Helping Sexual Abuse Survivors Find Closure

A man is consoling a woman by putting his hands overtop of her clasped hands that are placed on the table. The table has a gavel and round hardwood circular block, scale, laptop, as well as a notary pad and paper envelope.

After almost 30 years representing the insurance industry, my enthusiasm for my chosen profession was waning. My focus was fixed on the management and operations of a law firm, taking me away from what makes me truly happy, practising the law.

It was important for me to do something in my career where I felt I was giving back to people, so, in June, I joined the Sexual Abuse group at Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein Lawyers. I am humbled to be part of an incredible team and I am looking forward to many years of advocating on behalf of sexual assault survivors. My passion for the law has been reignited.

Crossing over to the plaintiff side is a huge change for me. I was born in Hamilton and when I graduated from law school in 1994, I returned to the city and began articling for the law firm where I would spend the next 29 years.

I have represented insurance companies throughout my career, appearing before all levels of courts in Ontario. When I left to join the growing Gluckstein Lawyers' team, I was a managing partner responsible for client relations and the operation of the tort department, which included running a full caseload of files along with mentoring associates and addressing human resources for the group.

However, I needed a change in a big way. My interest had always been in the sexual abuse area. Fortunately, I was able to gain exposure to the area through some of my defence work for insurers. But rather than be on the defence side, I really wanted to represent and advocate on behalf of survivors.

Excited About the New Opportunity.

For the first time in a long time, I am excited about work. I will now delve into issues and provide counsel in an area where my litigation skills can assist survivors through extremely difficult times with the hope of bringing some peace to their lives.

I feel fortunate to be part of Gluckstein Lawyers and the Sexual Abuse group led by senior counsel Simona Jellinek. I have followed Simona for years. She is one of this country’s most experienced and successful lawyers in this field. Simona has done a phenomenal job and has been instrumental in changing important pieces of legislation including the removal of the limitation period in sexual abuse and assault cases. I feel so privileged to work with Simona, Erin Ellis and the rest of the group.

Representing sexual abuse survivors can be heartbreaking. However, being able to hopefully bring some solace to people who have suffered so much in their lives is extremely fulfilling. It is an area of civil litigation that offers the opportunity to listen, understand and help people get the justice they deserve.

It takes empathy, compassion and patience. Our clients have been through so much and the litigation process is one more challenge they are brave enough to face. I am passionate about my new role and what I hope I can accomplish for our clients.

Wealth of Knowledge and Experience.

After almost three decades representing insurers, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I know what it takes to move a file and how to ensure things are done efficiently and effectively along with what insurers need in order to assess claims. As a lawyer for insurance companies, I learned the trauma sexual assault survivors experienced and continued to experience throughout their lives and within the litigation process.

Now, after being the person who asked the tough questions, I am able to effectively prepare clients for examination for discovery, a trial or any circumstance where they might be questioned. I have the benefit of knowing the types of queries that are coming, why they are coming and what they mean to the case.

It is distressing to hear stories of sexual abuse, to see what happens to people and how their lives have been so negatively and inextricably impacted. It can be incredibly difficult for them to trust people after the abuse they have suffered from people who were supposed to protect them.

I often say it speaks volumes about society that sexual abuse and assault has been and remains so prevalent. There is something significantly wrong with a society where the most vulnerable are preyed upon by people in positions of power and trust. who were supposed to protect the best interests of those in their care.

We Are Here to Listen.

It can take years for survivors to be able to come forward to seek justice. The abuse perpetuated on them is a crime of secrecy causing shame and guilt. Many survivors spend their lives attempting to suppress the pain, so to step forward year later is incredibly brave, while also terrifying.

Litigation can be such an invasive process. And we understand. We tell survivors to only pursue a claim if they are in the mindset to do so. It has to be done only when they are ready. And at that time, we can then work to protect their interests and to try to remove, or at least minimize, some of the anxiety and fear litigation brings with it.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to come forward to seek justice. Please reach out to us when you are ready, we will be here and we can help.


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