I originally grew up in Toronto and discovered Niagara while attending Brock University. I earned my law degree in 1971 and was called to the Bar in 1973.
I initially practiced in Niagara Falls in various legal associations and subsequently moved my practice to St. Catharines in 1980 to become partner in the law firm of Bench Keogh. When this venerable firm ultimately dissolved, myself and two partners restructured ourselves as Douglas, Stewart & Morningstar, which became Douglas Legal Services and is now Douglas, Morningstar & Bonin LLP.
My Legal Role
I am a practitioner of alternate dispute resolution, utilizing Collaborative Law, and I am also a litigator. My primary areas of law are Family Law, Residential and Commercial Real Estate, Commercial and Business Law and Wills and Estates
I have practiced law for 40 years. I have been involved in numerous trials at all court levels from the Provincial Family Court through the Superior Courts, up to and including the Court of Appeal. However, my underlying philosophy is to attempt to find “interest based” solutions and assist my clients in the least intrusive way and as economically as possible.
My Relationship with My Clients
I pride myself on developing and maintaining close professional relationships with my client base, some of whom I have actively represented since coming to the area in 1971.
I am an empathetic listener, who will always first try to negotiate a fair and equitable resolution of whatever issue needs to be addressed on a client’s behalf. I try to look for win/win scenarios, which hopefully will leave everyone satisfied with the result achieved.
While I aim to resolve matters as promptly as possible, in some unfortunate circumstances where a matter cannot be resolved through reasonable negotiation, I will not hesitate to aggressively litigate on your behalf.
I try to keep in close contact with my clients. I realize the importance of returning phone calls and emails and try to do so within 24 hours. I also promptly forward all letters and documents to my clients so they have a complete record of the legal work done on their behalf.
I have been involved in the community on various boards and committees, including but not limited to Family and Children’s Services, Brock University, the local museums and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Heritage Committee (Chair).
I have also been very involved in the advancement of the Ontario wine industry and have been involved with the VQA from its inception, initially as counsel and subsequently as a board member and, most recently, as its Chair and President. I am also current Chair of the Niagara Regional Waste Management Committee.
I have been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Niagara Wine Industry and have been inducted into the Brock University Athletic Hall of Fame (I like sports). I am a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Ontario Bar Association, the Lincoln County Law Association, and the Niagara Collaborative Law Association.