Law School: Graduated from The University of Western Ontario
Bar Admission: 1981
Stewart's Areas of Practice
Wills and Estates
Stewart’s area of practice is as a traditional solicitor, which include Real Estate, Wills and Estates, Business law, Corporate Structures and Reorganizations.
Since being called to the Bar in 1981, Stew has become one of the most experienced real estate practitioners in the City of London. London was the first jurisdiction in Ontario and one of the first in the world to go to an Electronic Registration system (ER) and Stew, along with three other lawyers, were part of the original Beta testing with the Province of Ontario for the ER system. He also helped develop much of the standard closing documentation that is used in many parts of Ontario to this day.
As a result of his experience in real estate Stew, has been able to build a real estate team of four associate lawyers and as a group they have developed a different approach to providing real estate services in the City of London and surrounding areas. Much of his time is now actively managing the real estate team.
Over his 40 years, he has done a significant number of Wills and Powers of Attorney and as time has gone on, he has assisted Executors (Estate Trustees) on an ever increasing number of estate matters. Stew has also developed a number of corporate clients for which he provides ongoing corporate governance, new incorporations and re-organizations for existing businesses including as part of succession planning.
Stew was born and raised in London, did his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario and obtained his L.L.B. from Western in 1979. He works with his son and daughter, who are in related businesses, and Stew remains active playing golf, tennis and squash on a regular basis.
Personal Message on Future Plans
After 40 years of practising law I am asked from time to time by clients and professionals I work with what my retirement plans are. Not only is this a natural question, it is important to me to let people know what my succession plans are. Simply put it is my intention to continue to practise on a full time basis for at least the next 4 years as set out below.
My plans are to reduce my hours from well over 50 hours a week (largely due to Covid) to closer to 40 hours. Over the last year I have been gradually spending more time managing our Real Estate Department, assigning clients to associate lawyers and overseeing and assisting the associate lawyers on their files including problem solving on difficult files. I have been spending less time actively working on files on a day to day basis.
The practice of real estate has changed so dramatically over the years that it involves much more time sitting down with clients to review real estate documents. As described on our website, we have redesigned the way our real estate department delivers its services. By spending more time overseeing and managing our real estate team as the Manager of Real Estate Services, our firm will be better able to effectively and efficiently service our clients’ needs.
By moving into the role of Manager of Real Estate Services, I will be reviewing the vast majority of new files that come into the office to identify any issues and special circumstances earlier on in the process and to coordinate who the appropriate lawyer should be and to assign the senior legal assistant best qualified to handle that file. While the goal is for our associate lawyers to have the main responsibility for seeing clients on the majority of files and completing those files, I will continue to look after some files, especially for existing clients. I have the utmost confidence in our associate lawyers, each of whom has significant experience, and more importantly they have already been exposed to more complicated issues than most real estate lawyers.
My approach on non real estate files (Estates, Wills, Corporate and Commercial) will be similar; I will be there to provide guidance and my expertise on the more complicated matters but to have our associate lawyers assume and take on more responsibility for the day to day carriage of those files.
Like most jobs, the practice of law has become much more time consuming with added stresses. The changes noted above allow me to reduce my hours to a more comfortable pace and keep me healthy, while allowing me to spend more time problem solving and using my experience and expertise to better allow our real estate team to provide high quality legal services effectively and efficiently.