Giving thanks for Lawyers?

Today is Thanksgiving the U.S.A.  so I am taking some time to reflect on the things I am thankful for in our giant neighbour to the south.  There are the obvious things: Ben & Jerry’s,  Whole Foods & Krispy Kreme donuts.  I see a theme here … I’m sure there are non-food related items I’m thankful for as well, really I am.

My end of the firm (litigation) does a lot of business with US companies as well as Canadian companies who have fact situations that involve the US.    This often confuses potential clients as they are not sure when they need a Canadian lawyer instead of a US lawyer.

I always look at the ultimate goal of litigation when determining where to sue.  The ultimate goal is to get money in the hands of my client, so how can I do that in the most cost effective and quickest manner?  The answer is not always the same.

Generally, if a Canadian company has done business with a company in the USA and that business was located in the USA, they’re better off to retain a US lawyer to sue there.  Similarly, if a USA company has done business in Canada with a Canadian company, better to sue here as you will be able to enforce that judgment where the assets are without adding the additional complication of trying to enforce a USA judgment in Canada.

While we have much in common with the US, we have many differences when it comes to our legal systems – not the least of which is cost.  In Canada, the winner of a stage of a law suit is generally awarded their legal fees.  In the USA it is generally, each party pays for their own fees, regardless of result. 

When I file comes into our firm which clearly should be started in the US, I am able to draw on my 17 years of experience & meeting counsel to refer people to lawyers who I know to be competent, cost effective & like minded to our firm … I suppose I could be thankful for those USA lawyers today, but really, who is ever thankful for lawyers?

Inga B. Andriessen, J.D.