Mandin Law: Finding ways to resolve legal disputes quickly, cost-effectively
After spending almost a decade at a Bay St. law firm, Toronto civil litigator Stephany Mandin has hung out her own shingle to continue her work assisting everyday people with their legal disputes.
Although she’s never worked in government, Mandin says she feels as though she’s spent her entire career in civil service. Now, at Mandin Law, she is building a niche practice devoted to “finding easier ways to resolve legal disputes quickly, effectively and cost-efficiently.”
“As lawyers, I really believe we’re civil servants,” Mandin tells AdvocateDaily.com. “When someone comes in with a legal problem that seems mystifying and scary to them, we help them turn it into something less daunting and more manageable by giving them some measure of control, and a feeling that someone is in their corner.”
Mandin will also retain a link to Goldman Hine, continuing to act as counsel to her old firm. That move makes sense given their complementary focuses, she says.
“It’s a commercial litigation firm, but my practice has developed more towards civil litigation and administrative law. Because that tends to impact individuals with contract disputes, human rights issues or employment law matters, there is not much overlap. I wanted to devote myself full time to the niche I have developed, so it felt like the right time to break while maintaining that positive relationship.”
Mandin’s interest in the intersection of law and society dates back much further than her call to the bar in 2006.
“From a very young age, it was a running joke that I was the family’s resident lawyer,” she says. “I was fiercely attuned to social justice issues, a sense of fairness and standing up for underdogs. If someone was picked on in class, I wanted to help.”
At Osgoode Hall Law School, Mandin explored those interests further, participating in the school’s poverty law intensive before being hired back as a summer student at the Parkdale Community Legal Services clinic.
“Having that on-the-ground experience working with legal aid clients really solidified my passion for legal issues that impact everyday people,” Mandin says.
After articling at a litigation boutique in Toronto and working as an associate for two years, she completed a master’s degree in socio-legal studies, concentrating her thesis on Charter jurisprudence and economic discrimination.
“When I graduated in 2009, I felt like I had a broader knowledge of where I could be of service,” Mandin says.
The nature of the practice she has built means Mandin’s client base is as broad and varied as Canadian society itself.
“Some are very sophisticated and savvy, and want to discuss aggressive strategies at a high level,” she says.
But others — particularly in the area of human rights law, where Mandin has acted for a number of victims of sexual assault — have contrasting needs.
“Those clients need a different level of service because they’re often very unfamiliar with the legal system,” she adds.
Whoever the client, Mandin’s tailored approach is designed to make them feel secure in the knowledge that they are in good hands.
“To each client, this is the most important thing going on in their life,” she says.
Mandin adds that she likes to begin every file by warning her clients of the realities of litigation.
“It’s very time-consuming and can get very expensive, very quickly,” she says. “They should have a clear, informed understanding before they do anything.
“Then we’ll look at the documents they have, talk about their ultimate goals and ideal resolutions, and I will walk them through the biggest risks and advantages of each option in front of them.”
Mandin says she’s enjoying the challenge of starting her own firm.
“In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be such an overwhelming need for litigation but, fortunately, or unfortunately, that means there is always a stream of business,” she says. “My priority is making sure the transition is as smooth as possible for my clients.”