“I particularly enjoy the interaction of the law, science and medicine as well as bringing technology to the art of persuasion.”
John A. Olah, Partner, Beard Winter LLP, 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. Find out what inspires him and how he is making a major impact in his area of practice in this insightful interview.
- Who or what inspires you the most in your career?
I was inspired to go to law school when I was given the biography of the famous American criminal lawyer, Clarence Darrow and his successful defence of John Scopes, a biology teacher, in 1925 in a small southern US town. Scopes was prosecuted for teaching the theory of evolution contrary to a state law.
I was also greatly influenced by Escott Reid, the first Principal of Glendon College, and George Tatham, the Dean at Glendon College, who taught me to have “fire in the belly”, that is passion for justice, and to be a renaissance man, a well-rounded person.
I was also touched by the great Bora Laskin, who blazed a new and modern trail in Canadian law and by the remarkable American trial lawyer, Melvin Belli, and his innovative trial techniques. Belli’s picture and a photograph of the Laskin Court still sit over my desk.
- What does a ‘good day’, or success, look like for you in your work?
Helping my clients achieve a just result on the evidence and the law.
- What challenges or motivates you most about your particular area of practice?
My law practice cuts across a broad spectrum of cases ranging from negligence law, sports law, environmental law and private international law. I particularly enjoy the interaction of the law, science and medicine as well as bringing technology to the art of persuasion.
- Apart from encyclopedic knowledge of the law, is there a single trait that you think all effective lawyers share?
Far from having an encyclopedic knowledge of law, I believe that good judgment, hard work, scrupulous investigation and preparation coupled with creativity, civility and a respect for the rule of law are some of the common traits that make a good trial lawyer.