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About Me

I was called to the bar in 1989, and I’m a partner at Gowling WLG’s Toronto office. I practice commercial, civil and administrative litigation.

My experience with the Law Society of Ontario

I was elected by the legal profession in Ontario as a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2011, and to a second term in 2015.

During this time, I had the privilege to serve as -Chair, Government Relations and, for a time,  as the Vice-Chair of Audit and Finance. I also served on most othe committees and as a discipline panel member.

I am proud of our accomplishments during my time on the  Government Relations Committee. We worked closely with government and other stakeholders for the benefit of the profession and the public. The outcome of this work included working with the provincial government to extend eligibility for legal aid, expanding Unified Family Court and ensuring contingency agreements were not undermined by the insurance industry.

While Vice-Chair of Audit and Finance, I pushed for a review of the operations of the society to ensure that lawyers licensing fees were responsibly spent. The result was a rationalization of some society operations, which helped keep society fees affordable.

My professional experience and activities

I  served on the Ontario Civil Rules Committee for 25 years, having been appointed by successive Chief Justices of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The Rules Committee is responsible for drafting and revising the Rules of Civil Procedure for the Province of Ontario. In this capacity I conducted numerous reviews regarding the civil justice system and was involved in most of the major procedural reforms in Ontario over the last two decades, including chairing the Simplified Rules Review Committee, chairing the Appellate Delay Committee, implementing the Osborne Report’s civil justice reform.

In my practice, I have acted on an array of different matters for corporations, financial institutions and governments, and have appeared both the trial and appellate level. I have reported cases in such areas as contract, environmental law, elections law, corporate, competition, constitutional, statutory interpretation, administrative actions, and class actions.

I have acted on several public inquires, including the Walkerton Inquiry and the Cornwall Inquiry. I recently served as Counsel to Ontario’s  Long Term Care Covid-19 Commission which examined the impact of Covid on our most vulnerable populations.

I am the co-author of Class Actions: Law and Practice (Lexis/Nexis). The text is the leading authority on the subject of class actions in Canada and has been frequently cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Canada and other appellate and trial courts across Canada.

I have also been a lecturer on issues of procedure and trial advocacy. I also spent a number of years as an instructor of trial advocacy with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.

Summary of professional activities

  • Chair, Law Society of Upper Canada, Government and Public Affairs
  • Vice Chair, Law Society of Upper Canada, Audit and Finance
  • Director. Legal Aid Ontario (2020-2023)
  • Member, Alliance For Sustainable Legal Aid (2013-2019)
  • Chair, Legal Aid Working Group (An Abiding Interest, 2018)
  • Advocates Society, Director (2007-2009)
  • Chair, Advocates Society – International Conferences to The Hague (2004) and Ireland (2006)
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Trial Advocacy (1996-2000)
  • Member, Rules Committee (1995-2022)
  • Chair, Simplified Rules Review Committee (1995-1998)
  • Chair, Cost Review Committee (2002-2004)
  • Chair, Appellate Delay Committee (1996)
  • Member, Civil Procedure Reform Implementation Committee (2010)
  • Co-author, Class Action, Law and Practice
  • Member, Toronto Lawyers Association, Ontario Bar Association and Advocates Society
  • Director, Institute of Clinical and Evaluative Studies (2007-2013)
  • Founding Director, Institute for Civility and Professionalism
  • Fellow of American Bar Association
  • Fox Scholar (1989-90)
  • Gowlings’ Past National Commercial Litigation Practice Group Leader

Recognition, publications, and teaching

I have been recognized by several publications as a leading commercial counsel in Canada:

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys
  • Chambers Global
  • Canadian Legal Lexpert/American Lawyer (various directories)
  • The Best Lawyers in Canada
  • Financier Worldwide Litigation
  • Adjudicator Resolution Handbook

Personal life

I am married to Seanna Callaghan who is also a member of The Law Society of Upper Canada. We have three children, Molly, Charlie and Harry. Like most parents, over the years, I have spent a great deal of leisure time immersed in our children’s activities. I’ve enjoyed coaching hockey for my son’s teams, although the results of my coaching may have been tepid and, as a result, my children forced me into retirement (even though they still play!).