Obiter | A Podcast from McKenzie Lake Lawyers

Episode 3 - From the Big Apple to the Forest City. A Candid Conversation with Louis DelSignore

March 02, 2021 McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP Episode 3
Obiter | A Podcast from McKenzie Lake Lawyers
Episode 3 - From the Big Apple to the Forest City. A Candid Conversation with Louis DelSignore
Show Notes Transcript

Join hosts Melissa Won and Patrick Clancy as they sit down with Personal Injury lawyer Louis DelSignore to talk big career moves and being true to yourself in the practice of law. 

Louis is a plaintiff personal injury lawyer at McKenzie Lake, he has a steadfast commitment to the wellbeing of his clients, ensuring that they feel supported, understood, and well represented.  In addition to personal injury law, Louis practices Equine Law. Ten years ago, Louis made the big jump from his home in New York City to London, Ontario. He discusses this transition and how he brings a little slice of the Big Apple to his life in London. 

In his free time, Louis is an equestrian show jumper, skier, and cook. He believes that filling your life with things you enjoy and taking time for yourself so you don’t get lost in your practice is key.  

Throughout his fascinating career, Louis has come to understand the importance of mindfulness – to be aware of strengths and weaknesses not only in his clients’ cases, but also in himself. He is also dedicated to embracing his true self and sharing that with his clients and colleagues.  

To see more from Louis, visit our website or follow him on Instagram at @LouisLawjr 

Louis DelSignore:

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the obiter podcast. I'm Pat Clancy and I'm Melissa wine . And this is episode three of the lawyer series. In this series. We sit down with lawyers at McKenzie Lake to discuss their career personal life and anything in between all in an effort to introduce our listeners, to the human being behind the lawyer.

Patrick Clancy:

L ouis DelSignore i s a plaintiff personal injury lawyer at McKenzie Lake who represents seriously injured people in accidents.

Melissa Won:

Louis grew up in New York and started his career practicing in New York city before moving to London and continuing his practice here. Over the course of his career, Louis has carved out a reputation for being a zealous advocate for his client's rights while taking a gentle and empathetic approach to dealing with their needs.

Louis DelSignore:

Louis is involved in numerous charitable organizations and is regularly requested to speak and teach at both national and international personal injury conferences and presentations

Melissa Won:

In his free time, Louis is an equestrian show jumper of horses, a skier, and a cook. All of which we'll get into on this episode.

Louis DelSignore:

He also has a big social media presence, and you can follow him on Instagram at @LouisLawjr that's at Louis Law J R

Melissa Won:

Louis . Thanks so much for joining us today.

Louis DelSignore:

Appreciate being here and trying to find out a little bit more about me and what I do. So, yeah, I practice solely in personal injury, which is representing injured people and helping them receive just compensation for their , um, accident related injuries. That's a pretty broad spectrum of any type of injury from motor vehicle accident, claims to medical malpractice to significant trip and falls to assault cases to over-service at a bar or at a home. So sort of any type of injury you can really think of outside of workplace injuries.

Melissa Won:

Louis, what do you think is different or unique about your practice and the way that you interact with clients?

Louis DelSignore:

Well, we always try to empathize and be sympathetic with our clients whom at that moment, no matter when it may be, you know, are really struggling with an issue and they think that it's an emergency and they really need someone to talk to. I always tell my team and I refer to my staff as my team because , um, they are , uh , just as important as me in many of the moments of a file or helping our clients and whatnot. I always, I always tell my, my team that, you know, try to remember what this person is going through in this moment. They may be feeling a whole host of things and we are truly counselors in every sense of the word. So I'm not only their legal representative and many times I'm simply someone to talk to someone that can help guide them in some way, someone to try to motivate them, to get off the couch, to go to treatment that day, when they're feeling really blue about themselves, about their situation really upset. They didn't ask for this accident to happen to them. They didn't ask for this ATV to roll over on them. They didn't ask for , um, you know, someone to be negligent causing them harm and it can be very upsetting. So I think that's probably what sets us apart and what I try to remind my team all the time, because it is a challenging area of law. I think when clients meet with me they are refreshed a nd a bit surprised to some extent, I'm not that p icture of sort of that older gray haired lawyer that many people think represent the bar.

Patrick Clancy:

Louis, I mean this in like the nicest possible way, but I really think you are like the biggest approximation to a TV lawyer that I've ever seen. Like you talk about, you know, the old gray haired suits like you are, you really are like what you see sometimes in TV shows.

