Justice above all else.
Advocacy with integrity.
Legal expertise with you in mind.
Ambrosini Law Professional Corporation (“Ambrosini Law”) is a law firm based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada specializing in mental health law. We offer professional legal services related to mental health issues as they arise across practice sectors, including health law, criminal law, and administrative law.
The firm’s legal services and advocacy are client-focused, cost-effective, and creative in finding practical solutions to real-world problems. Whatever your needs we promise to be a trusted legal adviser who will work collaboratively with you to achieve successful results, often in highly complex situations. We care about the vulnerable and advocate for the rights of those in need.
Daniel Lamberto Ambrosini
Dan has always been deeply passionate about helping his clients to find the most efficient solution to resolve disputes in a cost-effective and expeditious manner.
- Senior lawyer member of Consent and Capacity Board
- In-house legal counsel of Forensic Psychiatry Program of hospital, appearing in hundreds of forensic psychiatry cases before the Ontario Review Board
- Retained as expert in mental health cases involving capacity to consent and class action litigation
- Research Lawyer with Law Commission of Ontario contributing to recommendations and reports to government
- Articled with criminal defence firms writing to all levels of court, including Supreme Court of Canada
- Legal and scientific member of Canadian/U.S. Research Ethics Board
- Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McMaster University, teaching and supervising undergraduate and graduate students and psychiatry residents in forensic psychiatry and neurolaw
- University Lecturer in health law and ethics to MBA students, first-year medical students, social work students, and law students
- Research Fellow at Harvard Law School studying domestic and global trends in the legal profession and law firm management
- Doctoral research on the role of psychiatric advance directives in Canada and the role of autonomy for individuals with mental illness
- Co-Founding Editor-in-Chief, McGill Journal of Law and Health
- Authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and reports on mental health law topics
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Law School, 2013
PhD (Psychiatry), Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 2011
MSc (Psychiatry), Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 2007
LLB/BCL (Common and Civil Law), Faculty of Law, McGill University, 2007
BA (Psychology), Department of Psychology, McGill University, 2003
BA, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto (transferred to McGill)
Shawn seeks to use his medico-legal background to strongly advocate for clients and to ensure that those of minority status are treated with dignity and sensitivity.
- Represented clients before the Ontario Review Board and the Consent and Capacity Board
- Teaching Assistant in health law and ethics to MBA students
- Articled with Forensic Psychiatry Program of Ontario hospital
- Summer law experience with the Ministry of the Attorney General
- Previous caseworker and Board Member for the Community and Legal Aid Services Programme (CLASP) at Osgoode Hall Law School
Doctor of Medicine, McMaster University, 2018
Juris Doctor, Osgoode Hall Law School, 2015
Master of Arts (Socio-Legal Studies), York University, 2012
Bachelor of Arts (Criminology), York University, 2011
Access to justice is one of the central justice issues for individuals with mental illness, who often appear before administrative tribunals seeking fair treatment and just results at a reasonable cost. Self-represented litigants often choose to represent themselves before administrative bodies when the procedures and rules are simple; however, many find it helpful to have legal representation in more complex matters.
Administrative law is that area of public law dealing with the relationship between how governments and governmental agencies engage in actions and operations when dealing with its citizens. Appointed decision-makers (sometimes referred to as “adjudicators”) sit on these tribunals, boards, commissions, or agencies, which are less formal than a court but operate like a court in deciding disputes. Those deciding your case must ensure that you are dealt with in a procedurally fair manner and that any evidence, whether written or oral, is relevant, reliable, necessary, and fair.
Here are some examples of provincial and federal administrative tribunals where it is not uncommon for individuals with mental health to raise concerns.
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Consent and Capacity Board
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
Health Professions Appeal and Review Board
Health Services Appeal and Review Board
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
Immigration and Refugee Board
Licence Appeal Tribunal
Ontario Review Board
Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board
Social Benefits Tribunal
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
ARBITRATION, MEDIATION & ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
There are several methods to resolve disputes outside of litigation, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Emotional and psychological stressors can have powerful effects on the outcome of such disputes. With expertise in psychiatry, psychology, and law, we help clients to bridge disputes and differences through arbitration and mediation services.
Arbitration is a process where an arbitrator, sometimes multiple arbitrators, will make a final decision to resolve a dispute. An arbitrator is like an umpire who makes a binding or non-binding and voluntary or mandatory decision. Before entering arbitration, parties complete an arbitration agreement where they agree to the procedures. An arbitration award is legally binding and can be enforceable by a court. One of the main advantages of choosing arbitration is that the costs are typically substantially lower than court.
Mediation involves a third-party acting as a facilitator to help parties reach their own agreement. Mediation is informal and confidential, which allows parties to speak more openly than if in court. The mediator attempts to bring parties to agreement in a neutral and safe environment. In Ontario, certain types of cases proceed through a Mandatory Mediation Program early on to explore settlement options and avoid expenses associated with pretrial and trial processes. Because mental health issues arise so frequently in the areas of estates, trusts, and substitute decision-making, we offer mediation services to help parties work towards consensus on such issues.
