I was called to the bar in 1974 and am a partner at Torkin Manes LLP.
I articled and in the first seven years of my legal career worked at the law firm of Strauss and Strauss. I was the 5th of five lawyers in what was an established general law practice. I had great mentors and role models, who had respect for the law and respect for our profession. In those days, young lawyers did everything—real estate, incorporations, leases, commercial litigation, mortgage litigation, motor vehicle claims, family law and even criminal law. I did it all. As a partner in that firm, I learned the pressure and economics of the small law firm.
In 1981, I joined the fledgling Torkin Manes, mostly because I played tennis weekly with a number of the partners and they said, "come join us, we are having fun building a law firm." (They told me that they weren’t making much money but they were having fun trying.) I thought it was an opportunity and if I was not going to take a chance then, I would never do it.
We were eight lawyers and upstarts, never knowing where the next client or file was coming from. From new kids on the block, we have been fortunate to grow into a solid and successful mid-sized law firm. But we knew the tough days, three recessions, entrepreneurial clients, demanding banks as our lenders, and sometimes fickle clients. As a result, I understand the pressures of small firm practice, the insecurities, the demands and the neuroses of running your own practice.
With greater support in the firm for some of the things I did not like to do, I gravitated to commercial law and real estate—solicitor’s work. For me, gratification came in completing projects within a reasonable time frame without much gamesmanship. While I enjoyed the academic and strategic side of litigation, the process was not for me. I would like to think that getting the job done in a reasonable time frame might be an asset as a bencher.
Early on, I got involved in legal education, at a time when it was an honour to be an instructor in bar admission. Over the years, I was promoted to assistant head of real estate and then from 1990 to 2000 was the co-head of the section.
I have a long record of lecturing and teaching in Bar Association and Law Society continuing education. It is important to me to lead by example and to ensure that our lawyers are well trained, competent and current.
In 2002, Paul Perell and I co-chaired the Law Society’s Special Lectures on real estate, the first time in 30 years that the Special Lectures were devoted to real estate law. It was a huge honour even to be asked. By Special Lectures’ standards, the 400 attendees made it a huge success. That programme was the catalyst for the creation of the annual Law Society Real Estate Law Summit, which I founded and continue to chair and which in 2018, its 15th year, was attended by over 1400 lawyers across the province. Its focus is on the practical and its audience tends to be lawyers in solo or small firms. Clearly, the careful selection of speakers and topics and the style of presentations that I encourage resonate with many general practice and real estate lawyers across the province. I like to think that I understand their day-to-day concerns of practice.
In 1988, I wrote “The Law of Subdivision Control in Ontario,” the only text on section 50 of the Planning Act. Section 50 of the Planning Act is a basis for lots of errors made by lawyers, the result of which make transactions invalid. It is hardly a nail biter of a book but it has become an essential resource for real estate lawyers in Ontario. Some call it the Planning Act "bible". Our courts and real estate lawyers across the province rely on it. Its third edition was published in 2011.
In 2000, real estate and mortgage fraud became front page news. For LawPRO, I wrote the definitive article on how lawyers can be fooled by fraudsters and for several years later, I lectured widely on real estate and mortgage fraud and the standard of practice for real estate lawyers. I sat on the Ministry’s task force on real estate fraud and was counsel to the Law Society on changes to the rules of professional conduct as they relate to real estate fraud.
These days, in addition to mediating and arbitrating real estate disputes and troubleshooting and advising in connection with mistakes some lawyers have made on real estate transactions, I devote considerable time to the job of being a bencher, a job I take seriously and with commitment.
I take great pride in being a lawyer, doing a good job, being respected, being appreciated and being a professional. Reputation in our business is key. Some say our reputation is really all we have. We all have a hand in delivering professional and competent service to our clients and as a bencher, I strive to lead by example in promoting those values.
Areas of Current Practice
Awarded the Law Society Medal, June 2008
Recipient of the Award for Excellence in Real Estate in 2000 presented by the Ontario Bar Association
Certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Real Estate Law 2004
Recognized in Lexpert/American Lawyer Media Guide to The Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada
Recognized in Best Lawyers in Canada
Named 2015 Toronto Lawyer of the Year for Real Estate by Best Lawyers in Canada
Martindale-Hubbell: AV Pre-eminent Peer Review Rated
Chartered Arbitrator, ADR Institute Ontario
The Prize in Income Tax 1972, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University
York University Entrance Scholarship 1966
2010 - present
2010 - present
Purchase, sale, financing and syndication transactions involving real property
Real property dispute arbitration and mediation
Mortgage enforcement and realization on other security
Counsel to the Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company and title insurers regarding solicitors' negligence claims and title and other errors including opinions on liability and damages, repairs and advising on strategies
Corporate and commercial transactions involving real property
Planning and Subdivision Control Law
Real Estate Trouble Shooting and Consulting
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
Osgoode Hall Law School of York University
Bachelor of Laws (with Honours)
Law Society of Upper Canada Teaching Portion (1973-1974)
Called to the Bar of Ontario with Honours
Arbitration and Mediation Institute of Ontario Inc
Arbitration Course Part 2
The Advocates’ Society
The Law of Subdivision Control In Ontario: A Practical Guide, Third Edition (Canada Law Book, 2010)
The Law of Subdivision Control In Ontario: A Practical Guide, Second Edition (Carswell, 1994)
The Law of Subdivision Control In Ontario: A Practical Guide, (Carswell, 1988)
Agreements of Purchase and Sale, Contributing Author (Butterworths, 1996)
Falconbridge on Mortgages-Fifth Edition, Contributing Author (Canada Law Book, 2003)
Major Papers, Articles and Annotations
Title Searching Under the Ontario Registry Act after Fire v. Longtin, A Consensus Position: Co-authored article; (1996) 1 R.P.R. (3d) 173
Real Estate Conveyancing in Ontario: A Nineties Perspective, prepared for the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company, September 1996
1390957 Ontario Ltd v. Acchione Annotation; (2001) 38 R.P.R.(3d) 176
Special Report on Fraud, Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company, Summer, 2001; Contributing Writer.
Fraud in Real Estate Transactions; The Effects and the Remedies, The Law Society of Upper Canada Special Lectures April 2002
The Many Faces of Fraud-A Special Report, Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company, June 2004; Featured Writer.
CIBC Mortgages Inc. v. Chan Annotation; (2004) 20 R.P.R. (4th) 151