Halpern “Never Lets Guard Down” When It Comes To Birth Injury Cases – Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
Malpractice is perhaps the most demanding area of personal injury law, and few know it better than Richard Halpern of Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers.
For Halpern, a senior attorney with the firm and a leading Canadian lawyer specializing in birth injury litigation, it’s not just a calling, it’s a constant pursuit of knowledge.
“I worked on my first birth injury case about 30 years ago and started working with experts in the field. I realized that it is an extremely difficult, very challenging area and you really have to do a lot of work to do it well “, he says. “I decided I really wanted to become one of the best medical malpractice attorneys in the country, and spent the next two decades getting acquainted with science. I study literature, interact with top medical professionals all the time, and do whatever it takes to make sure I’m doing the best job for these kids. “
BILA founding member
This pursuit of knowledge and excellence led Halpern to become one of the founding members of the Birth Injury Lawyers Alliance (BILA), an exclusive group of lawyers from across Canada.
BILA was founded in 2016 by lawyers with considerable experience in birth injury cases to better serve their young clients and their families.
“The founding members of BILA attended conferences and educational seminars, and we got together to talk about medicine and experimental tactics,” he says. “We decided to create this group to make sure we were keeping up with medicine and science. These cases are extremely complicated. Medicine is very complicated, so it is important to share knowledge, strategies and experiences. “
Halpern says it is not just a challenge to lay the foundations necessary to be an effective advocate for birth injury victims; it can be a monumental task to keep up with new developments.
“You have to research,” he says, “it’s a constant effort, a never-ending learning process, and you can’t be on your guard.”
Collaboration and an all-for-one approach
While the lawyers at BILA work completely independently, they work together on the strategy and the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
“BILA attorneys share access to legal and medical resources to ensure that all of their birth injury clients receive the highest quality representation and the most up-to-date information necessary to effectively prosecute these difficult cases. Regular communication and contact between the members of BILA should maintain the competence to act in these matters “, according to the alliance.
“In a certain way, every client, regardless of their BILA lawyer, benefits from the shared knowledge and experience of all BILA members. It is a significant advantage to be able to access this impressive depth and breadth of experience. “
The group’s all-for-one approach has obvious benefits for malpractice victims and their families, Halpern says.
“If there is something I don’t really know, I can always call my colleagues at BILA to find the answer, or we will talk it out or someone has the literature that I am missing,” he says. “It’s a very important resource and helps ensure that the parents and children we counsel get the representation they deserve.”
An exclusive group of leading lawyers
Halpern says BILA “has some of the best lawyers in any jurisdiction doing this type of job,” and membership will remain exclusive.
Halpern says that few people – even those who practice personal injury law – realize how difficult and complicated cases of birth injury can be.
“Often times, cases don’t move forward because the people who look at them haven’t properly investigated the case or simply haven’t had the experience to analyze it as carefully as a birth injury attorney must,” Halpern added. “This is not the type of field to try. Too much is at stake.”
Leader in medical liability law
The Holland Group
Halpern is also a member of the Holland Group, chaired by former Ontario Court of Appeal Judge John Laskin. It is also an exclusive committee made up of attorneys from both the Plaintiffs and the Chambers of Defense.
“The Holland Group is made up of some of the best medical malpractice attorneys in Ontario who work in a very collaborative manner on key issues to establish best practices in our field,” says Halpern. “The remarkable thing about this group is how coherent it is and how well its members work together to find common goals on matters that are important to the justice system as a whole.”
Criticism of SHAB guidelines
Halpern has also written at length on birth trauma issues, both legal and medical. He recently wrote a detailed review of the 2020 Clinical Practice Guideline No. 396, issued in March by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.
“I presented this review and I will probably be presenting again pretty soon,” he says. “In my article, I found that the best defense against litigation is better medical care. The medical profession needs to reduce the number of children affected by asphyxiation while at work. That is the best way to reduce the number of lawsuits to reduce.”
Junk Science and the Need for Rigorous Research
Halpern says he’s “always on the lookout for junk science”.
“One thing that succeeds in the literature is creating barriers for plaintiffs to succeed in medical malpractice cases,” he explains. “It does this by publishing literature in reputable medical journals that can be used to shield liability.”
Halpern says he is looking for the “junk science” papers and will point out flaws in the results.
“It seems to me that some in the obstetric community are more interested in defending lawsuits than promoting better baby health,” he says. “My hope is that I can highlight the shortcomings in some of this published literature and get health professionals to think more about guidelines and approaches that will reduce disease in babies rather than giving them ammunition to fight lawsuits.”
Halpern says, “The job of a lawyer is to examine the facts and circumstances of each case to determine if they are legitimate and then to provide solid and reliable advice to their clients.”
To be effective, attorneys have to go the extra mile, especially in an area as demanding as medical malpractice.
“There is no substitute for hard work. If you want to be at the top, you have to work hard, and I do it,” says Halpern.
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