09 Jul Hawryliw brings business background to commercial litigation
Barrie commercial litigation and employment lawyer Scott Hawryliw wants to do law differently.
Hawryliw founded SRH Litigation in 2018 after a number of years practising with a renowned local firm, with the aim of changing the public perception of law firms as traditional, stuffy institutions.
“There is a certain experience that most people expect from a law firm,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com. “But I’m trying to steer away from that by operating in a more modern way, and focusing on customer service and value.
“In addition to hourly rates, I also use fixed-fee and hybrid retainers as well as contingency agreements for certain types of files,” Hawryliw adds.
He also makes himself available to meet clients during evenings and weekends, according to their preferences, recognizing that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to be available for appointment times in the regular hours of 9-to-5.
“Many people are surprised that I will meet them outside of normal business hours, but they’re also very happy that it’s an option,” Hawryliw says.
He knows better than most what clients are looking for, having spent time in their shoes after he completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree, was awarded an MBA, and gained experience in business before being called to the bar.
“I know what issues concern them,“ Hawryliw says. “Many of the files I work on for corporate clients are at the intersection of legal and business issues, and I think being able to understand their operations helps me get to better solutions for their problems.”
After a number of years as an associate, he’s also relishing the opportunity to run his own business.
“It can be a scary thing to do, but I have zero regrets,” Hawryliw says. ”There’s more responsibility, but at the same time, you have more control over the shape and development of your practice.
“It’s been wonderful,” he adds.
Hawryliw, who was nominated for Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 influential young lawyers of 2018, says commercial clients often feel more comfortable working with a lawyer who speaks their language and encourages them to think of their case in terms of return on investment.
“There’s no point engaging in litigation to prove a point or because you think it’s something you have to do,” Hawryliw says.
And he says his clients appreciate the fact that his advice is always mindful of their ultimate goals.
“From the beginning of a file, it’s important to identify what their goals are in terms of outcome. Then we can talk about their legal options to try to get towards meeting those priorities,” Hawryliw says. “Instead of reciting what the law says, I look at a range of options and explain what kinds of results they might deliver from a business perspective.
“After that, we talk about what’s best for the client, and I’m happy to go with whichever option they prefer, whether that means commencing a lawsuit, vigorously defending one, or seeking to settle it with the lowest overall cost,” he adds.
A good deal of Hawryliw’s time is taken up with commercial litigation of various sorts, including breach of contract and commercial leasing issues.
“Many times people are in dispute with their clients or their partners,” he explains. “When you start a new business relationship, everyone is happy. Nobody is thinking about the worst-case scenario that might arise five or 10 years down the road.”
He also runs an employment law practice, serving both employers and employees.
“It’s still shocking to me how many people don’t have a written employment contract,” Hawryliw says. “It’s better for both employees and employers to have a clearly defined contract that spells out what happens in the event of a termination.”