Our law firm has been a part of Innisfil history for some 44 years and we had great fun reminiscing about our early days! Here’s Part 2 of our proposed contribution!
If you haven't read part 1, it can be found here.
Although Anna, Nicole and Heather moved on, we’re proud and grateful that many of our work colleagues have stayed with us for many years. In 1981, Donna Young (now Neal) came to work for us on a high school work week and then continuing on in the summers through completion of her college diploma at Georgian College in 1984 when she joined us full time. In 1989 Donna did leave for a ten year stint doing other things, including executive assistant to Ed Harper, the only Reform MP in Ontario following the 1993 federal election: but we’re happy she rejoined us in 1999 and is still with us. Daughter of well-known Stroud residents Jack and Marian Young, Donna seems either to be related to everyone in Innisfil or at the very least to know everyone and all their family members too!
2016 was Julie Rhodes’ twenty-fifth anniversary with our firm. Among many other tasks, Julie runs our systems, orders our supplies, pays our bills and balances our books with meticulous attention to detail.
By 2017, Kelly Campbell had given us 30 years of dedicated service as our lead real estate clerk: our firm was her first job right out of Georgian College. Kelly’s understanding that buying and selling a house is a major life event and her determination to make each transaction go as smoothly as possible have helped make her a great favourite with real estate lawyers, clerks and clients.
Tonya Hamilton first joined us twenty years ago and has worked with us almost continuously (except for some maternity breaks along the way, contributing three lovely daughters to Stroud’s population). Familiar with many areas of our practice, most recently she has focussed on estate administration. Tonya’s talent for numbers and her human compassion support clients who have been appointed estate trustees and often take on these complex tasks while grieving loss of a loved one.
Joining us part time in 2014 and then full time in 2015, Laura Leach is the friendly voice greeting you in person or over the phone as our receptionist. Laura also provides very able assistance in the real estate law practice and cheerfully takes on many other tasks to help our firm run smoothly.
And yes: of course we also have other lawyers besides Mike Adams– himself a former president of the Simcoe County Law Association, former bencher of the Law Society of Ontario, former Board Member at Library Co., and still very active in teaching for the Advocates’ Society. Mike is a civil litigator with a particular interest in estates litigation and construction law who is also often called upon to provide mediation and arbitration services to resolve many types of disputes outside the court.
Ellen Anderson, Mike’s wife and his partner, joined the firm as an articling student in 1996. Polishing off a Master’s during bar admissions, she returned to the firm in 1998 and then took a further year to complete a doctoral thesis in 1999-2000, which was published as the authorized biography of the first woman on the Supreme Court of Canada: Judging Bertha Wilson. Ellen takes on general litigation issues including estate disputes, employment and human rights law. She also offers family law services, working whenever possible out-of-court with collaborative teams and occasionally serving as a dispute resolution officer.
Vanessa Playtis joined us in 2016 after two years of practice in Toronto. Vanessa is a solicitor and works in real estate, wills and business law. She’s active in a local networking group and at the Ontario Bar Association in its real estate section where she recently made a significant contribution to the profession’s understanding of revisions to residential tenancy law.
And in 2018 we have been joined by Perla Smith who will be called to the bar of Ontario in June. Before she came to Ontario in 2008, Perla had already qualified as a lawyer in Mexico. She completed an LL.M. as part of her re-qualification in Ontario. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Perla is well connected to the local Spanish-speaking community and able to offer legal services in both languages.
Forty-four years of firm history: and yes, we do many things differently now than when we began. Early adoption of technological changes enabled us to increase our output efficiency. We experimented with a simple “mag card” word processor in 1977 (even offering coaching to the Georgian College legal secretary program) and followed that in 1983 with purchase of a sole computer making us one of the first computerized law firms in the county. Rapidly moving from just “word processing” to computerized accounting, we developed our own computerized amortization program, court forms and will programs before these were commercially available. In 1986 we took pride again in acquiring one of the first law office fax machines in the county, which made it possible to speed up communications – although until other law firms also had fax machines, it was quite an event to receive an incoming fax, and sometimes staff and clients gathered round to watch! By 1996 we’d begun using email internally and externally: and in 2001 we became one of the first firms in Ontario to store every document we receive or create electronically. Storing documents electronically also helps us connect with our clients and remember all the details of our clients’ particular problems and family dynamics. For almost 30 years every one of us has had a computer on our desktops, and just a click or two calls up all the relevant documents to refresh our memories.
Of course modern technology is a great addition to modern law firms: there can be no question about that. On the other hand, however, we have never forgotten our roots as the oldest full service law firm in the Town of Innisfil. Hanging throughout our offices are framed photographs honouring Innisfil’s early pioneer history: pictures of houses and stores, workers and sports teams, events and individuals. And these great photographs, which our clients often stop to examine and which evoke many reminiscences and comments, were all obtained with the generous help of the Innisfil Historical Society.
From its very earliest days, Innisfil’s progressive history has been built by people helping people. Innisfil is still the kind of community where everybody knows your name. Here at Anderson Adams, the Innisfil Historical Society photographs remind us of that history and we are committed to continuing that history. After 44 years as Innisfil’s law firm, our proud firm motto remains, “Right Beside You.”
That’s it for now for those of us at Anderson Adams. But: how about you? Do you have a story to share with the Innisfil Historical Society to help us all celebrate Innisfil’s 200th anniversary? Learn more and get in touch with the Historical Society here.