President's Report | June 2021
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members for nominating me as your President for the upcoming year. It would be an understatement to have known the uncertain circumstances in which I will be serving my term.
To tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Montreal, growing up in the Italian enclave of St. Michel. Yes, I am a Canadiens fan, even during these lean years. My parents were both immigrants from Italy. I completed my undergraduate degree at McGill and decided to leave home and study law at the University of Windsor. I moved to Hamilton to article with Yachetti, Lanza and Restivo in 1992. In 1994, upon being called to the bar, I decided to set up shop with Sam Garcea, and we continue to be together after 27 years, longer than we have been with our spouses. I practice criminal and mental health law. I am married to my wonderful wife Susan, and we have a lovely teenage daughter Juliette.
I first became involved with the Association in 1998, sitting on the Professional Issues Committee, and was nominated a Trustee in 2013. In all my years of involvement, I have been amazed by the hard work and dedication by all our volunteers. The volunteer spirit has resulted in The Hamilton Law Association becoming the envy of all law associations in Ontario. The countless hours of service by our membership have taken the form of organizing seminars, speaking at events, writing columns in our Journal, committee involvement, and providing input on legal issues. This involvement by our members is at the core of our success as an Association.
We are living and practicing in times of anxiety and uncertainty. A year ago, we were experiencing our first lock down. Many of us were still learning how to practice virtually. Our courts shut down, it was a first for many things, and we were still faced with many unknowns. One year later, our courts have partially reopened, and many have ventured back to their offices. We have greater knowledge about the virus, and we now have vaccinations as a tool to combat the virus.
I recently went to the library and saw a framed photograph of the annual Association picnic. The date was July, 1914. The date struck me, and being a history buff, I realized the lives of these individuals would be impacted by the commencement of the First World War only a month later in August, 1914. Looking back, our experience during these difficult times cannot compare to the horrors experienced in the trenches. One cannot predict how we will be living our lives a year from now, but 107 years after that picnic was held, the Association, and we as a profession, have always remained strong when faced with adversity.
I am truly proud to be part of a profession that took on the challenges presented to us. We adapted to new technologies, changing how we interact with our clients and how we provide our services.
The Association immediately started making necessary changes to assist its members. CPD events are being provided virtually, and our library continues to serve its members. We will continue to be presented with new challenges, but we are prepared to take on what the future may have in store for us. One of the issues that has been presented to us is the decision by the Law Society to cut our library funding. We have been working with FOLA, and the Association has independently been addressing this unexpected funding decision.
The Association’s ability to be pragmatic and innovative during these times must be credited to our fearless Executive Director, Rebecca Bentham. Under her direction, we have been able to continue to support the membership. The dedication of our staff, particularly Wendy Spearing who has handled our finances, have been a valuable asset to us.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our past President, Kanata Cowan, for her great leadership throughout the past year. She was not provided with a blueprint on how to lead the Association during these times. Through her hard work and dedication, she was able to guide us through uncharted territory.
I have now been handed the helm, still faced with the unknown, but I have the confidence and assurance of support from the members, trustees and staff. This support will be my biggest asset and strength in helping lead the Association.