Despite tax law’s reputation as one of the most challenging practice areas, it was one David Ward embraced.
Ward, a founding partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, quickly made a name for himself in an area that, up until the 1960s, was largely the domain of accountants, says firm partner David Smith. But after starting two-person law firm McDonald & Ward in 1961, Ward got a big boost when he later began doing work for Canada’s storied Reichmann family. He went on to become a leader in tax law, especially after he started writing books on the subject, says Smith.
Ward, who died earlier this month at 78, disliked “sloppy thinking,” a characteristic that could sometimes intimidate young practitioners. “When you were young, it was kind of ‘the David Ward,’” says Smith. “You were a little nervous when you went into his office when you were a budding associate. But he was always fair.”
Smith notes, however, that Ward applied those high expectations for himself as well. He was particularly good at research. Once, for example, a matter had him scouring the shelves of the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library for old League of Nations committee reports dealing with international tax treaties. “That was the kind of guy he was,” says Smith. “He really dug deep into things.”
But besides his passion for the job and his eagerness to get under the skin of Revenue Canada and Justice Department opponents during litigation on behalf of his business clients, Ward enjoyed the lighter side of life as well. He regularly went skiing - even up until recently - and enjoyed sailing. He also had a deep interest in art, Smith says.
Ward died on Jan. 13 after suffering complications from a fall, according to Smith. He had remained active in the firm, which became Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg through a merger with Davies Ward & Beck in 2001. He would still come in at 8 a.m. and work a full day, Smith says, noting Ward had cut back slightly on his long hours in recent years. “He was well liked and well respected around the firm and in the tax community.”