Substance over style: Golden not your typical litigator

By Staff

Toronto health lawyer David Golden is the antithesis of a stereotypical litigator — more like a surgeon, cutting quickly and precisely to the heart of the matter than the flamboyant portrayal seen on legal TV shows.

Golden, partner with Torkin Manes LLP, bristles at the dramatization of lawyers as overblown, verbose characters who steal the scenes in courtroom dramas on television.

“If you can’t explain the essence of your argument in a few minutes, then you’ve failed as an advocate,” he says.

“My style is to strip away any excess showmanship, and connect early with judges," Golden tells

Exaggeration is strictly off the table, Golden adds.

“Sadly in our profession, there’s a lot of exaggeration, and it doesn’t take too long for judges to realize whose submissions they have to take with a grain of salt,” he explains. “When I say something in court, I want the judge to take it as gospel, and I’m completely prepared to back it up.

“Over time, that credibility builds up, but you always have to keep an eye on it, because our reputation is one of the few things we have control over in this business,” Golden adds.

Coming from a family without a legal background, Golden took some time to find his feet in the area.

“I was drawn to the use of logic and argument, but I found law school very theoretical,” he says. “It wasn’t until I started articling, and got to see what practising law was all about, that it all became more clear to me.”

During more than three decades with Torkin Manes, Golden has built a broad litigation practice, encompassing matters in the areas of real estate, commercial litigation and professional liability.

However, a significant portion of his work involves acting for private sector health-care organizations, including long-term care and retirement homes, assisting them with their litigation needs, as well as navigating compliance and licensing in a highly regulated field. In addition to chairing the firm’s Health Care Institutions Group, Golden also co-chairs his firm’s professional development committee.

Beyond the firm, his extensive experience in the area has seen Golden appointed chairs of both the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations’ health law sections, and he has also acted as counsel to the Ontario Long Term Care Association and the Ontario Retirement Communities Association.

But Golden says his proficiency in the health-care sector culminated last year when he acted for a retirement home during Ontario's Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry — better known as the Gillese Inquiry — which was investigating the circumstances surrounding a notorious nurse’s murder of at least eight long-term care residents over several years.

“It was an absolutely fascinating experience,” he says.

Golden takes a results-oriented approach to matters, using initial meetings to get a handle on clients’ goals and educate them about their options.

“We can have a discussion about how we can use the process to their advantage, but they have to be aware of what I can and cannot do for them so that I can be part of the bigger strategy,” he says.

Although the sporadic and unpredictable nature of litigation does not always lend itself to a great deal of repeat business, Golden takes pride in developing long-term relationships with his clients.

“They’re not just files to me,” he says. “When you serve a stable of clients over a period of years, much deeper relationships develop, and you become the go-to person for many issues.

“When you build a personal relationship as well as a business one, it makes the practice that much richer,” Golden adds.

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