The firm’s stable of young, dynamic personal injury lawyers are making a big, positive impact in the lives of their clients, dispelling misconceptions, and shaping the future of personal injury law
When looking at the talent and accomplishments of the next generation of personal injury lawyers at Oatley Vigmond, one thing is clear – the future is bright for one of Canada’s top ranked personal injury law firms.
Oatley Vigmond has consistently been voted as one of Canada’s Top Personal Injury Law Firms by Canadian Lawyer Magazine since the inception of the award in 2011. The firm’s Partners attribute its top ranking to the talent and hard work of its formidable Associates including Lara Fitzgerald-Husek, Liane Brown, Erin Murray, Karen Vigmond, Ben Irantalab, Jordan Kofman, Harrison Cooper, Charles Jung, Nicholas W. Smith, Merella Botros, and Rayanna Hamadi.
The Associates accredit the firm’s Partners for this accolade thanks to their meaningful mentorships and dedication to their clients. Oatley Vigmond’s Partners include James L. Vigmond, Brian M. Cameron, Robert M. Durante, Troy Lehman, Adam R. Little and Kevin Henderson. Founding Partner, James “Jim” Vigmond, attained the largest spinal injury judgment in Canadian history.
“I’ve learned so much from the Partners as both lawyers and leaders in their profession,” says Charles Jung, an associate with Oatley Vigmond for six years. “I feel fortunate to work with Partners who are not only talented but kind, generous and understanding. They’ve given me so many opportunities to continue to develop as a lawyer and build upon my successes at the firm.”
Associate Lara Fitzgerald-Husek, who has been with the firm for seven years, cites one of Oatley Vigmond’s Partners, Troy Lehman, as the type of lawyer she aspires to be due to the way he treats people. “He’s always fair, honest, and kind, and is an example of how to run a successful legal practice and stay grounded.”
The firm’s newest Associate, Rayanna Hamadi agrees. “The partners truly inspire me, and they take the time to provide meaningful mentorships to young lawyers and students.”
For Karen Vigmond, it’s a bit more personal. Approaching her 10-year-anniversary as an Associate at the firm, she was inspired by her father, and the firm’s Founding Partner, James L. Vigmond. “I was exposed to personal injury law at a young age given my father was in the industry for so long. I saw how much he loved his job; the excitement of litigation and the gratification he got from helping others and being able to make a difference in his client’s lives. I decided to follow in his footsteps, and I’m so glad I did. Turns out, it was a good fit for me too!”
The drive to remain at the top of their profession also comes from their fellow Associates, those working behind the scenes at the firm, Accident Benefits Specialists, and, more importantly, their clients.
Ben Irantalab, an Associate at the firm, says that throughout his seven years at the firm, he is still amazed by the strength of his clients. “Their resiliency and perseverance after going through such a traumatic and life-altering event is truly moving.”
Nicholas W. Smith, an Associate with the firm, agrees, “Many of our clients have been dealt tremendously difficult hands, through no fault of their own, and now struggle with life-changing limitations. But, despite these challenges they continue to push forward and persevere. It’s a remarkable thing to be a part of.”
The resiliency displayed following a life-altering event is what motivates each of the Associates to ensure their clients receive justice and proper compensation to help them rebuild their lives.
For Associate Liane Brown, “never losing sight of why we do what we do for our clients is key. We are incredibly client focused. The day-to-day practice of personal injury law is not easy and can often be time-consuming. But no matter how busy we are, we always make time because we know we’re helping our clients through some of the toughest moments of their lives, and we want them to know we are in their corner.”
Being able to advocate and get justice for their clients during one of the most difficult times of their lives is rewarding to the Associates. And, when justice is attained for their clients, it can be life-affirming in terms of each Associate’s decision to become a personal injury lawyer.
Harrison Cooper, an associate at Oatley Vigmond, recalls his decision to become a personal injury lawyer after his experience in making a positive impact on a victim and her family. As an articling student, Cooper assisted in representing a teenage victim suffering a life-altering brain injury due to the reckless driving of another teenager. The defendant was charged with criminal offences for his dangerous driving. During the criminal trial, Harrison assisted the victim and her family. He provided explanations, comfort, support and served as a media spokesperson. He saw the profound difference he could make in a victim’s life. He adds, “In that moment I knew I wanted to be a personal injury lawyer to give a voice to victims who had been injured as a result of the negligence and wrong-doing of others.”
At Oatley Vigmond, the Associate’s expertise is matched by their empathy for clients. They genuinely care about the individuals and families they represent and are able to use that to obtain excellent and just results for them.
According to Associate Jordan Kofman, the staff who work behind the scenes at the firm also make a huge difference. They too have a “client-focused mind-set and are committed to achieving the best results for each client.”
