Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Mark Weintraub of Clark Wilson in Vancouver, Canada.
In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
My British Columbia practice is estate and trust litigation and adult guardianship. My practice consists of challenging Wills based upon incapacity and undue influence and dealing with negligently or fraudulently administered estates.
Who would be your typical client?
We have two types of typical clients- individuals and institutions. Individuals can find themselves embroiled in any number of different types of disputes:
Adult children, not infrequently challenge a Will based upon undue influence; incapacity or some technical defect in a Will and in our jurisdiction, may seek to vary a will if it does not provide adequate support which may under circumstances include the judicial imposition of moral obligations.
Spouses, particularly spouses of second marriages, also seek our counsel for similar types of challenges. Of course there are numerous other issues related to estate litigation including negligent or fraudulent adminstration of an estate; estate and power of attorney accountings; and adult guardianship applications all of which involve individuals.
Our institutional clients, if they are trust companies, are often engaged in adminstration disputes while our non- profit or charitable clients who are named in wills as beneficiaries, endure "collateral damage" in the event that a spouse or child challenges a will.
I am of course simplifying matters and there are a myriad of other situations that involve both our individual and institutional clients.
What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
I would like our clients to know that we have one of the largest group of estate litigators in Canada such that we are able to provide an appropriate skill and billing level for every circumstance. We endeavour to run a file like a business file. And finally the watchword of our firm is "service" and we use our best efforts to provide the highest level of service to our clients.
What has been your most challenging case? Why?
There is no one challenging case; but the most challenging cases are typically a second wife who has been left out of a Will and has attracted the emnity of the children from the first marriage. Typically she is not sophisticated and foresees herself as cast out on the street. The emotion permeating such a case makes resolution very difficult.
What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
There is no one proudest moment; of course when you receive a winning judgment or you negotiate what you know is an excellent settlement there is a sense of pride. But most lawyers try to invest in each file- irrespective of the amount involved- a committment to excellence so that when an excellent result is achieved, one naturally feels a sense of pride.
More specifically I think it would be fair to say that those cases that involve the most creative arguments; those cases that don’t have precedent and you are charting new ground; and those cases where there is a lot at stake for the individual- those are the cases that engender that special sense of satisfaction.
What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
When I am not practicing law I am thinking about how to develop the practice of law; spend time with my family including two wonderful daughters and their husbands and great friends.
What would surprise people most about you?
I don’t know- none of us are one -dimensional and nothing should ever surprise us about another person- but if I had to choose- that I put myself through University of Toronto Law School while working for the Toronto Parks Board.
What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
A file I received acting for the State of Israel in an estate matter. It was a great honour to provide this service since much of my volunteer work has been centred on charitable causes for Israel.
What career would you have chosen if you weren’t a lawyer?
Hands Down: Bridge Engineer.
If a movie were made of your life, who would you want to play you?
I actually was in a movie and I played a Rabbi; if a movie was made of me, I would have wanted Norman Mailer to play me.
How would you like to be remembered?
Sounds like writing my own obituary- but it is actually an important question; I think I would like to be remembered the way many of us would be: that I lived life to my potential- to the best of my abilities; that I have brought more healing than harm into the world; that I was a good friend; loyal business partner; devoted family member and caring of those parts of the natural world such as gardens or animals that have come into my charge.