Solo and Small Firms Lawyer Spotlight

Barry B. FisherBarry B. Fisher is a mediator and arbitrator in Toronto. His practice focuses on both labour matters as well as employment law matters. In 2011, Barry was awarded the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in ADR. He is the past Chair of the ADR Section of the Ontario Bar Association and was formerly on the executive of the Ontario Labour Management Arbitrators Association and the Labour & Employment Section of the Ontario Bar Association.

We asked Barry about his background, practice and the challenges that he faces as a solo practitioner.

  1. How long have you been practicing law? How did you begin your law career?

    "Since 1979. I articled at Stikeman Elliot, didn’t get asked back, then went to work for a small firm called Rovet and Associates but quit 5 years later because he would not make me a partner. Since 1985 I have been a sole practioner."
  2. What has your approach been to the ‘business of law’ side of the practice?

    "I am always conscious of the necessity of marketing myself as an expert in employment law and ADR. I do this without advertising, rather I participate extensively in CLE and blog about employment law.

    There are three ways to make money. First generate income by doing good work. Secound, control your expenses. Third, make sure you get paid for your work. You need to do all three, otherwise it doesn’t work.
  3. What challenges are presenting themselves and how are you handling them?

    "Staying up on the law is not a challenge because I actually enjoy reading employment cases and updating both my blog and the Wrongful Dismissal Database.

    As most employment mediations are a half day, you have to generate a lot of work to stay busy. Moreover cancellations often occur very late in the day so you cannot fill in the lost time with any other work.

    This used to bother me alot. Now if I get a cancellation and my day is shot I go to my cottage, have a Corona and enjoy the day.
  4. What is a typical day like for you? What is the best part of your job?

    "I wake up at 7:45. I have coffee with my friends at Secound Cup and pull into the office at 10 am for my mediation or arbitration . I usually finish at 5 pm then I read tomorrow’s case and go home to my loving wife of almost 40 years.

    The best part of my job is settling cases and being told by the clients and lawyers that they didn’t think it would settle.

    The worst part of my day is when it doesn’t settle. What did I do wrong?
  5. On a totally different note, how do you like to spend your time when you are not at work?

    "I go to my cottage in Bala whenever I can. There I can hang out with my two lovely granddaughters ( a third is on the way ) and spend some quality time in my workshop fixing and building things."


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