Client-focused Edwards cultivates Oakville roots
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
Clients are more than just 'files' to Oakville personal injury lawyer Jill Edwards.
“They can call me any time, and I know their doctors, what’s happening on their case, and where they are in their treatment,” she says. “I know some lawyers have to pull a file to jog their memory, but it’s important to me that I know each and every one of my clients. I do everything on the file, so I know them inside and out.”
Many of the firm’s clients live locally, as does Edwards, having moved to Oakville while still in grade school, departing only temporarily to study for her undergraduate and law degrees. Her long history in the town has also helped her build a reputation among its small legal community.
“We have very good connections with lawyers in the area. They refer a great deal of work to us, not just because we are local, but also because they know we will take care of clients,” she says.
Edwards sees her role as an educative one for clients, many of whom are embarking on their first journey into the legal system.
“I’ll take as much time as necessary to answer their questions and explain the law and the process, so they know what they’re getting into,” she says. “Lawsuits are stressful, and just because you are hurt or were in an accident doesn’t mean you have a solid legal claim, so it’s better to prepare them for what may lie ahead before they get two years in and decide it’s not worth the effort.”
It all comes naturally to Edwards, who trained as a teacher and briefly taught English to students in Japan before heading to law school.
With a background in criminology, she naturally thought she would be a criminal lawyer, however Edwards decided the civil side of the bar was more suited to her skill set and lifestyle. She felt vindicated by the choice while acting for seriously injured accident victims during her time with litigation boutique Lerners LLP.
“The emotional side of that work gripped me, and I wanted to give my absolute all to help these poor people whose lives often would never be the same,” Edwards says. “From then, I was hooked, and I realized that I could make a real difference for people.”
After developing her plaintiffs’ practice in Toronto under personal injury heavyweight John McLeish, she took up an opportunity to return home to Oakville as one of the town’s few plaintiff-focused law firms, MacDonald and Swan, where she relished the extra responsibility of handling her own files.
“I’ve been serving clients here since then, and it has never gotten old,” Edwards says.
After a merger and restructuring at MacDonald and Swan, she and colleague Weston Pollard founded Edwards Pollard LLP, with former mentor Stephen MacDonald serving as counsel to the firm.
“We’re the same people with the same clients and staff, but different walls around us,” Edwards explains.
In addition to motor vehicle accident work, her practice has a distinct disability law flavour, helping clients fight long-term disability denials. That niche has also spurred the firm to develop a separate employment law practice as a natural offshoot resulting from the problems many clients have when they return to work after an injury.
“Many of them are let go at some point,” she says. “We used to refer that kind of work out, but now we’re doing it ourselves because of our close relationship with each client.”