Q&A with David F. Smye, OBA Award of Excellence in Insurance Law Recipient

  • 19 mai 2020

"[My clients] are the underdogs in the legal process against Corporate Insurers. I love the challenge of evening that playing field."

David F. Smye, Q.C., Mackesy Smye Lawyers, is one of two legal leaders being honoured this year with the OBA Award of Excellence in Insurance Law for his outstanding leadership and contribution to the advancement of insurance law. Gain a glimpse of what motivates him and how he is making a difference in his area of practice in this candid Q&A.

  1. Who or what inspires you most in your career?

I had the privilege of beginning my career in the early seventies. This was an era when the Trial was the major means by which legal disputes were resolved. My legal heroes were the great Trial lawyers of that era. There were many such legal legends. We had several of those legends in Hamilton and I was fortunate enough to do Trial work with them. They inspired me.

I was also fortunate to article for and ultimately become a partner of one of those legends, the late Honourable Justice White. One of his "must dos" was that all lawyers and students of the firm attend the annual spring symposium in the University of Michigan where the best Trial Lawyers of North America would put on comparative Trial Demonstrations. It was inspiring to attend amongst several thousand Trial Lawyers. What a learning experience. I still vividly recall one such Demonstration by the American icon, Gerry Spence when two thousand lawyers all spontaneously gave a thunderous standing ovation after one such demonstration. All of it was so inspirational.

  1. What does a "good day", or success, look like for you in your work?

A good day is resolving a client's case to their complete satisfaction. When you know your client has received justice and you have played a role in that achievement - that's a "good day".

Of course there is nothing like a day in court with a skillful and successful cross­ examination under your belt - that's also a "good day".

If both happen on the same day - that's a "perfect day".

  1. What challenges or motivates you most about your particular area or practice?

My client's are all victim's of Torts. Their lives have been upended and most often, forever changed. They are the underdogs in the legal process against Corporate Insurers. I love the challenge of evening that playing field.

  1. Apart from encyclopedic knowledge of the law, is there a single trait that you think all effective lawyers share?

Successful trial work has many aspects to it, preparation, advocacy skills and good judgment. However; every case brings with it the necessity of mastering a new set of facts and new learning about the subject matter of the lawsuit. That learning takes us in limitless areas of medicine, physics, chemistry, engineering and many other aspects of science. All cases have a unique context that has to be mastered. I think that all effective Trial Lawyers have an intense curiosity that compels them to conquer all aspects of the factual matrix of every case.