Personal Injury

Warfe finds difficult PI cases to be the most gratifying

By Kirsten McMahon, Managing Editor

While it can be challenging helping people and families who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries, Ontario personal injury lawyer Michael Warfe says it makes him work harder to be an effective advocate.

“The critical injury and wrongful death cases, with significant or traumatic injuries — those are sometimes the most difficult files to work on,” says Warfe, an associate with McLeish Orlando LLP. “But I also think those matters are the most gratifying, and they bring out the best in me.”

He tells that a background in health sciences eventually led him to personal injury law.

“A career in law was never something I really thought about until later in life,” says Warfe, who has experience handling complicated wrongful death, medical malpractice, and recreational and sports-related cases. “I excelled in my science courses, and I think my parents were keen on having a doctor in the family — but I learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me.”

After completing his bachelor of science at Queen’s University, he pursued a master’s degree in neuroscience.

“I thought it was an interesting and challenging area of study and envisioned a career in neuroscience or research. Along the way, I recognized that I wanted to do something more practical, something that would help people. While in graduate school, my interest in the law really started to develop.”

Warfe attended the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 2013.

He says while at law school, “I kind of fell out of love with research” and took a shine to his advocacy courses. After meeting several personal injury lawyers, Warfe was inspired to follow that path.

“It’s an area of the profession where you can really help people, be on your feet in court, and use the skills you developed in law school in a meaningful way,” he says.

Warfe articled with a prominent insurance defence firm in Toronto working the other side of personal injury files.

“When one of the partners at the firm left to open a plaintiff-side firm, I went with him. And I didn’t really look back after that,” he says.

Since his call to the bar in 2014, Warfe has appeared as counsel before every level of court in Ontario, as well as at the Supreme Court of Canada.

“What I don’t mention in my bio is that when I was at the Supreme Court, I stood up, and my pants ripped open at the seat,” he jokes.

Warfe joined McLeish Orlando in 2017 and was initially attracted to the firm’s size and reputation for doing excellent trial work.

“The firm’s values are in line with my own — there’s a focus on helping people and giving back to the community,” says Warfe, who handles a wide variety of personal injury cases, including cases involving significant brain and spinal cord trauma as well as serious orthopedic injuries.

Warfe says he has a soft spot for challenging and difficult cases, although he recognizes they’re not always the best from a business standpoint.

“Sometimes, I like to take a crack at cases where another lawyer didn’t think it could be successful. Maybe the person has been looking for a lawyer for a while, and they were getting a lot of ‘Nos’ and closed doors. But when you take a closer look, there’s actually quite a good case that you can do something with,” says Warfe.

“Those are sometimes the more gratifying cases,” he says.

Because of his background in neuroscience, Warfe says he takes on a significant amount of matters involving brain injuries.

“It wasn’t something I exclusively sought out despite my background in neuroscience, but I ended up getting a surprising number of calls because of it. It’s nice to actually leverage that experience toward my law practice,” he adds.

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