Sean May graduated from the University of Ottawa law school in 1989. He is from Ottawa and growing up in the city gives him knowledge and experience he is able to use in his trial work. On March 30, 1989, the day after being called to the bar, Sean May opened his law practice working exclusively in the area of criminal law. Starting with just a few clients, he quickly earned a reputation for hard work, attention to detail, and devotion to providing his clients with a first rate defence. As his practice grew he soon became one of the busiest criminal lawyers in the province, defending people charged in every kind of case and achieving great success for his clients.
Sean May is Certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Criminal Law. This specialist designation is awarded by the Law Society to criminal defence counsel who have distinguished themselves in practice based upon experience, reputation in the Court system, and dedication to the practice of Criminal Law. Sean May has practiced Criminal Law exclusively since 1989. In over 30 years as a lawyer he has successfully represented his clients by diligence, determined hard work, meticulous preparation and attention to detail. He has represented clients in every level of Court, conducted many Jury trials and often represented people in extremely serious cases. Sean May was part of the legal team for Military Member, Kyle Brown, who was charged with murder in Somalia – a case which led to the Somalia Inquiry. Most recently he successfully worked to achieve the withdrawal of all criminal charges against former Canadian Senator, Mac Harb.
Since 2015, Sean May is proud to have been joined in practice by firm partner Kate Irwin, an exceptional lawyer in her own right.
Why did you become a lawyer?
Parents often play an influential role in shaping their children’s life decisions. I gravitated to law influenced in large part by my father’s life story as a politician, journalist and contrarian.
In the late 70s, my father was the Press Secretary to the President of Ghana. On December 31, 1981, the army staged a coup and seized control of the nation and banished the rule of law. The military government became oppressive, and concerned about his safety, my father fled the country accompanied by my mother. They settled in London, England, where I was born. This was a trying time for my family and the experience inspired countless debates on personal freedom, the dangers of excessive government power, and the importance of the rule of law in society. Over time, these debates came to define my life. I learned the importance of standing up for personal freedom and security. I understood how government power can be abused and why individual rights such as the right to not be arbitrarily arrested has to be defended and preserved. I learned that government power is not always used for the greater good and someone has to stand up for those at the receiving end. I have never forgotten those lessons. They inspired me to go to law school. But let’s be clear – long before law school, my skills of critical thinking, empathy and ability to stand up to for what’s right, had been honed in relentless debates in the family living room. The Law Society of Upper Canada may have sanctioned my credentials as lawyer in 2009 but I’ve playing the devil’s advocate most all my life. Becoming a defence attorney was always meant to be.
How do you represent criminals?
Part of Mr. May’s ethic is that there are no small matters when someone is charged with a criminal offence. He brings the same level of care, determination and focus to every case. He believes in his clients, he backs them up and most of all, he fights for them.
What motivates you to fight hard in each and every case?
I have an awesome responsibility as a defence attorney and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I have clients who look to me to defend them against unfounded allegations that can have irreparable damage to them and their loved ones. I have clients who are facing long jail sentences and are looking for a chance to get their lives back. I have clients who have been let down by the criminal justice system and need someone to champion their cause. These clients are putting their lives in my hands because they trust that I will do right by them. It is that trust that motivates me to leave no stone unturned in the defence of my clients.