Meet the big-deal litigator who carves out time for family and connecting with his roots:
Partner, Bennett Jones LLP
Called to the bar in 2007
Law school: University of Calgary
Former elite decathlete and, by his own admission, a “jock.” Co-founder of the Ukrainian Canadian Bar Association. Awesome commercial litigator at Bennett Jones. Ten or so associates under his wing at any given time. So he’s a Harvey Specter-esque hotshot with a metric ton of swagger, right? Nope. Despite every reason to be cocky as hell, Jason Woycheshyn, 37, is a mildly spoken Albertanmensch.
Woycheshyn grew up in Vegreville, Alberta, a proudly Ukrainian-Canadian town (he’s fifth-generation on both sides), and speaks fluent Ukrainian. This connection to his heritage compelled him to spend part of May 2014 in Ukraine as a volunteer international election observer. “This was a legitimate grassroots revolution,” Woycheshyn says of the movement that saw Petro Poroshenko voted into power.
His wife Melanie and their two small children (a third was born in May) stayed home while he made the journey. “Being a father, I knew I had to contribute and preserve the Ukrainian identity.” By the time he travelled home to Oakville, “I felt an obligation to help preserve the culture here in Canada,” he says, in his quiet way. That was the catalyst to spearhead the Ukrainian Canadian Bar Association in October, now 200 members strong.
At work, he’s an innovator in alternate fee arrangements (AFAs). “Jason is a great lawyer, and a great partner in rethinking the way we approach litigation,” says Adrian Lang, associate general counsel at BMO Financial Group, with whom Woycheshyn negotiated an AFA for small claims. “Jason provides us with great service, at a low cost, with effective results.”
“The billable hour isn’t going to disappear anytime soon,” Woycheshyn says. “But AFAs force you to work with the client. It’s risk-sharing. Historically, there has been almost no risk to the lawyer.”
His greatest professional pride is mentoring the associates and students he oversees, helping with not just legal but work-life balance issues and career guidance. There’s no one single file he’s most proud of. “It’s helping young lawyers develop,” he says. “This profession is one of mentorship. Clients come and go.”