Louis DelSignore:

I appreciate that. I don't get to wear my, my fancy suits as much anymore outside of New York, but, u m, l aw is modernizing now. And I think t hat the face of who you hire and the face of what you think a lawyer is, has changed. You know, we represent people from all different walks of life. And again, o ur, our job is not to be commandeering or superior. I am not, u m, a lawyer here to boss them around and to make them do things they don't want to I'm on the same playing field as them. And I think that should represent that represents my team and how we act and how we look and how we portray ourselves as well.

Patrick Clancy:

Louis, if you have to play all these different roles in your job therapist , motivator, how far along in the file is it that you actually become Louis the lawyer?

Louis DelSignore:

Yeah, well, that's a really good question. And I think too , it , it depends on the person. You really have to understand that person and their personality, what they're expecting, what they need. Everyone's very different and you could have the most catastrophic, horrible accident ever and , um , that person may be the easiest client just because of their personality or what their needs are. You may have someone who's in an opposite situation who thinks that their matter is very significant and you have to shine some light on them and , uh , and explain how the system works. And, you know, a lot of people think it's the auto lotto we call it that, you know, they're in an accident, they're going to get some big bucks. And that's just really not the case at all in Ontario. So, but you know, people do hear these stories and they, they wonder, Oh, you know, this is how it is or I heard my brothers , cousins nephews, sister got this huge award and she, you know, just had back pain. Well, I guarantee you if she just had back pain , um, she didn't get a big award or there's other reasons behind that.

Patrick Clancy:

I know you started out practicing law in New York city. What are some of the differences between practicing law in New York city and practicing law in London, Ontario,

Louis DelSignore:

New, York's an amazing city. It's easy to get around. It's fun. There's always something to do. It's dynamic, you know, when you're practicing law there, it really keeps you on your toes because there's hundreds of people in line for your job. Right . Um, you know, it's such a dynamic, dynamic place there's, you know, ever so many people , um , when they graduate from law school, no matter what state they're in their dream is to go to New York city to practice law. So the epicenter of the U S for law for lawyers. Right, right, right. Um, you know, that may change that may , maybe has changed a little bit with like silicone Valley and things like that. If you're interested in, you know , that area of law, but certainly New York has that allure of, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Melissa Won:

How old were you when you came here? 10

Louis DelSignore:

Years ago? I've been here 10 years. Think 10 year anniversary. And are you still adjusting or, You know , that's a , that's a funny question Because London is so unique. Um , in that regard, when I first came, I really felt displaced. I think part of it was,

Patrick Clancy:

And sorry, just, you came right from new, you came straight from New York to London pretty much. Yeah . Yeah.

Louis DelSignore:

And , um , you know, it was this feeling of displacement for many reasons. Like when someone moves, you know, their, family's not there, you don't know as many people, you know, the, you start a new job. Things are just so different. Like I'm practicing law in another country now. Yeah . Um, so

Patrick Clancy:

You've probably never even heard of Canada before you move here.

Louis DelSignore:

No, I , I certainly heard of Canada. I don't know about London. Just kidding . But , uh, yeah, It's a big adjustment and I think that's really what it was more, you know, and a lot of things that, you know, you would enjoy doing, whether it be in New York, going to the theater or going to a piano bar or going to a nice dinner and , um, not really having a super lot of those options that you would have had before.

Melissa Won:

So you just go ahead and create them for yourself.

Louis DelSignore:

Well, yeah, I try to do that. And I think, I think there was, there was a ,

Melissa Won:

Did your pianist and your pianists get flown in from somewhere. She came from new Orleans

Louis DelSignore:

And she was quite famous down in new Orleans. Louis did a couple of little performances. Yeah . It was fun. It was very fun .

Melissa Won:

Well, and is great . Cause it felt like something different than is typically available in London, which is probably what you were, what you were aiming for.

Louis DelSignore:

Yeah. Yeah. It was sort of a combination of , um, combination of things from places that I love, like new Orleans, New York , um, you know, and other places that I've traveled, but very New York piano bar theme. My friend from new Orleans came up. She was the performer. I did a couple songs that recognized , um, my family that recognized my, recognize me being here in Canada and then recognized , uh , friends that were at the party and, and whatnot. So that was important to me.

Patrick Clancy:

So you faced a lot of challenges in your personal life. I understand. And one of them, I imagine may have been coming out as a gay person. Do you find that professionally , uh, both here and when you were in New York, did you face challenges being a gay person, practicing law?

