When most people think about lawyers, they think about fancy offices, fancy suits, and very expensive hourly rates. It can all be very intimidating.
When I first started practicing law, I worked in the downtown Toronto core on Bay Street. Bay Street is synonymous with big banks, big finance and the big law firms which represent those large institutions.
What was really odd was that the law firm I used to practice act acted for neither the large banks, or large commercial entities. We acted for seriously injured and disabled people; many of whom did not live in the City of Toronto and if they did rarely ventured into the downtown core. Having our clients come into the office was a chore. They were scared of venturing to downtown Toronto; even if it was to meet with their own personal injury lawyer.
The law firm was accessible on the subway or streetcar, but there was no easily accessible parking which didn’t require a 5+ minute walk through an underground maze (The Path System). And once you got off the TTC, people often got lost. Navagating the elevator bank was also an experience in and of itself. Odd floors servicing certain levels on one side; even floors servicing other levels on another side. If you weren’t there everyday, or weren’t familiar with all of the commotion; it was an intimidating and scary sight.
Keep in mind that the bulk of our law firm’s work at that time was devoted to Plaintiff side personal injury law. Our clients had very real and very visible disabilities (wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, casts) or invisible disabilities (anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, chronic pain). Things weren’t easy for our clients simply getting to our law firm and that didn’t sit right with me. Seeing your own personal injury lawyer shouldn’t be a chore or an anxiety inducing event.
In a smaller community, parking and space were not as scarce. The idea of parking in front of the law firm and not having to pay an arm and a leg to park there; and then simply walking right inside to the law firm seemed like a good idea. No need to hassle finding and paying for parking; no need to hassle with a long and confusing walk from the car to the office; no need to hassle with a confusing set of elevator banks which reached the clouds. Walk in; walk out; get it as simple as that.
And so I did.
Our law firm moved to 167 Sheppard Avenue West, Toronto, during the Pandemic. Still at Yonge and Sheppard.
Our law firm is now accessible as can be. Drive right up and walk right in. Free parking in our own parking lot out front and out back. Handicap accessible ramp with wide hallways to get around. Our Toronto Office is right off Yonge Street, off Highway 401, and accessible by subway or bus. In fact, the bus stops right outside of our office. No confusing or out of service elevators to deal with. No busy or expensive parking lots miles away. Coming to our office could not be any less difficult or intimidating. I would suggest to you that the office is so non-intimidating that we often get strangers knocking on the door asking for directions. These may be honest to goodness people who are simply looking for directions or nefarious characters looking to break in to a personal injury law firm to steal all of the papers inside.
Unfortunately due to COVID the number of visitors has been few and far between. But we are optimistic that things will get back to they way they once were. And when that day comes we will be happy to welcome clients and guests back to our law firm with open arms.
We have a nice live edge wood board room table in our board room. I have never seen such a nice board room table in all of my life. Unfortunately, very few people have seen or used to brand new board room table on account of the Pandemic. I cannot recall a time in my professional career where I have used a board room so infrequently. Mediations are no longer happening in boardrooms. The same can be said for examinations for discovery, statements or client meetings. They are all taking place virtually over Zoom or some other video streaming platform. All of this is rather ironic because I used to work at an office with a shared board room. I would get annoyed when I couldn’t get the boardroom because it was booked by another lawyer. So I left that setting so that I could have the board room whenever I wanted it without needing to compete for boardroom time. And now that I have my very own boardroom without needing to share it with other lawyers; a global Pandemic hits and people aren’t meeting face to face as much as they once did.
There are other perks which I didn’t even realize until after we made the move to our own self contained and accessible office. Bring the dog to work day can be everyday. Need to go outside to get some fresh air? No need to wait for the elevator. The time saved waiting for elevators is quite remarkable and has made everyone (in my opinion) much more efficient and productive. Forget your keys, a wallet or a file at the office? No problem! Just walk back inside and pick it up without having to navigate an underground maze or a parking garage and waste more time in that terrible elevator. No more scheduled fire alarms requiring the entire office building to walk down countless flights of stairs for an ice cream cone at 1030AM. I mean ice cream is great. But ice cream at 1030AM isn’t ideal for your health. No more false fire alarms either.
Friends, family and neighbours want to stop by for a quick socially distanced “hello“? Not a problem and no need to validate parking. Want to decorate the building for Halloween or Christmas Holidays? Consider it done! Having a place to call your own is priceless.