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Civil Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Criminal, Personal Injury

Richard Shekter: a fierce advocate in complex cases

Being embroiled in a legal dispute is one of the most stressful situations people will face, and having an experienced advocate to help them navigate the justice system can make all the difference, says Toronto civil litigator Richard Shekter.

For individuals and businesses, legal disputes can be complex, time-consuming and costly, and everyone deserves an advocate who can walk them through the process, says Shekter, a partner with Shekter Sychtenberg LLP, a Bay Street litigation law firm.

“The most effective advocates are fierce and have a combination of brilliance, compassion and experience,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Over the past 30 years, he has worked on a number of leading cases in criminal, civil, health, personal injury, corporate, medical malpractice, employment law, and administrative litigation.

A recipient of the H. Bruce T. Hillyer award for outstanding contribution to the cause of civil justice, Shekter says he thrives on helping clients resolve disputes, whether it’s a criminal case, a civil matter or a Charter challenge.

“In Regina v. Pinnacle Transport, we successfully proved a breach of Charter rights, resulting in a cost award against the Crown,” he says, noting that as a result of the award, the Crown was essentially forced to pay for Pinnacle’s entire defence.

In Rotstein v. Smith, a hotly-contested estate dispute, Shekter obtained one of the first summary judgments in estate litigation in a case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada for a successful result.  Once again, he obtained a costs award compelling the losing side to underwrite the majority of his client’s legal fees.

While many of his peers specialized in one area of law or another, Shekter instead opted to heed the advice of a mentor to build a general litigation practice that specializes in complex and technical civil, personal injury, medical malpractice and criminal cases.

“I worked under Eddie Greenspan in the early days and was leaning heavily toward criminal law, but I was told I would be infinitely more effective as a general barrister whose practice included criminal law. Working on different types of cases — medical malpractice, personal injury, murder — brings a new, and often innovative perspective to every case,” he says.

Shekter is frequently sought out for legal analysis and commentary on high-profile criminal and civil matters, including those involving Paul Bernardo, Jian Ghomeshi and former Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

“In cases where the public is highly invested, there's great value in having a variety of perspectives weigh in. It helps provide a better understanding of the issues and potential implications of the case,” he says.

The role of educator is a natural fit for Shekter who has lectured extensively in Canada through the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, The Advocates' Society, the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association.

“I’ve taught many courses to lawyers to help them sharpen their skills in a variety of areas. I've given many seminars to personal injury lawyers on issues such as presenting brain injury cases, how to prepare the cross-examinations of expert witnesses — including those engaged in personal injury cases — as well as how to defend and challenge expert reports," he says.

Shekter enjoys the cerebral challenge of crafting lectures that can both inspire and educate lawyers on specific points or practices in law.

“To be an effective litigator, you have to be a great storyteller. You have to be able to engage your audience and convince them of the veracity of your arguments,” he says.

For more than 25 years, Shekter was general counsel to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and the College of Dental Technologists of Ontario.  He also appears regularly before other health colleges representing a variety of health professionals including physicians, dentists, psychologists and nurses.

“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with many health professionals on a variety of files, and over the years I’ve received many referrals from both lawyers and health-care professionals, which is gratifying,” he says.

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