Louis DelSignore:

Um, I guess I'll say that thankfully my challenges have been less than others. Um , maybe those who don't have the same voice that I do and, you know, can stand up for themselves a bit more, but I've certainly seen, you know, an impact , um, and on someone and how their life has been affected by that sort of discriminatory , um , attitude and, you know , prejudice towards people that are in the LGBTQ community. Um, you know, everyone's different and unique. Everyone identifies differently or how they feel that, you know, what their , um, what their sexuality means to them. You know, for me, I am who I am. So I don't really go on a lot about being gay. It's just, that's part of me. And part of you, I assume, as being straight or however you identify. So I never look at it as , as a badge or a label, but I remember, you know, sitting in constitutional law class when I was in school in New York and found it very troubling that you know, that I didn't have the same right to marry that the person did on the left or right of me. And so that really, really bothered me. And, you know, it's funny because, you know, otherwise I am a complete majority of white male, you know, I come from a well-to-do family, you know , um, but yet , uh, I am a minority because of my , um , sexual orientation, but you know, whether you're a gay professional or not, you know, how you practice, how you doctor, how you bank, whatever that you do is how you do it as a person who's highly trained and skilled in what they do. So, you know, for me, that's why the whole sexuality piece has always been on the back burner because I wanted to prove myself based on my skill set .

Melissa Won:

Do you feel that there are aspects that are misunderstood about you? In what way? Well, personally, professionally, just when people first meet you, do you feel misunderstood from time to time? Um, no .

Louis DelSignore:

So you think people get you right away? I did. Yeah, I did too. I think I'm pretty straight forward , uh, um, upfront, you know, it really bothers me when someone actually says to me after like, Oh, I didn't, you know, I didn't understand this, or couldn't tell me something because I find myself very approachable. So that would bother me if someone didn't feel that he could come talk to me. And, you know, I think it's always important for people to have some self check-in, to have insight, to try to understand not everyone's a alike , not everyone's the same people are in different positions. People have different power, people are in different , um, mindsets at time . So, you know, I think age and a little bit of wisdom, not much, but just, you know, growing through the process and representing so many different people has taught me to, you know, try to check in a little bit more. I try to be mindful, maybe not send that email as quick and response, but I am pretty passionate about what I do. And I want to say, and maybe that does tie in Pat a little bit to the challenges that I've had and that I faced through years of sticking up for myself and not being pushed back and making sure that I advance in an otherwise difficult places. So yeah, I'm trying to bite my tongue more or maybe not respond as quickly to some urgent issue or a misunderstanding or something that I want to go a certain way. But I do think it's super important to advance your cause. Now, perhaps, maybe that's why I'm good at what I do, because I believe , I believe in my client's case, I, I advance it fully. That's what it is. But, you know, I do understand strengths and weaknesses, not only in their case, but whatever mine may be. Right. And I think that's important to have insight, but, you know, I will be strong about something when I feel that is justified, but being a lawyer is tough. It's really hard. It's a demanding job, not only what we have to do in law , um, but are responding to our clients, responding to our financial obligations, our law firm obligations, our administrative obligations, our staffing obligations are, you know, if you're a litigator to knowing all the changes in the law all the time, knowing all the changes in the court system, which are crazy right now because of COVID, it is a very demanding job. So, you know, when you, when you get a thank you, it really means a lot. How do those difficulties compare with being a world-class equestrian. So what they're referring to is I show jump horses. Um, and , uh , that's the equestrian show jumping and I do. And , um, I actually had a close to like 16 year hiatus from riding. So I didn't ride except very minimal, like a friend would say, Oh, you know, come over and hop on my horse. And, and then I would be in pain the next day, because you know, riding is something that you honestly need to do all the time. For many reasons. One is, you know, you're using muscles that you never use otherwise, right . Just simply cannot train in the gym to ride a horse. There's no way to do it cardio. Yes. But the muscle you can, There's cardio associated with, for sure. Think about it. You're you go into a ring to jump a horse, you go from zero to whatever in seconds, right? So you're using your entire body, every aspect of your body, from your eyelids to your brain, most importantly, to your heel, to your inner thigh, to your core, everything possible to jump a horse around a course of jumps, which is not natural for a horse to do. And in the discipline that I do is that I have to make them look seemingly perfect over a very, you know, a decent size jump , um, eight of them, usually to 10 and do that numerous times a day and then, you know, the best wins. So it's, yeah , You have to absorb the unnaturalness of that motion in order to make the horse seem natural. It's a very, you know, it's a sport that doesn't get enough credit because when you look at it, like our job is to make it look easy. Like I love putting like a friend like you, And I'll tell you my horror story after. Yeah. I would love to take a friend like you, or like a friend that I had, who was like a football jock, you know, in college. Cause I wrote on the equestrian team at school and we were division one and we used to have these arguments. He's like, Oh, our practice is so much harder. And I'm like, dude, I'm like, Oh, my sport is a year round sport. We had to train year round there's is only in the fall. Right. A little bit in the summer. So I took them out to the barn ones and I said, okay, well, hold on. And he goes , I only in the hold on, like, it's fine. Like, you know, and so I'm like, okay, I know we're going to trot the horse. And he pretty much like he was very close to falling off and I grabbed him and we went like five feet, you know, because it's it, he didn't know how to respond to it. It's just, you know, a very different thing unless you're doing it and very hard. And again, using muscles that you've never used before. So it's very unexpected. And when you watch it, it looks easy, but that's our job. And you can tell like a more amateur or novice or beginner rider from someone who's more advanced because it just doesn't look as good. You know, it's like watching someone, who's a novice figure skater compared to a professional figure skater, you know, if you're that person isn't nailing the triple toe loop, then you know? Yeah . I went to horse camp for one week. I'll tell my story. No , no one asked for it, but I'll tell it this past summer. No , I was , I was 32 years old. I think I was probably like 10 and a friend of mine and his sister used to go and they , I got talked into going and I got on the horse. Horse's name was pokey and trotted around and pokey flipped me off. Literally flew off so far . Not so pokey never got back on the horse. Wow. Yeah. And would not, if I go down to like a couple, you know, go to Cuba or Dominican, you know, people go on like a horseback rider .

