Marie Henein has faced much scrutiny as one of the country’s highest profile criminal defence lawyers.

She kept Ontario’s former attorney general Michael Bryant out of jail and defended former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi from sexual assault charges.

In a candid sit-down interview with CTV’s Your Morning, Henein reflected on her reputation as a hero or a villain, her much talked about style, and the star she wishes she’d defended. 

On being a ‘shark’

Her clients have described her as a “shark” in the courtroom. Former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant said she “seemed to channel Hannibal Lecter.” She contests that image, chalking up some of that reputation to double standards.

“As a woman there’s only one dimension to you. You’re either a tough b**** or you’re not,” she told CTV’s Your Morning host Anne-Marie Mediwake.

“This Hannibal Lecter shark is not what I do. It’s much more thoughtful and controlled and deliberate within the parameters of our system. It’s not like TV. That is a significant thing that people get wrong. It’s very caricature-y.”

On her style

Henein has received much attention for her appearance over the years, which was at one time less magazine-ready than it is today. What does she credit for the change in image? Straightening irons. “That was a big deal for me because I couldn’t manage curly hair,” she said. 

But while her style is often considered eccentric, she considers it quite “restrained” because of her profession. 

“You can’t come in with piercings and tattoos all over the place. If I had my druthers, I’d be as punky as you could come,” she said. “I was an absolute goth in high school. I love that. That’s where I skew. It’s not an image makeover. It’s a lot of restraint on my part.”

On losing

She’s had some high-profile victories in the courtroom, but it’s the losses that stick with her, she said.

“I just never let it go. The wins are easy, they come and they’re done. But the losses for me are very difficult. It’s because I constantly reassess whether I should have done something different,” she said. “I find that very hard to let go of.”

On the case she wishes she got her hands on

“I would have liked to have defended Martha Stewart,” she said. “That would have been fun.”