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND APPELLATE ADVOCACY
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom (“Charter”) and Constitution Act provide that governments must respect the fundamental freedoms and rights of all Canadians. Over the years, individuals with mental illness have fought to have their fundamental freedoms respected, including freedom of thought and belief; the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment; the right to life, liberty, and security of the person; and having equality rights respected before and under the law.
At Ambrosini Law we handle constitutional litigation and appellate advocacy, including mental health, disability, and medical law matters. Some of the types of appellate matters we assist with include:
- Mental disability rights
- Criminal law defences involving psychiatric disorders
- Addictions and states of mind
- Right to refuse treatment or right to treatment and other medical law cases
The rising number of mental health issues among inmates in correctional institutions, whether provincial jails or federal prisons, has been a growing concern for courts, legislators, and administrators. Mental health issues are four to seven times more common in prison than in the community and are often left undertreated or untreated. As a result, class action lawsuits and human rights complaints have led to the need for greater policy and legislative changes to reform systemic problems involving mental health issues in correctional facilities. We can assist with the following matters:
- Day and Full Parole
- Disciplinary Charges
- Habeas corpus applications
- Involuntary Segregation
- Involuntary Transfers
- Parole hearings before the Ontario Parole Board or Federal Parole Board of Canada
- Penitentiary discipline hearings
- Parole by Exception
- Statutory Releases
- Temporary Absence Permits
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, received a regulatory infraction, or have been called before a disciplinary body, we will fearlessly defend your rights. We will examine closely the criminal charges against you; help you to make the best procedural decisions; attend bail hearings, preliminary inquiries, and trial on your behalf; discuss sentencing options if found guilty; and evaluate potential routes of appeal.
Ambrosini Law has particular experience working with criminal matters involving forensic psychiatric assessments. Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with those complex cases involving assessments of Fitness to Stand Trial (“FST”) or when someone has been found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (“NCRMD”). If you experienced a mental disorder at the time of a criminal offence, the process can be challenging and confusing; we will help you navigate the forensic system.
We represent clients at various stages of criminal proceedings, including in quasi-criminal cases before the Ontario Review Board. Where appropriate, we assist with mental health diversion strategies early in the process by diverting offenders involved in minor offences outside of the criminal justice system.
Elder law is that area serving the needs of older adults and their families. For many years the abuse, neglect, and discrimination of older adults was largely overlooked. Ageism and discrimination have also been rampant. Elder abuse can involve criminal offences, family or domestic violence, financial exploitation, or other forms of mistreatment by non-family members.
Such forms of mistreatment towards an aging population can often occur where such individuals do not have the full mental capacity due to cognitive impairment, dementia, or other disabilities commonly associated with aging. As such, this makes it challenging to identify with certainty when such rights are being overridden. Some of the areas where issues can arise include:
- Consumer protection
- Diminished capacity, decision-making, or power of attorneys
- Elder abuse and age discrimination
- Estate planning
- Financial exploitation (through large gifts or transfers)
- Government benefits (pensions and income)
- Guardianship applications
- Health care issues
- Long-term care facilities (assisted living or nursing homes)
- Proxy or surrogate consent in geriatric neuropsychiatric cases
- Sexual consent
- Undue influence or duress
ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Ambrosini Law assists various groups of professionals from across sectors in Ontario who may be called before their college, tribunal, or board for a disciplinary hearing or alleged infraction of their Code of Conduct, ethical rules, or regulations. Professional lapses can occur for many reasons, including that someone may have suffered from mental disorder, psychological stressors, medical issues, or other extenuating circumstances at the time.
If you are a professional from a regulated group and have been called to appear before your disciplinary college, tribunal, or board, contact us for a free consultation.
If you are a lawyer or paralegal and have been called to appear before the Law Society Tribunal, we may be able to assist you. These types of disciplinary hearings could include issues of capacity, competence, conduct, licensing, non-compliance, reinstatement, restoration, or other disputes.
Health law is that branch dealing with the provision of legal advice and service in respect of health care, which is rapidly evolving in Ontario and several jurisdictions. We have had extensive experience working on several leading issues in health law. Below are some of the areas we may be able to assist you with:
- Access to health care
- Advisory opinions
- Bioethical issues
- College complaints and disciplinary proceedings for healthcare professionals
- Coroner’s inquests
- End-of-life matters including medical assistance in dying (“MAID”)
- Health care disputes
- Health product liability issues
- Health Professional Appeal and Review Board/Health Services Appeal and Review Board
- Health sector governance, including health care facilities law
- Hospital appointments and privileges
- Insurance for health professionals and institutions
- Licensing and regulation within the health sector
- Medical devices
- Medical malpractice and institutional liability
- Mental health law
- Patient care
- Patient disclosure/duty to warn
- Privacy, confidentiality, and regulation of health information
- Public health, including emergency preparedness, communicable disease reporting obligations, quarantine (e.g. COVID-19)
- Public policy issues (advising on legislative reform)
- Reproductive health
- Research ethics and bio-pharmaceutical law, including conduct of clinical trials
- Risk management
- Tissue/organ donation
Daniel Ambrosini has been actively involved in the field of health law for more than fifteen years representing clients, teaching academic courses, presenting at international conferences, and publishing articles.
