Our Story... Your MDW Law Team

Thursday, September 1st, 2016
Posted in: Family Law Personal Injury Lawyers Wills & Estates Mediation by Tara Miller, Partner: Personal Injury Lawyer

The foundations of MDW Law in Halifax were laid in 2008.  Mary Jane McGinty, a well-known family lawyer and litigator about to open her own firm called McGinty Law, was looking for an associate to join her. Christine Doucet was working as a legal recruiter, having returned home to Nova Scotia after articling and practicing litigation at large firms in Toronto and Vancouver. Mary Jane reached out to Christine to help in her search. Christine was beginning to feel the pull back to legal practice. Impressed with Mary Jane’s experience and philosophy, she boldly asked Mary Jane whether she would consider her as the new associate.

The rest, as they say, is history. In March of 2008, both lawyers took a leap of faith and began working together in a humble office in the Park Lane mall in downtown Halifax. Over the next four years, McGinty Law added several associates practicing in the area of family law and continued to build its reputation for excellent client service.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the harbour, Christine’s long-time friend Angela Walker was developing her own thriving family law practice. Kentville-native Angela and Pictou-native Christine had met as teenagers during a week-long session at the Terry Fox Youth Centre in Ottawa. They had stayed in touch through letters and occasional visits for a few years, but lost touch during their undergraduate degrees. In an extremely small world story, they reconnected in Vancouver in 2001 when Christine was articling in Toronto and Angela in Vancouver. Angela was hosting a house party for her bar admission course. When a fellow student asked if he could bring his girlfriend who was visiting from Toronto for the weekend, Angela readily agreed. That boyfriend told Christine she simply had to meet Angela, raving “She’s from Nova Scotia and she reminds me of you!” Imagine their surprise when they reconnected.

In the years that followed, when Christine and Angela practiced law in Vancouver and then in Halifax/Dartmouth, they would discuss the possibility of one day working together. That finally transpired in January of 2012 when Angela joined McGinty Law. The practice was thriving and needed another experienced family lawyer, especially because Christine was about to go on maternity leave.

In the fall of 2012, McGinty Law became known as McGinty Doucet Walker. In January of 2013, Christine and Angela purchased the firm from Mary Jane, who remained with the firm as counsel.

By this time, the humble office on level M3 of Park Lane had become much too small. The server room, turned lunch room, had become a lawyer office. The boardroom had become two lawyer offices. Christine and Angela sourced out a new location on the third floor of Park Lane Terraces, about triple in size. They worked with a designer and contractor to build a welcoming, calming environment for clients and an efficient, productive work area for their staff and lawyers. It was important the office include social spaces for their tight-knit and valued staff – a large kitchen and TV lounge area as well as a fully-furnished summer terrace. The firm has three boardrooms, The Dog House, MJM Grand and The Beacon, which got their unique names from a hard-fought contest amongst staff and lawyers.

The firm moved into its beautiful new offices in November 2014. The new space had room for growth, including an empty corner office. Little did Christine and Angela know that the corner office would eventually be the powerhouse of the firm’s personal injury practice group…

While these transitions were happening, Tara Miller was working as an insurance defence litigation lawyer with a national insurance company, after having started her legal career with a large Atlantic law firm. She had met Angela and Christine when the insurance company office was located in Park Lane, and had gotten to know Angela further while co-chairing the Women’s Forum of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. Her positive impressions of the two young women grew as they continued to make a name for themselves and expand the firm.

Feeling the need for change, as well as wanting more autonomy in her practice along with an entrepreneurial spirit, Tara approached Christine and Angela in the winter of 2015. She had been drawn to personal injury following the involvement of a close family member in a significant accident and seeing the relief her legal guidance provided to family members when dealing with the aftermath of that accident. She shared her vision of a top-shelf personal injury practice focused on client service, and her desire to join Angela and Christine as a partner in building a unique client-focused firm. Angela and Christine were intrigued given the shared values and goals among all three.  After a few weeks of consideration and negotiation (across the miles to South Africa where Angela was adopting her son) a deal was done. In May of 2015, Tara joined the partnership to lead a personal injury practice and the firm changed its name to MDW Law. The “M” reflects the firm’s roots with Mary Jane McGinty as well as its new partner Tara Miller.

Christine, Angela and Tara have brought to MDW Law their significant legal experience including practice in large firms, making the organization and service delivery second to none. But they also know that the foundation of the firm was laid one client at a time. The future of the firm depends on the service and respect given to each and every client, big or small, one at a time. MDW Law is a Halifax firm where excellence in the practice of law is expected and delivered and clients, staff and lawyers are treated with equal respect.

MDW Law is strengthened by the presence of experienced family lawyer Kay Rhodenizer, who joined the firm as counsel in 2014, as well as its talented and dedicated associates, Laura Kanaan, Bernie Thibault and Anne McFarlane. In 2016, the firm hired its first articling student, Ashley Donald. In addition to the human faces of the office, there are several furry faces that often make an appearance, offering informal “therapy-dog” services to anyone who wants them.

Throughout the exciting growth and change, MDW Law has shown a constant dedication to excellence in client service. Its goal is for clients to feel, from the moment they walk through the door, that they are in good hands helping them navigate their legal life events.

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