A Conversation with David Northcott About Family, Health, Work, and Finding the Right Priorities in Life

David Northcott was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. His family relocated from Toronto to the Georgian Bay area, Lake Huron, when he was a young boy. After completing high school, he attended Huron College, Western University, where he studied French and Business, completing his Bachelor of Arts degree and graduating in 1991. He took […]

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David Northcott was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. His family relocated from Toronto to the Georgian Bay area, Lake Huron, when he was a young boy. After completing high school, he attended Huron College, Western University, where he studied French and Business, completing his Bachelor of Arts degree and graduating in 1991. He took a year off and worked in Champéry, Switzerland, as a ski rep. It was a very exciting year, as the Winter Olympics were taking place not too far away, in Albertville, France. This experience in Switzerland started a love affair with Europe and the lifestyle that it offered.

After his year in Switzerland, Northcott attended Law school at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England, for a two-year programme in International Law. He graduated in 1994, then returned to Canada to complete his Canadian Law degree at University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick. He graduated in June, 1996, then articled for a full-service Law Firm. The next big milestone in his life was being called to the Bar in February, 1998. Northcott decided to practice as a Sole Practitioner. He relocated to his Georgian Bay origins, an area commonly referred to as a four-season playground, to open up his own Law Firm, Midland Ontario, is located on one of the largest fresh-water beaches in the world, summer offering golden sands, crystal clear waters, breath-taking sunsets and access to over 30,000 islands for boating. From late September to early October, Midland is adorned with colourful fall foliage, while winter offers great outdoor activities such as downhill skiing, one of Northcott’s passions. For all of the above reasons, and having grown up in cottage country on the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay, it was an easy decision for Northcott to return to Midland to practice Law. He has over 20 years of experience. His areas of practice include Real Estate, purchases and sales; Mortgage Transactions, such as private lending and refinancing; Mental Health Hearings, involving Hospital Tribunals and Review Boards; Provincial Offences and Criminal Law.

Why did you decide to create your own business?

Having worked at other Law Firms, while I was still a student, I saw the dissatisfaction colleagues had of other colleagues, who were not pulling their weight. I saw enough of that, that I felt it was important for me to start my own business. That is when my entrepreneurial drive started.

There was one Law Firm I worked for, where one of the main principles dumped a file on my lap at the last minute. It was just before the Christmas holidays. I had to finish the brief and then file it in the Federal Court. Back then, you had to drive to the Federal Court or hire a courier. I remember thinking, here I am about to start my Christmas holidays and instead, I am working around the clock to finish this brief, which had nothing to do with me. It was not my responsibility. It was just dumped on me. I had to drive all the way to Toronto to file it in the Federal Court. That was an “ah-ha” moment, when I realized I really needed to work for myself and start my own Firm. It was about six months later when I was called to the Bar, and not long after that, I left the Firm and did just that — started my own Firm!

What does a typical day consist of for you?

It varies from day to day. I could be in Court all day, dealing with Court files and case files and on another day, I could be attending a Tribunal for a Hearing. Other times, I might just be in the office meeting with clients, conducting client interviews, or doing Real Estate closings.

Before the pandemic, I would typically go to the gym every other day. I would often leave home around 5 or 6 in the morning, have a 90-minute workout, then shower and come home. I have a young son, who is two-and-a-half years old. He goes to daycare three days a week, so typically, I am home with him for about an hour before he goes to daycare, helping my wife get him ready. I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and family. This is what my typical day looks like.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Follow your passion and do one thing very, very well. In my particular case, it is obviously the Law. Also, find that balance between work, family and health. I think it is important to spend time with your family and not spend too much time burying yourself at work. That is the way to become a workaholic. Be there to spend time with your children, your spouse, and make it quality time together.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I feel my biggest accomplishment is completing my studies, being called to the Bar, then becoming a Lawyer, I spent seven years total in university, which was a lot of studying. I then spent another year of professional study, doing my Internship. That was quite a big milestone in my life, for sure. Becoming self-employed after that, in a short period of time, is a major accomplishment, of which I am very proud.

Whats one piece of advice you would give to others?

Prioritize what is most important to you in your life and your career. In my case, it is family, health and work and then maintain a healthy balance between them.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

I think it is very important to look out for number one, yourself. In doing so, you can take care of the other things that are important to you, such as your family, your health, your career.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

In my circumstances, I am not too interested in bringing in other Lawyers. In a small jurisdiction like mine, people tend to learn the ropes, leave, then end up being your competition. For me, I

have a young family and I have been practicing for some time now, but I am not chasing the almighty dollar. Maybe this is the case when you are younger, putting in longer hours and taking on whatever comes through the door. I am happy that I can really pick and choose the cases and files that I want to work on. I am starting to think about my retirement plan. I am still fairly young, but this is definitely on my mind over the next couple of years, – planning, saving and organizing my retirement.

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

The proudest day of my life is being called to the Bar as a professional. It was exhilarating for me, after all that hard work and studying!

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