Managing partner wants to establish firm as tops in birth trauma litigation
To cap off a year of expansion, Gluckstein Lawyers has announced a partnership with Steve Rastin, a civil litigation specialist with a practice focused on personal injury, employment law and class actions.
The union establishes Rastin Gluckstein, which will serve central Ontario with offices in Barrie, Midland, Collingwood and Orillia. The firm aims to increase its presence in Simcoe-Muskoka, as well as north into Sudbury and North Bay.
Rastin is the third strategic partnership Gluckstein Lawyers has undertaken over the last year. Ottawa civil trial lawyer Derek Nicholson and Richard Halpern, who acts for injured people in medical negligence cases with a focus on infants injured around the time of birth, have also joined the firm.
Managing partner Charles Gluckstein wants to establish Gluckstein Lawyers as a top birth trauma litigation firm. With only around a dozen lawyers in Canada capable of running a birth injury trial at the top level, says Gluckstein, there was “no one better than Richard Halpern to pursue.”
“And that really put us in a strong position, nationally, to advocate for birth injury cases and represent our clients,” he says.
Halpern joined the firm as a senior lawyer in May. He writes frequently on medical malpractice legal and trial strategies, causes of injury for newborns and obstetrics – the study of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
Then in July, Gluckstein partnered with Nicholson, forming Nicholson Gluckstein and allowing the firm to serve clients in the Ottawa region.
The additions put three past presidents of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association – Gluckstein, Rastin and Halpern – under the Gluckstein banner.
“Steve and I have known each other for more than 10 years for our work at OTLA,” says Gluckstein. “Both Steve and I view the industry as changing and have discussed working together in the field of class actions and mass torts with Derek Nicholson… We look forward to handling complex litigation across the country going forward.”
The firm grew from 30 to 40 people in 2020. And while they have no immediate plans for further acquisitions, Gluckstein says the firm is eyeing other opportunities. They often act as trial counsel for law firms with medical malpractice, motor-vehicle, long-term disability and the other areas in which the firm has wide-ranging experience.
Diversification is part of how Gluckstein Lawyers has weathered the COVID storm. For example, for those with practices sharply focused on motor vehicle injuries, it has been a tough year because COVID has led to fewer car accidents. And while Gluckstein credits the court system with innovating to facilitate virtual hearings, motor vehicle matters must be done by jury and jury trials are not occurring during the pandemic.
“If there weren't motor vehicle crashes – which is probably a good thing for society, especially for the healthcare industry, given they were so overwhelmed – with COVID, there's a lot of employment issues that need to be looked at. There's long term disability. There's medical malpractice that is out there,” says Gluckstein.
“There's lots of other focus areas that deal with personal injury. And that's where we have paid attention and made sure that we're still relevant in the personal injury field.”
More generally in the personal injury practice, law firms may experience a delayed financial fallout from a messy 2020, says Gluckstain. His firm’s files typically work on a three-year cycle, he says. So while firms may not be struggling today, the inability to bring in as many clients as usual in 2020, may be felt down the road.
“A lawyer that just primarily focuses in one area is very vulnerable to what can happen in the marketplace, or what can happen with regulations,” says Gluckstein. “That's why we, in the last 10 years, really adjusted the firm so that we can handle more complex personal injury matters.”
“In the consumer facing world, we have to innovate in order to stay relevant.”