Personal Injury

Hoffman launches practice with a personal touch

By Paul Russell, Contributor

Toronto personal injury lawyer Jennifer Hoffman tells that the connection she has with each of her clients sets her firm apart.

“We have a very distinct business model,” says Hoffman, principal of Hoffman Law P.C. “We run a very small practice, which allows me to devote a great deal of time and resources to every single file. That creates a much closer relationship with clients as they all have my cellphone number and know they can always get in touch with me.”

Hoffman was called to the bar in 2010 and began her career working for Jack Fireman, a Toronto personal injury litigator who has since retired.

“I was lucky to be trained by one of the pre-eminent trial lawyers of our time,” she says. “I modelled my practice around what he did — he knew his files inside and out, and so do I.”

Hoffman says Fireman taught her that while the majority of civil claims do not go to trial, she should always build files with a view to litigation.

“I don’t shy away from investing resources into each of my files,” she says. “Clients often say our client/lawyer relationship feels different,” she says. “I work very hard to foster that sense of comfort.”

Hoffman’s practice primarily focuses on personal injury, including catastrophic impairment from spinal cord and brain injuries. She also handles cases involving chronic pain, long-term disability, medical malpractice, slip and falls, and ATV, boating and snowmobile accidents.

She often receives referrals from other lawyers for complex files, including challenging motor vehicle cases and slip and falls on city property.

“I’ve carved out a bit of a niche when it comes to slip and falls that occur on municipal properties,” Hoffman says, explaining that establishing liability in these cases is much more complicated than if they occur on private property.

She also says it’s important for people who have suffered an injury to feel they’re not just getting legal representation, but that they have a true ally and advocate.

“They need someone to help them navigate the legal system, but they also need a sounding board for some of the personal challenges,” she says. “When you run a personal injury practice, you have to be both. It’s a very intimate client relationship I have.”

After working for other firms for a decade, Hoffman decided it was “time to put my name on the door,” launching Hoffman Law P.C. in January 2019.

“It’s very exciting,” she says, describing the challenges she encounters daily. “There are a million different things that go into running a law firm that you never think about when you are part of a bigger firm. It’s a constant learning experience, and new things come up every day.”

Along with running the business and managing the practice, Hoffman does business development and mentoring, and is looking to take on an articling student.

“We’re growing, and we will be hiring another lawyer and clerk soon, which is great,” she says. “The first few months have been a real learning curve."

Hoffman’s office is steps from the Sheppard West subway station and minutes from Highway 401. More importantly, she says, is the free parking behind the building.

“A little thing like free parking is actually a valuable asset,” Hoffman says, noting that many of her clients have mobility problems, and others are under severe financial constraints.

“Even $5 for parking would be an obstacle for them, never mind the $25 fee they would pay downtown,” she says. “All those things were taken into consideration when picking this location.”

Hoffman says that her firm focuses on “quality instead of quantity. Even if I wanted to be a volume-based practice, I wouldn’t be able to do that, as that is not the way my brain has been trained.”

Her client base extends well beyond the GTA.

“I am based out of Toronto but practise all across Ontario,” Hoffman says. “When you are a personal injury lawyer, you are dealing with people who are suffering. They don’t know the law or have the resources to go up against a big insurance company by themselves. My firm can give them the assistance they need.”

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