Melissa Won:

No , thanks. I'll be champion the pool. Yeah. I'll be in the pool. Not even the ocean. That's terrifying. Yeah.

Louis DelSignore:

That's funny. I , so I actually used

Melissa Won:

To horseback ride too at just a like very local Lake, just North of London. And my dad traveled a ton when I was young. So this was to be like our bonding experience. Once a week, he would come to horseback riding lessons with me. So I rode a horse named peanut and my dad rode a horse. He rode with me. We did, we did a semi-private lesson together every Thursday night. And my dad rode a horse named funny face called funny face. because Funny face had had a stroke.

Louis DelSignore:

Oh, okay .

Melissa Won:

Funny face had asthma. So one night, one night. Yeah. During our lessons .

Louis DelSignore:

No, I think he was , he was

Melissa Won:

He was a great, a great horseback in his day. And he was just like, he was well-suited apparently to like an older man trying to get into anyways. So, so Funny Face had an asthma attack and like bucked my dad off of him. And that was the end of, that was the end of lessons for both of us. Oh no .

Louis DelSignore:

There's therapeutic course too, right? Oh yeah. There are for sure. And the firm and myself support a therapeutic riding association here in London, which does remarkable things for people with disabilities and the , yeah. SARI is it. Ya SARI and the, you know, it's amazing what horses can do, but that's why I got back into riding. It was very therapeutic for me. I said to myself, and I just got back into it two years ago after this, you know, 16 year hiatus. And I said to myself, okay, I am exhausted. And all I'm doing is working, which is, you know, great to this point in my life. And I'm at where I want to be in my career. I was making a career move. I career change over to McKenzie Lake. And I said, I'm missing something in my life. What am I missing? And I said, I don't do anything for fun that I enjoy. That's meaningful. That's healthy. Um , that's a healthy habit, you know? And um, I love skiing. I'm a downhill skier, but there's no good skiing around here. And that's only a seasonal sport. And I said, I need something that I can have better balance in my life. So yeah, I think it's really important whether it's basket weaving that you like to do. Meditation. Something needs to be in your calendar every day. That's for you, at least in my profession. And what I do, I find that I need that now more than ever, because you're going to burn out. If you don't have that and you won't be able to be the best at what you can do unless you take care of yourself. So I could see how some people, their outlet is going to the beach and reading a book. Right. That's how they may relax. This is how I, I relax. Yeah. You mentioned skiing earlier. You're a big skier. If there's one mountain you could magically teleport to tomorrow, what would it be? And I'll let Melissa answer after cause I know she probably has . So I, I want to go to Val d'Isere in France. I haven't skied there yet. And I missed a ski trip there with my friends from New York because I was working and I couldn't get the time off. And they had the best time and skiing in Europe is pretty amazing. I've skied at a few places over there and I really, we were tentative planning to go this year. So Melissa,

Melissa Won:

I really want to go to Park City Park, City, Utah, I've , I've skied all over. I've skied all over Canada. I've skied all over the States have skied in Switzerland, but I really want to get to park city.

