“Law is largely about analysis, which is closer to science than art. But solutions for most legal issues also demand creativity and a passion for excellence. These elements of the practice of law are more aligned with artistic endeavours.” - Gary Kuzyk
Gary Kuzyk Associate
If Gary Kuzyk is your lawyer, you’re in no ordinary associate’s hands. A trial and arbitration litigator with more than 33 years of experience (15 in private practice and 18 as a senior solicitor for a large municipality), Gary has seen it all. Literally. His non-traditional approach to dispute resolution, including early mediation, fits well with Scarfone Hawkins’s commitment to innovative, client-centred solutions. His love of a good Larson cartoon tells you a little about his sense of humour.
So good the other side hired him.
Gary Kuzyk impressed Scarfone Hawkins partner David Thompson so much that he invited Gary to join the firm—even though the two had been on opposing sides.
“Dave, like me, looks for non-traditional ways of resolving a matter,” Gary says. “I suggested to him that we have a retired judge as mediator/arbitrator. That way if the mediation failed, the former judge could put on an arbitrator’s hat so we could do in two days what might take a week at trial.”
The case that won him a position at Scarfone Hawkins is simply business as usual for Gary, who prefers to find creative solutions to disputes. “I’d rather see a happy client exit early than a happy client after a lengthy fight,” he says. “The sooner a client doesn’t need me, the better.”
That’s not to say Gary isn’t up for a good tussle in the courtroom. “I’ve often compared myself to Henery Hawk, Foghorn Leghorn’s feisty nemesis from Looney Tunes,” he laughs. “Chicken hawks eat chickens. If I’m in a fight I’m not going to back down because my opponent is from a bigger firm or has a reputation for fighting hard. If they want to pick a fight, I won’t be bullied.”
The title on Gary’s business card is “Associate” but his experience equals that of a partner in many law firms. His litigation record includes mediation, arbitration, tribunal hearings and trials and he has worked in pretty much every area of civil litigation and administration tribunals. His work on two defamation actions, both of which took him to the Ontario Court of Appeal, contributed to clarifications to the law regarding libel in the media.
For years, Gary focused on personal injury and employment and labour law. Recently he’s reinvigorated his practice by taking on estate litigation work. “I’ve got my legal mojo back because I’m doing something exciting and different,” he says. “Estate litigation is an area I’d like to grow at Scarfone Hawkins.”
Gary has appeared a number of times, with substantial success, before the Ontario Court of Appeal. Two of those appearances contributed significantly to clarification of the law surrounding the notice requirement in libel claims involving publication in the media.
Gary’s trial and tribunal appearances span almost the entire gamut of dispute adjudication, including commercial and bank litigation, wrongful dismissal trials, labour arbitrations, estate litigation applications, personal injury, libel and other tort litigation, workplace safety and human rights tribunal work and construction contract trials.
Gary has frequently proposed and successfully mediated settlement of threatened or potential claims even before the start of lawsuits. One of those matters involved a global mediation between Gary’s client and 10 different claimants in a complex fire loss liability case.
Gary understands the pressures and challenges facing senior managers and senior human resources professionals. While in-house municipal counsel, Gary undertook a nine-month secondment during which he assumed the duties of the position of Director of Labour Relations, with responsibility for eight staff members who handled labour relations issues with 13 unions representing approximately 5,000 employees.
" Q: Proudest moment."− A: “There isn’t one moment—it’s more of a philosophy. I’m proud of my approach to litigation, which I liken to preventive medicine. If people are properly advised before they get into potential litigation, they can often avoid it.”
" Q: Personal quality that’s served you well. "− A: “Self-deprecation. I’m pretty good at a lot of things, but I know my limitations and I don’t take myself too seriously.”
" Q: Your unofficial job title."− A: “I’m the self-appointed team tidiness and efficiency expert. People regularly joke about how tidy my desk is and it seems like wherever I go, I help people use technology to save themselves time.”