After being courtroom competitors for more than 30 years, labour and employment lawyers Howard Levitt and Brian Grosman have joined forces to form Levitt & Grosman LLP in Toronto and suburban Richmond Hill.
“Howard and I have gone toe-to-toe on some fairly major litigation,” says Grosman who was semi-retired from Grosman Grosman & Gale LLP and had entered into a non-compete with his former firm, which expired Dec. 31 2013.
“I had been talking to my firm for some time about me working a little less and the firm and I came to a mutual agreement that I would allow my name to continue with the firm and if there was any business developed in the GTA that I could act on it but only through the firm and not my own name. So over the last couple of years I continued with with corporate and plaintiff work through the firm in the GTA,” he says.
Grosman, who lives in Sterling, Ont., about 200 kilometres east of Toronto, has also had a small practice in the Belleville and Sterling area, but was determined to come back to Toronto in 2014. He says he’s returning “with all flags flying.”
“It was good to have the time off but I’m an energetic guy. I don’t like ice fishing that much or hunting and so I thought I would come back to Toronto and find some office space,” he says.
“Since I’ve known Howard for many years, he was one of the people I called looking for space to set up practice and it was he who suggested we could be a dynamic duo. He felt I brought a different dimension to the practice because of my academic and government background. He thought it would be putting together the best of both worlds.”
Levitt and Grosman are both authors of employment law texts and both have successfully argued significant cases across Canada at every judicial level, including the Supreme Court Of Canada.
“When you get a chance to work with the other senior person in the country in the field you jump at it,” says Levitt. “He’s a very different style than I am and clients want both for different types of cases. It just seemed like an incredible opportunity to attract a lot of new corporate clients.”
Grosman says he will continue to do high-end executive employment on the plaintiff side and major corporate work such as reorganizations and mergers.
“My area of expertise has really been the executive employment area representing clients such as Shell Oil, CIBC, and Suncor,” he says. “I’m hoping with the way we’re coming together that we will offer corporate clients the kind of depth in this employment area maybe their general counsel can’t provide.”
Grosman says he enjoys going to court and looks forward to going back into court but admits he and Levitt have different styles.
“Someone told me the other day it’s like the iron fist and the velvet glove coming together,” he says. “It’s two very different styles we’re combining.”
When asked how he views the competitiveness of the employment law landscape in the country right now Levitt says: “It sounds arrogant but I don’t have any competition. I really don’t. If someone wants aggressive representation from someone who is very knowledgeable and wins all their cases, they go to me.”
He says he was interested in working with Grosman because he was a “gentleman and early leader in the field.”
“I’ve known Brian for decades, and I’ve always been impressed with both his acumen and his professionalism, even when he was my direct competitor. Because we are such very different people, our emerging partnership may surprise some, but I believe that our contrasting approaches and methodologies give our clients great value, providing them supplementary, valuable options in their tactical determinations,” says Levitt.
Levitt says he may be looking to expand the firm further but it all depends on finding “A-quality players.”