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Why Legal Research is Crucial For Toronto Lawsuit Actions

Devising a legal strategy for civil litigation is like mapping out a war plan.  From the outset, you have to consider whether you’ve got the budget, time, and resources to launch (or defend against) a legal action; whether you can maintain a fruitful and productive relationship with your lawyer (your appointed general); and, most significantly, whether your evidence (the weaponry) you're hoping to bring to court (the battlefield) will truly find its support in the law (the physical logistics of battle).

You need to have a clear view of the legal terrain before you begin, considering beforehand your odds for success or failure in court. That's where effective legal research comes in. 

As a professional legal researcher based out of Toronto and the surrounding GTA (Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Markham, Etobicoke), my litigation support services have often been called upon by lawyers to "war-game" complicated legal issues long after the grinding wheels of the trial process have been set on their course. In many cases, these issues could not have been anticipated beforehand, particularly in cases where a lawyer or legal client has yet to be served with the arguments and evidence coming from the other side. 

And yet, from my perspective as both a legal researcher and lawyer, I know the value in "war-gaming" early on the kinds of potential legal arguments that are likely to be fielded by your legal opponent, as you weigh the worst case scenarios against the evidence you already have in hand. 

Before you begin pursuing or defending against a civil lawsuit, it is absolutely crucial to consider whether your particular legal situation turns on case law.  In other words, is there a legal precedent out there that has already dealt with facts similar to your unique situation?  If so, are you able to apply this judgment in a manner that most clearly supports your side - or does the court judgment more clearly support your adversary's legal case? 

Is your legal issue governed by a consistent thread of case law that sets out a strong statement of legal principles (known as dicta)?  Do these legal cases enumerate the relevant factors to be considered in your kind of situation? If so, such cases will provide an indispensible guideline for evaluating your legal prospects for either success or failure. 

But, as often transpires in civil litigation cases, you might find yourself in uncharted legal territory, in which the outcome of your legal dispute may generally turn on the unique distinguishing facts of your case.  Should you find yourself unable to discover your fact situation and legal issue in the existing body of case law, legal precedent would likely be of little guidance to you..

But even identifying that aspect of the problem beforehand - before you've committed precious financial capital to the cause - will furnish you with the perspective in considering whether it would be worth the risk to pursue, or defend against, an expensive lawsuit when the legal outcome is not governed by a consistent body of case law and is, as a result, far less predictable.

In that case, you'd want to consider how far you're willing to go before calling it a day.  Evaluating whether or not the case law is capable of supporting your legal arguments will assist you in formulating the terms of your settlement offer, and to consider whether or not you might accept or reject an offer of settlement from your legal opponent.

In the Toronto court system, when a settlement is on offer, choosing the right course of action under the circumstances will help you to avoid the dire consequences that come with being saddled with your opponent's legal costs - a prospect that arises when you reject a settlement offer that was more generous than the final litigation outcome for your side. 

By “war-gaming” your legal strategy with exhaustive legal research from the outset, you should be able to avoid the potential legal minefields while anticipating the court arguments that lay before you, evaluating whether you're best armed to engage your adversary in the field of court, or whether it's just best to pack up the artillery and do battle another day,  in support of a legal cause more worthy of your time and financial sacrifice. 

James Cooper, LL.B., MFA is a Toronto lawyer who provides civil litigation support through legal research and drafting for lawyers, law firms, and members of the public throughout the GTA and the province of Ontario.  

He may be reached for a free initial phone consultation and quote at (905) 737-9994 or by email at

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