In this edition of the OBA Health Law’s section insider, we spoke with Patrick Hawkins, this year’s recipient of the Susan Davidson Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law. Patrick is a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), and the former National Leader of BLG’s Health Law Group. We asked Patrick a number of questions about his practice and the career path which led to his nomination.
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself: where did you grow-up, what law school did you go to, and how long have you been practicing?
I was born in northern Manitoba, where my mother had been a nurse at the Thompson General Hospital and my father worked as an accountant for INCO. We moved to Mississauga when I was six and I have spent most of my life since that time in the Toronto area. I started university in an accounting program at the University of Waterloo, but decided that was not what I wanted to be and switched to law. I went to Queen’s University for my LL.B. and then completed a LL.M. degree in public law at University of Cambridge. I articled for the Ontario Court of Appeal and joined Borden & Elliot (now Borden Ladner Gervais) in 1992. I started more in commercial litigation, but health law interested me more (perhaps because my mom was a nurse). I have now practiced at BLG for over 30 years.
- Your nominator spoke highly of your dedication to mentoring. How do you view your role as a mentor and how has it changed over the years?
Mentorship is about providing people with opportunities and then helping them to succeed in those opportunities. It’s about trusting a junior lawyer with a task that is a bit beyond their comfort zone. I had two wonderful mentors, Rino Stradiotto and Bill Carter, who supported and encouraged me throughout my early career. I remember my first trial with Rino, where our expert witness was surprised by some questions in cross-examination, and he seriously damaged our case because he mishandled the questions. We wanted to recall him to correct his answers. I researched all night to see if this was permissible or not, and found nothing for or against the principle. Notwithstanding that the other lawyer was telling us that this could not be done and the case law was against us, Rino trusted me and my research, got up in court the next morning and argued our motion to recall the expert. It turned out that the other lawyer was bluffing and there was no case law on point. Rino trusted me and my work as a young lawyer and relied on it. He did not have time to check it and had to depend on me to have got it right. That is what you need to be able to do as a mentor.
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