Louis DelSignore:

That is awesome. What's great about Utah skiing is that you have these 10 ranges or 10 different ski mountains. That's only 45 minutes from the airport. What's the best mountain to ski in New York state.

Melissa Won:

Uh,

Louis DelSignore:

So I grew up skiing at Gore mountain and Lake Placid and Whiteface, which is in Lake Placid and Gore mountain, which is in this little town outside of Lake George, both are owned by the state. They're state owned by New York. And they're terrific, amazing, great , um, steep terrain , uh, which is icy and cold many times. So you really learn how to ski, but what's amazing about it. There's so much, there's so much terrain there for the size of the mountain. And there's not that many people that would go there, especially Gore, cause it's sort of the middle of nowhere. And of course you have Vermont right next door, which is, I love her so close and beautiful. And for months sort of a weird state, that's like so different and it feels so different when you go there. That's cool.

Melissa Won:

Pat, where would you go? Do you ski Pat? I do. Yeah. Pat's a daring skier.

Louis DelSignore:

Hm . And put on the spot here. I wasn't, I was just thinking about asking that question. I'll just so the best place I've skied. I'll just say that , um, was Vail , Colorado. That was, I was young at the time. I was like, I was a teenager, but that was So we need to go back now a lot more fun as an adult. I think So vast. It was just a, such a massive mountain and everything about it was perfect. And I remember we did Aspen as well when we were there, but I didn't love it as much. Um, did you ski Snowmass there? I can't remember Buttermilk, maybe Buttermilk. I can't remember. I feel like we did too, but I remember it was still cool and I had a great time and Aspen, but I wasn't as impressed. I remember just being like Vail is just the shit. Yeah . Like that. So ,

Melissa Won:

So Louis, you've done a fantastic job, branding your practice. I mean, obviously you're a very important member of McKenzie Lake, but you've, you've created this own brand for yourself. Can you describe for us in your own words, what Louis law means?

Louis DelSignore:

Well, I was fortunate that it sort of goes well together, Louis and law. I mean, that's what I am. I'm a lawyer and I'm Louis. And so , uh , I think it's important that we not get lost or subsumed in the practice of law. And I think it's important to remember that lawyers are individuals and many times what we're selling is us. So someone's hiring me to help them and not necessarily a law firm. I work at a law firm, I'm a member of a law firm. Uh, and um , I participate in a law firm and it's very important to have that support from people in a law firm to go knock on my colleague's doors or to call them, say, I have a question. Can you help me with this? Here's this idea. But also I am different than my colleague next door. And I am who I am. So that what that's, what led to, you know, me trying to, I try to say to my clients or say to people in the community, say to people who are going to give me work, you know, who I am, what they're going to get with me. And I think that's, it sort of takes into consideration all things that I like, you know? And if you look at my Instagram, you know, that embodies, who am, you know, I like style. I like culture. I like interior design. I like I cook. Um , when I have the time and I enjoy that. And I like people like you coming to my home and enjoying my home. Not because it's a nice looking home, but because it's comfortable and you feel comfortable there. And I think that's an important part that shows my personality and who Louis law is. I think it's, it's really not a tool for people to, to hire me. It's more of a branding and, and an awareness of who I am. You know, most people when they're injured really are referred to me by, by someone.

Patrick Clancy:

So in reality, who would you say it's more for them ?

Louis DelSignore:

It's more for me. This is who I am. My, this is my life. Um, you know, I feel that we should show some of that to people. Yeah . Um, uh , I think that also it's been problematic for people who don't understand it. And some people who are older generation may judge that, or, you know, where does this fit in? Where does this fit fit in perhaps with the law firm ? Where does this fit in with other lawyers? Uh, so, you know, I think it's , it depends. And it depends on what, you know, you're looking to get out of it. For me, it was a , it's a branding thing and it's a voice for me outside of, you know, my office. Um, and there has been a change in law where it's not just this lawyer who sits at their desk all day long, 16 hours a day. Part of that, I always joke, maybe avoiding people at home. You know, I've met many lawyer who may not be happy at home and they want to be in the office and you know, that's their excuse for sitting there. Well, I have a lovely home. I'm happy at home and I'm not at home. I'm at the barn doing things I enjoy or seeing friends when I can.

Speaker 2:

Louis , thanks for sitting down with us today and talking to us. Thanks for having me.