Peter earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from St. Mike’s College at the University of Toronto but found that his philosophical training did not equip him to answer his father’s question: who is going to hire a philosopher? So he went to law school, also at U. of T. and graduated in 1990. After completing his articles, he was called to the Ontario bar and a few months later the New York bar, both in 1992.
Peter’s career started in civil litigation but he soon switched it over to Canadian and U.S. immigration law. He saw first hand the unique strains that moving to a new country puts on families, in addition to all the ordinary stresses of family life. No matter how well people prepare for international moves, they are met with major surprises, and often major disappointments, with life in their new country. Inevitably, that leads to some marriage breakdowns. When he later began to practise family law, at least half of Peter’s clients were new Canadians.
Feeling the itch to change up his career, Peter went to York University to earn a Bachelor of Education degree in 2004. Some fourteen of his relatives are or have been teachers and he planned to be the fifteenth. They say that those who can’t do, teach, but in Peter’s case it turned out to be the opposite. It was harder to break into teaching than he expected and he returned to law practice. He got the change he wanted by switching fields of practice from immigration to family law. He has been delighted with the change and now has eight years of experience as a family law lawyer under his belt.
But Peter has seen too many clients get trapped in the emotionally and financially draining process of going to court. In one of his cases, he took over litigation that had been dragging on for seven years and pushed it on to a trial some three years later; the trial itself lasted for seventeen days. Needless to say, at the end of that ordeal all parties involved felt like they had lost.
There had to be a better way. Peter had been hearing about collaborative family practice for a few years but had been too caught up with his litigation caseload to take the plunge. The coronavirus changed all that. The courts shut down almost completely for three months while collaborative practice, resolving family law issues without court intervention, continued without a hitch. Peter took the required intensive collaborative law training course and became a newly minted collaborative lawyer in 2020.
Peter’s office is located near Yorkdale Mall in Toronto at Dufferin Street and the 401 but he handles cases from Halton, Peel, York, Simcoe and Durham counties as well as Toronto. You are welcome to contact him for a free consultation or just to ask a few questions at:
Shawyer Family Law P.C.
3200 Dufferin Street
Toronto, ON M6A 3B2
Mobile: (416) 919-4252
Fax: (647) 933-2839
Peter is happy to provide collaborative family law services to clients of all backgrounds. He intends to focus particularly on the legal needs of newer Canadian families.