Redress Risk Management (post until May 31/19)

All-rounder Paterson delivers family law results

Toronto family lawyer Carolina Paterson has always been a bit of an all-rounder.

Paterson, an associate with Fogelman Law, considered pursuing a PhD in political science before accepting an offer from the University of Windsor’s faculty of law, where she was named the Dean’s Fellow during her second year of studies. All this while Paterson was developing her skills as a marathoner and tri-sport enthusiast.

And her ability to excel in such disparate interests comes in handy in her professional life too, handling matters for clients whose families are in crisis.

“You have to know a great deal about many things,” Paterson tells “You also have to apply different skills, depending on the circumstances of the case in front of you.

“There’s no point just being a good writer or a good advocate on your feet,” she adds.

In fact, Paterson says that challenge was part of the reason she found herself so attracted to the practice area in the first place, especially after becoming involved in the family law project at Pro Bono Students Canada.

“When you study family law, you realize how many different areas it touches — estates and trusts, corporate law, contracts, almost any type you can think of,” she says. ”I like knowing that it’s going to keep me on my toes and that all those intersections mean I might have to look up a piece of legislation that I haven’t considered for a while.”

The deeply personal nature of family law disputes also appealed to Paterson.

“There’s nothing like helping people with real-world problems,” she says. “Even before law school, I always had a sense that would be a direction I would head in."    

According to Paterson, Fogelman Law’s focus on alternative dispute resolution means many of her clients come through the door with a settlement mindset.  

“By and large, they want as expeditious a resolution as possible,” she says. ”If they have children, then they expect to be involved in some way with their spouse for the rest of their life. As much as they may dislike each other at the moment, it’s about coming to a result they can both live with.”

Paterson, who has also completed an executive education program on Mediation and Negotiation at Harvard Law School, says she likes to engage clients in a risk assessment early on in their relationship.

“That determines the direction we will take in a case, including which are the most effective procedures and legal strategies to adopt,” she explains. “People come in with a certain idea of what they want and what they’re entitled to. There are many calculations to make to determine whether they make sense in the longer term, but it’s better to get an early assessment done, rather than progressing in court by default, and then wondering later on whether you should have gone a different route.”

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