Jordana Goldlist

Jordana Goldlist

Finding success against all odds

This profile was written by Colleen Latus, a law student at Bond University.

Running a fully functioning criminal defence boutique law firm in downtown Toronto, Jordana works eighty to one hundred hours per week and wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because she loves what she does. 

Jordana’s life has changed a lot since her youth. She spent time in a group home and in a correctional facility and experienced homelessness. Throughout the hard times, Jordana dreamt of becoming a lawyer but worried she would be disadvantaged by her background. In reality, her background sets her apart as a criminal defence lawyer. Jordana recognizes, from personal experience, that people are more than their personal circumstances and wants to be known as the lawyer who fought for her clients as though she was in their shoes.                                    

I can’t fix someone’s problem if I don’t have some sort of connection, understanding, empathy or sympathy towards the client... at the end of the day, law is about people. 

Having received scholarships and bursaries throughout her own academic career, Jordana founded the “Vs. All Odds” bursary at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2019 and the Lincoln Alexander School of Law in 2020. The bursaries provide financial support to students who have been accepted into law school despite having experienced extreme personal adversity in life; such as homelessness, the foster care system, group homes, addiction, street life, sex trafficking, or involvement in the criminal justice system, either personally or in their immediate family. Jordana knows personal circumstances can affect one’s ability to focus and study. She finds it unjust to rank students without considering the situation they are in and how that impacts their ability to get the highest grades, the best volunteer experiences, and the most impressive references. Jordana hopes her bursaries will encourage open discussions in relation to how we, as individuals, place judgement on others in society. 

Not only does Jordana enjoy the people aspect of lawyering, but she also equally enjoys the business side.  With an Instagram following of 42.3 thousand and a TEDx Talk with over 300,000 views, Jordana’s passion for law has extended into her online presence. Initially, Jordana spent most of her social media energy on Twitter, where she would share her critiques and commentary about the criminal justice system. She then moved onto Instagram, where she connected with clients. Jordana used her Instagram profile to promote her TEDx Talk ‘Who Judges the Judge?– highlighting that labels such as “judge” and “criminal” do not define one’s character, yet, continue to be the basis upon which society perceives and accordingly treats those individuals. Instagram became a business tool to promote her practice and share her wins, as well as a way to express her frustrations. Now, Instagram is the only way she advertises her services and success.  

You need to find your own passion. I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘oh God I have to work again’... Everyone needs to find what they enjoy doing and do it, no matter what the industry is. 

Jordana first began her legal career in civil litigation but found it was not for her. She acknowledges individuals may be lured away from criminal defence because it tends to be less lucrative than working as a corporate lawyer on Bay Street. But, if criminal law is where your passion is, that’s what you should do.

Not Your Average Support – Any Amount