The Future of Personal Injury Law
When looking towards the future of personal injury law, Oatley Vigmond’s award-winning Associates all agree they would like to see major changes in the legislation to allow trials to be conducted more efficiently in terms of time and money spent.
Jung highlights this would help to alleviate the increasing backlog in personal injury cases. A backlog that has only worsened over the last few years due to the COVID pandemic.
Merella Botros, an Associate at the firm concurs the pandemic has directly resulted in further backlogs in the judicial system. “This backlog can be stressful both emotionally and financially for clients.” It has also forced the legal profession to reexamine how they do things and look at ways to be more efficient moving forward.”
Fitzgerald-Husek cites adopting new technologies as key to keeping cases moving forward throughout the pandemic and in the future. She states, “Virtual discoveries were very uncommon before the pandemic, but they now make the discovery process much more efficient and easier for our clients. No more last-minute cancellations due to weather or traffic delays. Clients can now attend discoveries from the comfort and familiarity of their homes, which helps to make a stressful day less difficult for them.”
Fellow Associate, Erin Murray, would also like the legislature to bring back the two-million dollar Catastrophic Medical and Rehabilitation / Attendant Care Limits in the no-fault system to help clients in need. She states “If you have lost a limb or sustained permanent brain damage, a one-million-dollar settlement is completely inadequate in this circumstance and will be gone within a few years. Until there’s a change, everyone who can afford to, should buy the optional two million in insurance coverage.”
Removing the Stigma Behind Personal Injury Law
Along with seeking positive changes to improve the future of personal injury law and alleviate the current backlog, these Associates would also like to remove the stigma behind their profession. The Hollywoodism of personal injury lawyers, along with misleading advertising has caused a misconception among the public that those in this profession are all ‘ambulance chasers’ or solely in it for financial gain. And, that clients are feigning the severity of their injuries.
“Most Canadians attribute whiplash and insurance fraud when they think about personal injury law. They don’t think about catastrophic brain damage or being permanently disabled. Most people are surprised when I explain the severity of the types of injuries I encounter as a personal injury lawyer,” says Murray.
Accident victims can also be viewed harshly during personal injury law cases and positioned as only interested in a financial gain. But Irantalab adds, “While personal injury litigation is about financial compensation for the harm inflicted on our clients, accident victims are more interested in achieving justice. Every accident victim I’ve met would rather turn back the clock to before their accident versus receiving a financial settlement because their lives have been completely changed.” But sadly, these accident victims cannot turn back the clocks and must seek compensation to help rebuild their lives. Lives that may no longer enable them to work due to their injuries but must still provide for themselves and their families.
Some people even believe personal injury lawyers are happy when their clients suffer injuries as it keeps them employed. But nothing could be further from the truth, confirms Kofman. “As a firm, we actively contribute to various community safety organizations and author articles promoting safe behaviour as prevention educational resources. Despite these efforts, people continue being injured and still require the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer to seek compensation when unfortunate circumstances materialize.”
Socially Conscious & Community-Minded
From start to finish, Oatley Vigmond is committed to improving the quality of its client’s life even after a case concludes. The firm fosters a community-centric, ‘give-back’ culture. It lends its time, expertise and financial support to a number of hospitals, who serve those seriously injured by trauma, as well as to hospitals devoted to rehabilitation of the seriously impaired. The firm also supports the health care providers who work in such hospitals and in the rehabilitation community. Along with providing the best possible legal representation, the firm also ensures its communities are set-up for long-term success.
In addition to the support Oatley Vigmond provides to hospitals and the rehabilitation community, it also supports a number of community associations and organizations through monetary donations, time, and by lending its expertise.
For each of the Associates, giving back to the communities they work and live in is important. They also recognize that a number of the organizations and associations they support also help to provide valuable resources and support services to their clients and their families as they rebuild their lives.
“Growing up in Egypt I saw community in action daily. I was part of that community that always found people around them to help and support. When I moved to Canada and started practicing here, I wanted to continue to give back in whatever capacity I could. This is what it means to be part of a community, to give back without expectation in order to grow the community you live in,” says Merella Botros, one of the firm’s Associates.
Karen Vigmond agrees, “In addition to helping with a worthy cause, community involvement also provides you with a different perspective and higher level of understanding and empathy for those around us. It creates connections and helps you to grow professionally and personally.”
Raising the Bar on Personal Injury Law
Oatley Vigmond continues to set the standard for personal injury law firms in Canada. The firm accomplishes that goal by fearlessly advocating on behalf of its injured clients and attracting and nurturing the next generation of personal injury lawyers and associated professionals. Oatley Vigmond refers its clients to only the best and most reputable medical/legal experts and rehabilitation professionals while maintaining its role as leaders in the continuing legal education of personal injury law.