“Thankfully, I have been chosen to be Jordan Scopa’s mentee – he’s my Articling Principal. So far, I’ve done a bit of litigation research for him and I’m sure I’ll be doing more as my time in litigation continues.
When people ask me what my Articling Principal is like, I say from day one we have hit it off. He has shown me that it is possible to do really great work while still having a good time. He has given me lots of knowledge and wisdom –both toward the practice of law and in life in general. High quality work while having fun—I’ve been really trying to put that that inspiration towards my first month here.
If you’re curious about litigation, or intellectual property litigation more specifically, Jordan’s insights below provide a sneak peek into the life of an IP litigation partner at Goodmans."
– Brendan, Articling Student 2017
Lawyer: Jordan Scopa
Practice Group: Litigation
Year of Call: 2010
Law School: University of Toronto
So, Jordan, what makes a great litigation lawyer?
First – passion. Second – creativity. Third – fearlessness. The main take away from the practice is that you have to not be afraid to make a creative argument, not afraid to make a challenging argument, and not afraid to push the boundaries of the existing law to advance an argument and position for your client. This, along with the usual intense focus, dedication and tirelessness is what I think makes a great litigator.
Why did you decide to practice in litigation?
I didn’t go to law school necessarily thinking I wanted to do litigation. But, I gravitated to the litigators and their attributes that I previously mentioned. I have never been shy about speaking up, or speaking in front of a crowd.
Within the litigation group, I work exclusively on intellectual property files. I have a bit of a science background and so I gravitated to intellectual property in school which lead me to start my practice at a boutique intellectual property firm. There, I had to decide whether to be a solicitor – applying for patents, applying for trademarks, or a litigator – on my feet, in court. I chose litigator.
As I gained more practice as a litigator, I started to enjoy the many other aspects of it – like being clear in your writing. There’s a real satisfaction in crafting a persuasive written argument.
What is a proud moment for you at Goodmans?
There are a few cases or moments that were special to me. I’ll share two.
First – in the last couple of years together, the IP litigators at Goodmans have moved the law of patent damages pretty significantly. Specifically, with respect to the non-infringing alternative defence. This defence had a lot of resistance at first. But now, it’s the law at the Federal Court of Appeal. It has expanded and developed in an even more principled way and to be a part of its growth is really rewarding. It was a creative new area and we knew in our hearts we were right. We just had to convince everyone else.
Second – I did a big cross examination of an expert witness. I knew that the expert had given a previous opinion that directly contradicted the fresh opinion that he was offering. In a bit of a Tom-Cruise-in-A Few Good Men-moment (which almost never actually happen), I got the witness to come forward and tell the truth and adopt his previous opinion.
A lot of work goes into those magical moments. You don’t do it on your own. You do it as a team, involving students. Actually, it was a summer student who found the prior sworn statements of that expert witness. Those statements culminated in that magical moment. That student is joining us as a litigation associate this fall.
What is your favourite aspect of the Student Program?
Giving the student the full picture of what it means to be a litigator by exposing them to as many aspects of the practice as possible. I love it when a student can see their work in action. For example, when a piece of their research is used in court and they are there to see how it all fits together.
What is the next step for you in your legal career?
Maybe I’m guilty of not looking too far ahead. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been given a lot of responsibility early on. Now, it’s about continuing to refine the craft in terms of managing files and being the most effective in cross-examination and advocating in court.
One area I’m getting involved in a little bit more is being a representative for the litigation group and Goodmans with the Federal Court. Goodmans represents clients on a lot of matters in the Federal Court and we are trying to help the Court to fashion practice guidelines and rules to make the litigation process more efficient for the litigants and the Court. I’d like to continue to develop this, which includes sitting on committees.
OK, now for a fun question: If not a lawyer, what would you be?
Race car driver. I’m very passionate about cars and motor racing – I have been my whole life. I’m a huge, huge, huge Formula One fan. I haven’t missed a race (at least on TV) since 1994. I remain convinced that Fernando Alonso will win his third world driver’s championship.
Brendan Dean is currently an Articling student in the Goodmans Litigation group. He went to law school at Queen's University. He thinks puns are the highest form of wisdom.