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Mark Frederick Stewart B.A., B.ED., LL.B.
Mark was born and raised in St. Davids, Ontario in the heart of the Niagara Region. He received his Honours B.A. (1978) and his B.Ed. (1979) degrees from the University of Toronto. Mark graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1982 with his LL.B., being awarded the "Blakes Prize" for the highest standing in corporate/commercial law. He articled at one of Canada's preeminent national law firms on Bay Street, and after completing the Bar exams, he was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada in the spring of 1984.

Bay Street to King Street
After his call to the Bar, Mark joined Blakes in Toronto as an associate where he gained invaluable experience in its corporate/commercial law department learning from Canada's finest business lawyers. When Mark and his spouse Brenda, a special needs educator, had their first of five children, he decided to leave Bay Street and return home to enjoy the quality and balance of life offered in the Niagara Region. He joined the partnership of Bench, Keogh, one of St. Catharines venerable law firms.

Practice Restricted to Business Law
Mark's practice is restricted to business law as well as commercial and residential real estate. He has advised all types and nature of businesses, both in and out of the Niagara Region, from sole proprietorships, partnerships to both profit and not for profit companies. Mark has advised clients on all aspects of their business law needs, developing expertise in related areas of law, including estate planning, wills and powers of attorney.

Reasonable Legal Costs
Mark understands the need for clients to control their legal costs. He provides professional and experienced legal advice at reasonable prices. His hourly rates and block fees, as a senior business lawyer, are extremely competitive and he encourages all new clients to canvass the rates of his peers at other firms in and out of the Niagara Region. Mark discusses openly and frankly the costs likely to be incurred on a matter, and recommends ways to keep legal costs affordable and economical to the extent possible.

Practice Philosophy
Mark is a strong advocate of practicing "Preventative Law" where business plans and legal strategies complement each other. He emphasizes a proactive approach where preemptive legal advice is offered at the early stage so that potential or future problems can be avoided or mitigated. This is very different from the more common reactive approach where legal advice is given at a late stage to deal with a problem that could have been avoided. Mark's "Preventative Law" approach significantly reduces legal costs for a business.

His Role
Mark's role as a business lawyer is to facilitate a transaction and to help clients achieve their goals and objectives. He firmly believes that business lawyers must appreciate that while Law is the science of minimizing risk, Business is the art of taking calculated risks. The two objectives are not mutually exclusive. Recognizing the need for clients to balance calculated business risks while trying to minimize legal risks is the hallmark of an experienced business lawyer. When it comes to understanding business law as it relates to the business of clients, not all lawyers are created equal. The first mistake an owner often makes when setting up a business is to seek the advice of a general practitioner who dabbles in business law. Mark does not dabble in business law. It has been his primary area of practice for 30 years.

Commitment to Community
Mark has been deeply involved in the community over the past 30 years. A few of his many past and current community activities include: sitting on various profit and not for profit boards and committees; a coach and trainer in minor hockey and soccer; serving on his Church committees; a weekly kindergarten teacher's assistant throughout all his childrens' elementary school years; a special lecturer at the Business Law Program at Niagara College; past director and President of a local political riding association; a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Ontario Bar Association and the Lincoln County Law Association. Mark is also a Marriage Commissioner authorized to officiate marriages in the Province of Ontario.

Successful Business Owner
Mark has owned and successfully operated his own businesses knowing the risks and challenges as well as the benefits and rewards of ownership. Among other businesses, he has been the co-owner and President of a successful local business overseeing 110 employees. He has also been involved in startup businesses and as an inventor holds four international patents. Mark brings to all his valued clients a unique blend of legal expertise and a "hands on" knowledge and appreciation of practical business realities. This practical business experience makes him a skilled and effective negotiator.

Farmer Friendly
Mark was raised in a farming community and has many farmers as clients and friends. He owns and operates Seven Oaks Farms and is a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. His farm also generates annually 30KW of solar energy as part of his "green" contribution to his community. He understands the legal and business challenges faced by his fellow farmers and finds his relationship with them, as well as all other clients, deeply satisfying and personally rewarding.

Building Strong Relationships
He takes pride in nurturing and maintaining strong and meaningful business relationships with his wide client base. While negotiating resolutions on clients' behalves, Mark recommends taking firm but fair positions. However, when his clients are not being dealt with fairly and cooperation is not reciprocated, the opposing party discovers that Mark is a formidable advocate. As always, Mark welcomes new clients and looks forward to forging strong and lasting relationships with them.

"Law is the science of minimizing risks while Business is the art of taking calculated risks. An experienced business lawyer knows that the two are not mutually exclusive and works with a client to strike the proper balance."