Before founding the injury law practice Bergeron Clifford LLP with partner Edward Bergeron, Chris Clifford worked on the defence side of the equation. “Injury cases need good representation on both sides,” Chris explains. “The system should be balanced. But it isn’t. Edward and I decided we wanted to correct an imbalance when we started this firm. Which is another way of saying that we wanted to look after people.”
Injury law is complicated work, but not only because both the law itself and insurance regulations are constantly changing. It’s the unique nature of each case and the difficulty of accessing the best possible care and resources that requires so much experience, expertise and stamina.
“The personal connection with people is the most rewarding part of each day,” Chris says. “Working on their behalf within an imperfect system can be frustrating for everyone, however. It’s not just dealing with a claim against an at-fault party and an insurance company. It’s accessing benefits and every resource available to maximise recovery. In the meantime, people’s lives have been turned upside down. It’s a difficult time for them and a complex situation with a lot of moving parts. Our role is to move people along the journey to better health, only one part of which is the actual legal claim.”
Chris is committed to improving access to financial and health resources for those with a spinal cord and other injuries. The firm lobbies for change through its involvement in the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. It answers questions and provides advice for groups engaged in advocacy projects who need a legal opinion. It hosts fundraising events and sponsors teams like sledge hockey. And it partners with organizations like Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
Recently, Chris accepted the 2018 Award of Appreciation from Spinal Cord Injury Ontario on behalf of Bergeron Clifford for sponsoring events in the Kingston community throughout the year. Asked about the firm’s philanthropic side, Chris offered a simple response: “If there’s a need and we have the resources, we get involved.”
There is a need. Which is why the firm’s reach extends well beyond its clients to individuals in the community and to community organizations that rely on partnerships.
“We’re paddling in the same direction as Spinal Cord Injury Ontario,” he says. “We share the same goals – to help people with a spinal cord injury live full lives and have access to the best services and supports. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is a tremendous resource for our clients and for so many others. They’re great people doing great things. We’re huge fans.”
Chris estimates that his firm represents about half a dozen clients with a spinal cord injury in any given year. In each case, as in all the others they take on, the emphasis remains on looking after people.
“We get involved to ensure fair and reasonable representation on both sides,” says Chris. “We do what we can to access the best health care and financial resources on behalf of our clients. It’s only fair and right.”