Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Big Names. Tiny Clients. Gluckstein medical malpractice lawyer Richard Halpern, with his special interest in birth injury cases, to deliver even greater advocacy for children and their families. Often, it's the first question asked by parents whose new- born has suffered physical or cognitive trauma in or around the time of birth – and always, it's the toughest question their lawyer has to answer. What happened to our baby? "This is an enormously complex field in which lawyers have to un- derstand the medicine in order to know what to look out for when researching, reviewing medical records, interacting with experts, and identifying critical issues," warns Richard Halpern, a leading birth injury lawyer who recently joined Gluckstein Lawyers, a Toronto-headquartered personal injury firm ranked among Cana- da's top ten. The move marks the marriage of two big names teaming up to fight for their tiniest clients. "Knowing when a baby gets hurt also requires knowledge of how a baby gets hurt and there are many variables involving neurology, neuroradiology, and obstetrics. There are issues around the mother's pregnancy, what happens during labour, and what occurs after the baby is born such as resuscitation and seizures." The challenges in most birth injury cases are to find out how the baby was injured, when the baby was injured, and what should have been done to prevent the injury. "You can only do that by knowing almost as much as the healthcare professionals you're examining know," says Halpern. To Charles Gluckstein, a specialist in civil litigation and the partner leading innovation at the firm his father, Bernard Gluckstein, found- ed in 1962, the addition of Halpern further bolsters Gluckstein Law- yers' leadership position in med- ical malpractice, especially in the birth injury space. "By Richard joining the firm and bringing his practice here, we've doubled efforts and resources, and our combined experience tallies almost 100 years." This wealth of knowledge goes a long way towards providing relief to injured infants and their families who often have a long and rough road ahead. A child diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy requires lifelong care with life- long costs, and in many of the cases, the damages can exceed $10 million. But birth injury, Gluckstein warns, is a high-risk, high-stakes area of law and one he doesn't think lawyers should dabble in. Among the challenges: the staggering cost of financing, the many years it takes to reach a resolution, and the daunting task of going up against well-funded and top- notch defence lawyers represent- ing the opposition, the Canadian Medical Protection Association (CMPA). "We appreciate and respect refer- rals, but also, we want to share our knowledge and expertise. To that end, we're willing to take on financial risk, to mentor and teach. And, if you want to work on the case, we'll bring you in as co-counsel."

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