Of all the work that went into his firm’s rebranding, Lawrence Greenspon of Greenspon Granger Hill says picking a launch date was probably the easiest part.
The 36th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was fast approaching, after all. And for a firm like Greenspon’s, which uniquely offers a combination of civil and criminal law and for years has made its name fighting David-and-Goliath-style battles, the symbolism was just too appropriate to pass up.
“It’s what we’re all about – the little guy versus the system,” he says, adding that the rebranding launch party at Prohibition House gastropub drew around 100 family, friends, colleagues, judges, fellow lawyers and businesspeople.
“So what better day to launch than the anniversary of the Charter?”
Indeed, Mr. Greenspon’s renamed firm – formerly known as Greenspon, Brown & Associates – is now down a Brown: Trevor Brown, that is, after he was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice late last year. Justice Brown graduated from the University of Ottawa and had practiced criminal law since 2002, receiving the CCLA Regional Senior Justice Award for outstanding advocacy.
Before becoming a judge, he’d worked with Mr. Greenspon ever since being called to the bar.
“Trevor’s appointment to the bench is a most deserving recognition of his outstanding advocacy, integrity and character,” Mr. Greenspon says. “We wish him all the best and miss him too much.”
Newly-minted partner Eric Granger, along with fellow new partner Tina Hill, agrees.
“The office has always had a family feel to it among the various people we’ve worked with, and Trevor is no exception,” says Mr. Granger, himself a 14-year veteran of the firm. “Lawrence, Trevor and I have been constants since the day I started here. I miss having him around the firm on a daily basis.”
A soft spot for underdogs
Mr. Granger, who deals strictly with criminal cases, also attended the University of Ottawa and remains a part-time professor at the school. He primarily focuses on defending individuals against the coercive power of the state, and has argued appeals cases all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Markham native articled at Mr. Greenspon’s firm following university and enjoyed the experience so much that he never left.
“Lawrence is fundamentally a very caring guy, both on a personal and professional level,” he says. “He was great to start out with in terms of mentorship.”
Ms. Hill, who predominantly practices civil litigation and graduated from Queen’s University in 2001, also has a soft spot for the underdog in a fight. Having been with the firm nearly two years, she focuses on individuals fighting against large organizations such as police services, government and insurance companies.
“(Becoming a partner) is a great opportunity for me to be even more involved in helping people who need help, which is one of the biggest things I like about working with Lawrence,” she says, adding that some of her specialties are serious personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, false arrest, false imprisonment, negligent investigation and excessive force cases.
“Sometimes it just takes one second for your life to change: someone gets in a serious accident, and can’t do their job anymore. So around half of my job is being a social worker, because we do help people through some very difficult situations. We help them come to grips with their situation.”
Dual civil-criminal practice
It was important the rebranding reflect the firm’s dual civil-criminal practice, which Mr. Greenspon says is more common in the U.S. but practically unheard of in Ottawa. The model, he says, makes sense: many cases requiring criminal defence work inevitably end up in civil litigation, naming the Mike Duffy case of 2014 as one such example. Senator Duffy, who is represented by Mr. Greenspon, is now suing the federal government for unfair treatment.
“Having those names in the firm indicates that we do more than criminal law, and I think that’s important,” Mr. Greenspon says. “I think it’s unique. I’ve always done 50-50. The mindset (in criminal and civil law) is the same: it’s you against the system.”