Chris Dawson Would Definitely Be a University Professor.
Chris Dawson – The personal injury lawyer and partner answers some rapid-fire questions…
If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be:
A university professor. Before law school, I had just completed my Master’s degree and wasn’t sure if I’d go into law or go for a Phd. I chose law and haven’t looked back.
Best career advice I’ve gotten:
Your career isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.
The three qualities that got me where I am today:
Determination, respect and kindness to everyone, and work ethic.
Moment I felt I made it:
My partner and mentor, Nigel Gilby, sent me a cryptic email one day saying “See me – I have something to tell you.” Since I had no idea what he possibly might have to say, I went down to his office right away.
I was pleased to hear that he had been contacted out of the blue by a very experienced and well-reputed Toronto lawyer, who had told him how impressed he was of my conducting of a recent case where he and I were against each other. Nigel then told me that in all his years of practice, this particular lawyer had never done anything remotely like that, and really, this lawyer wasn’t one to give anyone praise, let alone go out of his way to do so.
The easiest career decision I’ve ever made:
As cliché as it may sound, my answer is coming to Lerners. Despite having lived a good portion of my life in Essex County, and having completed all of my education at the University of Windsor, I knew from early on in law school that I wanted to practice in London. After having met with some of the Lerners lawyers and staff during my first year of law school, I knew that Lerners was the firm I wanted to be at. Fortunately, they wanted me too!
Favorite perk of the job:
Meeting so many incredible people. The nature of personal injury work brings me into contact with a great diversity of people. People from different areas of the province, people with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and people with different life experiences. Rather than work for the same one client year in and out, it is a total perk to meet and learn about many of my clients and their families.
Worst pitfall of the job:
When I hear or read about the tragedies my clients have endured, it becomes personal to me. I cannot help but right away put myself or my family in my clients’ situation and personalize it. When that occurs, it hits close to home and, while I think it can help me better appreciate my clients and their circumstances, it can lead to some pretty challenging days.
What does your career look like in 5 years?:
I imagine it will be pretty much the same. I love practicing the type of law I practice. Hopefully, in 5 years’ time I’ll have helped more people and made many more lifelong friends.
Change you’d like to see in your industry?:
I would like a return to the former system we had in Ontario when accident victims were able to sue their accident benefits insurer in the courts.
I also think that the public is not being properly informed of their insurance coverage options (and risks) when they deal with agents and brokers. Time and time again, I hear from people who are not in this industry that they “had absolutely no idea” they could purchase enhanced accident benefits. There needs to be a change toward greater awareness.
Who do you admire and why?:
Scientists and researchers. I get excited when I read about all of the medical and technological advancements that are being worked on. To think that maybe one day there will be a way to regrow a lost limb, there might be a cure for cancer, the discovery new earth-like planets, the list goes on. And to know there are hardworking researchers working day in and out on these pursuits elicits my greatest respect. Many researchers never achieve the big result they were hoping for, but their thankless research is so important for getting humanity closer to the answers.
What’s the last thing you binge-watched?:
Stranger Things. I loved the 80s nostalgia!
What book left a lasting impression on you?:
Kiss of the Fur Queen, by Tomson Highway. It is a powerful novel about the Canadian residential school system.
What song would you want played at your funeral?
That’s a day I try not to think about. I guess something positive that might bring smiles to everyone’s face knowing it was characteristically ‘Chris.’ “Glory, Glory, Man United!”
What should every man try once in his lifetime?
After witnessing my wife give birth to our little girl a week ago, and with the intensity of labour and birth fresh in my mind, I would say every man should try one of those machines that mimics labour contractions. I think men can only remotely fathom what that type of pain is like!
Would live in a foreign country, where would it be?
Cape Town, South Africa. Probably the most scenic city I’ve ever been to, with great people, great weather, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. You have the Atlantic Ocean to your west, the Indian Ocean to the east, the resplendent wildlife of Africa to your north, and some of the best varieties of cuisine you can enjoy anywhere.
If I could compete in an Olympic sport, I’d like it to be:
Hockey! I can only imagine how amazing it would be to put on the red maple leaf jersey and represent Canada in our national sport. It doesn’t hurt that we’d have a great chance at a gold medal, as well 😉
Relationship advice to my younger self:
Savour the moment – be present.