In 1984, I left my criminal defence practice in Toronto. I wanted to return to the Town of Aurora, where I had lived when I was younger, to start a new practice helping those in the Toronto area who had been injured. Back then, very few lawyers were specializing in personal injury, and I had extensive experience from my articles.
After my first few trials I noticed that insurers were beginning to take me seriously and in settlement negotiations I was obtaining much better results for my clients. As my practice grew, I hired lawyers who shared my philosophy about the importance of going to trial when it is right to do so.
In 1997, I had the privilege of taking to trial a case of a teenager who was paralyzed when the car in which he was a passenger left the road after cresting a hill. Not only were we successful in protecting the young lad’s future, but within 6 months of the trial, the town responsible for the road eliminated the hill, making the road safer for all users. This was the first time that I experienced the broader impact that a favourable outcome at trial can have in protecting the public.
I have since had the pleasure of representing many Ontarians in and out of courtrooms for over 30 years, and occasionally changing the law for the better. I am particularly proud that in response to the trial judgment in Nadine’s case (see “Nadine’s Story”) the Ontario government changed the law by improving its winter road patrolling standards, and that in Jerry’s case (see “Jerry’s Story”) the trial judge accepted our argument that Good Samaritans who care for the seriously injured should also be compensated.
As a senior lawyer, I feel it is my obligation to teach other lawyers what I have learned from my trial experiences. I often speak at conferences put on by organizations such as the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA). I have written many articles and published frequently on topics of trial advocacy and municipal liability. I am a contributing author of the Guide to Personal Injury Practice and Motor Vehicle Cases. I have also chaired and demonstrated at the two OTLA conferences devoted to jury trial advocacy. I am a past board member of OTLA.
I have been privileged to be recognized by my peers as the recipient of several awards. OTLA annually presents the Tim Boland Award for Best Overall Advocate and has awarded me the H. Bruce T. Hillyer Award for outstanding trial advocacy. I was also the 2014 recipient of OTLA’s annual Celebration of the Personal Injury Bar dinner, which honours a plaintiff lawyer and a defence lawyer who are recognized as leaders of the personal injury bar.