What started out as a career in personal injury law is now just as focused on serving family law clients for Toronto lawyer Elinor Shinehoft.
Shinehoft, who established Shinehoft Law in 2013, has been continuing to grow her family law practice with a special interest in finding collaborative, out-of-court solutions for couples going through separation and divorce.
But with an extensive background in personal injury law spanning 15 years, she also represents injured plaintiffs, giving her an interesting mix of clients in her cozy, pet-friendly office.
“I really enjoy both areas of law because they’re so different,” says Shinehoft, who is originally from Montreal but moved to Toronto to attend the University of Toronto for her undergraduate and law degrees. “Family law cases can be very fact-specific and sometimes fast-paced and stressful, while personal injury cases can span several years. Those cases are also very interesting as they deal heavily with the medical field.”
After working at a few Toronto-area law firms, Shinehoft ended up at a personal injury firm in Hamilton. Eventually, she decided it was time to open her own practice.
“I wanted to have my own practice for the longest time,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com. “It was just a matter of taking that leap.”
Shinehoft says she loves the challenge of running her own firm as a sole practitioner, while choosing clients and staff she genuinely enjoys working with.
“At a larger firm, you’ve got the pressures of billing or taking whatever files the senior partners give you, but at my own practice, I have the option of doing things differently.”
Raised by parents originally from Romania, Shinehoft speaks Romanian fluently along with a little French and Hebrew, and she is looking forward to building her practice within the Romanian community. Potential clients have even driven from other southern Ontario cities just to meet her.
“I always explain to people that any legal documents have to be done in English, but sometimes it gives individuals a higher comfort level when they first meet somebody who speaks their language. I was surprised how far people will come.”
She also has a law clerk who speaks Spanish, allowing her office to serve a broader segment of Toronto’s multicultural community.
Shinehoft, who enjoys yoga, boxing and scuba diving in her spare time, makes an effort to ensure her clients feel comfortable and relaxed in her “warm, cozy” office, which is “pet-friendly” — as long as her clients don’t mind. Her rescue Shih Tzu, named Winston, often greets visitors and waits to be petted.
“I don’t like that cold and sterile feeling when you’re nervous,” she says. “You’re going to be stressed enough as it is. I like when people open up and relax — it just makes it better for everyone.”