, in fact, many of the things we consider wins aren’t just from getting acquittals. Lots of little wins are often found in sentencing and bail hearings as well, which are really the three core components of criminal law: bail hearings, trials and sentencing hearings (if applicable).

The practice of criminal law is fast-paced and dynamic. The file turnover is fast (at least in the beginning) and at times it can feel like you are not just a lawyer, but also a social worker and an air-traffic controller all rolled into one. But overall, I find the practice of criminal law to be equal parts intriguing, stimulating, challenging, maddening, draining and enriching!

  1. Were there any courses or experiences during your time at TRU Law that significantly influenced your decision to practise criminal law?

I think I was hooked from the very beginning. Micah Rankin was my crim instructor in 1L (that was the inaugural year of TRU Law) and it was easily my favorite of the core classes. I took evidence with him as well in 2L, and then (I believe) advanced crim with Professor Robert Diab. In my third year, I did the charter seminar course with Michah Rankin, and then criminal procedure with Tim Livingston. Maybe 3L was when I did advanced crim? It’s getting to be a blur. All those courses were key to my early success in the practice. I am close with all three of those professors still. I’ve worked on a number of cases with Professor Diab.

  1. Are there any key milestones or experiences from your education or time in practice that have shaped your approach to criminal defense?

There have been lots of little milestones. Obviously, the convocation from TRU Law was huge, as was my bar-call. Doing my first murder trial was significant. I became a partner just before COVID-19, of course, that was a milestone, albeit in the middle of some personal strife. And then most recently, I was elected bencher!

  1. Congratulations on becoming the newest bencher for Kamloops district! Tell us about your decision to run for bencher, and what you’re looking forward to in this role.

I decided to run for bencher because of the impending changes to the Legal Professions Act. After reading the Cayton Report (2021) and the government’s Intensions Paper (2022) I realized that the days of the benchers might soon be coming to an end.

I was deeply honoured that the Kamloops bar — many of whom are now TRU Law alumni — entrusted me with the responsibility of representing the district at the Law Society of BC. My goals are largely focused on what is happening in the region.

I am currently working with a small group of lawyers to update and revitalize the barristers’ lounge at the courthouse. To be candid, it is stuck in the 1980s. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

I am also involved in the Kamloops Inns of the Court program, which is a program developed here in Kamloops in 2016, based on similar programs in Vancouver and Victoria, which are in turn based on programs from England. It is an old tradition. The concept is to have three dinners a year where younger lawyers dine with and learn from senior members of the bar and judges while taking in some presentations and demonstrations of direct examinations, cross-examinations, closing submissions, ethics, practice management and everything in between. The program is geared toward lawyers with one-to-seven years’ call but is also open to articling students.

  1. As you know, TRU Law will soon celebrate the tenth anniversary of its first graduating class. As someone who was a part of that class, what is special about this milestone to you?

I am really looking forward to this event! I was the inaugural president of the SLS, and as such I knew everyone in our class, and have stayed in touch with many of them. It will be great to reconnect with those that I haven’t been able to stay in touch with, and to see how people are developing, both professionally and personally.

  1. As we celebrate the law school’s 10-year anniversary, what would you like to see achieved at TRU Law in the next decade?

I came back to TRU for a number of years to help teach trial advocacy during block week. I absolutely loved that experience. I understand that block week has been repealed and that the trial advocacy course has been expanded to a full-semester course. That is excellent news.

Once I am done being the bencher, I would like to spend more time up at TRU and maybe, just maybe, the dean and department chair will invite me to teach trial advocacy once again.

  1. Speaking of your time at TRU Law, how has your connection to your alumni network been valuable to you in your career?

I really can’t overstate how important my TRU Law network has been. Yes, of course I get referrals from them, and vice versa. But the friendship and support from my close friends at TRU have been rich and continue to this day. I went through a difficult time in 2019 and 2020 when I went through some personal and professional lows (we talked about the peaks, but there have also been some valleys) and my close friends from TRU Law were as important to me during that time as the friends I’ve known my whole life. I think that is because the bonds that are formed in law school are very strong and there are many social aspects of law school that help form long-lasting relationships.

  1. Is there anything else you want to share with TRU Law alumni?

We are fortunate to be part of an alumni group that is still, in the grand scheme of things, quite small and young. We still have the capacity to make waves in the practice of law and those gains can have positive impacts on TRU Law as well. In the next 10 years, I am sure we will see the first TRU Law alumni appointed to the bench or elected to high public offices. When that happens, not if, it will be incumbent on those alumni to make the pilgrimage back to TRU Law to share their stories.

In the meantime, I encourage all TRU Law alumni to try to make a little space for TRU Law in their calendars for 2024. Whether it is signing up to help judge moots or reaching out to a professor with ideas for a paper or contributions to a course, TRU Law needs us.

And to all the 2014 grads – I hope I see you in May at the 10-year reunion!

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