Civil Litigation, Insurance, Personal Injury

Trial-ready Cormier tells it like it is to clients

By Staff

Toronto trial and appellate lawyer Joel Cormier has no interest in telling his clients what they want to hear.

Cormier, associate with Will Davidson LLP, tells that he takes a long-term approach to his relationships with the individuals and businesses who hire him to advance or defend claims in court.

“I’m patient and understanding with them, but I’m not going to oversell them if they come in with a case that is not likely to succeed in litigation,” he says. “The only consequence of that would be that they rack up legal fees.

“I like to be candid with clients, get them comfortable with the process, and then make myself available to them in any way I can to put them at ease,” Cormier adds.

Needs vary according to the retainer, and with a practice covering construction and commercial litigation, insurance defence and personal injury matters, Cormier’s client base certainly runs the gamut.

“Whether it’s a sophisticated party who is in court frequently or an accident victim experiencing it for the first time, I need to understand their ultimate goals, and formulate a litigation strategy accordingly,” he says. “If someone is seeking a settlement and is disinclined to take big risks, I need to consider that, just as I do when it’s someone who’s willing to raise the stakes of litigation somewhat by taking a principled position.”

But Cormier is not one to shy away from the courtroom.

“I treat every case as if it’s going to trial. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to settle it, but I’ll be ready for any eventuality,” he says.

As a result, he is much older than his years in terms of courtroom experience, building a body of trial and summary judgment work beyond what would be expected from a person called to the bar in 2006.

“There are certainly older guys out there with more experience, but I know many colleagues from my generation who have never taken a case to verdict,” Cormier says.

Cormier is living the dream of his teenaged self, having set his sights on a career in the law while still at high school after reading The Case for the Defence, by legendary criminal lawyer and fellow Niagara native Eddie Greenspan.

“It sounded like a great job,” he says.

After graduating from Queen’s University law school in 2005, he joined a Toronto insurance defence boutique, and then moved to Will Davidson, where he developed a niche in construction litigation, representing developers, builders, construction managers and trades in both contract disputes and tort claims.

“It grew naturally out of the insurance defence work because insurers are usually involved in each of the various trades,” explains Cormier, who also carries a significant defence practice acting for insurers in property damage litigation, subrogation matters, and product liability claims.

However, he says the clients in his growing plaintiff-side personal injury are among the biggest beneficiaries of his other experience.

“Having worked for insurers and taken cases to trial, I know exactly what the other side is thinking,” Cormier says. “It’s a bit like playing poker but being able to see the other person’s cards because you can put yourself in their shoes so easily.

“I like doing both sides because it provides the balance I need to be a better advocate. It’s an enormous advantage,” he adds.

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