Higher Education Law
Legal issues facing students, employees, and faculty members at colleges and universities have become more complex than ever before. Many students transitioning from high school to university life are faced with new stressors that can lead to psychological distress. Students are occasionally faced with disciplinary hearings due to misconduct or academic appeals by a university’s Governing Council. Other situations where students have found it helpful to have legal representation include:
- Academic disciplinary hearings
- Academic freedom
- Discrimination (gender, sexual)
- Faculty contracts and tenure
- Free speech and electronic communication
- Racial integration and diversity
- Religious freedoms
- Sexual discrimination
- Student fees and tuition
- Student rights and safety
- Student speech, expression, and association
Situations can also arise where employees, faculty, or administrators in workplace performance require additional accommodation, particularly in the context of mental health disabilities.
Daniel Ambrosini is deeply familiar with the higher education sector in Canada and the U.S. as a student, researcher, post-doctoral fellow, and faculty member. Contact Ambrosini Law to see how we can assist in navigating rules, regulations, and policies among higher education institutions.
Human Rights Law
There is a long history of protecting human rights in Canada, with one of the major milestones being the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights are something you did not earn; they have been a part of you since you were born.
In Ontario, certain human rights claims are brought to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”). The HRTO hears claims of discrimination and harassment under the Human Rights Code (“Code”) in five areas: (i) accommodation (housing); (ii) contracts; (iii) employment; (iv) goods, services, and facilities; or (v) membership in unions, trades, and vocational associations. According to the Code, the discrimination and harassment towards you may have been with respect to any of the following “personal characteristics”:
- Ethnic origin
- Family status
- Gender expression
- Gender identity
- Marital status
- Place of origin
- Sex, including sexual harassment and pregnancy
- Sexual orientation
- Receipt of public assistance (applies only to claims about housing)
- Record of offences (applies only to claims about employment and to criminal conviction for which you have received a pardon).
You can obtain additional information about how to file a human rights application in Ontario from the Human Rights Support Legal Centre.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against or harassed and you wish to make a claim against a federal organization, then you must file your application before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). Examples of federal organizations that fall under the CHRC include airlines, chartered banks, telephone companies, crown corporations, or federal government departments or agencies. You should file your complaint within 12 months of the act or treatment you are complaining about. The CHRC will notify you, give you an opportunity to mediate, and investigate your complaint. The CHRC can send the matter to conciliation (a process similar to mediation, but not voluntary) or refer it to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT), which has a duty to hear matters and release decisions.
Legal Opinion Research
A legal opinion is a formalized written document advising on a narrow legal matter or question. A legal opinion could relate to the potential success associated with a decision to litigate, defend, enter into an agreement or transaction, or to engage in a specific legal action. Ambrosini Law provides opinions that relate primarily to questions of mental health law and disability rights.
We review all the facts and provide a well-thought out and careful opinion based on a complete legal analysis and conclusions. It is important to understand that a legal opinion does not declare what the law is, as only a judicial opinion can do that. A legal opinion is also not adjudication or a ruling. During our initial consultation we will discuss with you whether it even makes sense to provide an opinion in the context.
We litigate cases primarily involving health and medical law matters, including medical negligence, doctor-patient relationships, mental health, or physical disability issues. We will work to resolve the issue without the need for costly and time-consuming litigation.
We understand it is not always possible to settle, which may require taking your dispute to court to allow an impartial judge or jury to decide. In such situations there may be few options to resolve a dispute except by resorting to litigation. If so, we will work with you to receive honest and frank advice about your chance of success before a tribunal, court of first instance, or appeal court.
We will help you to navigate the process, from start to finish, even if it may take months or years. If you are the plaintiff, a statement of claim will set out the amount of the claim, facts, and allegations that make the defendant liable for that amount. If you are the defendant, a statement of defence will set out the facts as to why the defendant is not liable for the amount claimed. The law imposes time constraints on when such documents must be delivered to the other side and court. As the litigation timeline unfolds we will keep you apprised at each stage of the process before, during, and after trial.
Mental Health Law
Some statistics suggest that approximately one in five individuals will experience a mental health condition every year. Another one in seventeen people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Given the increase and complexity of mental health issues in society, ensuring that you have individuals with the appropriate expertise, knowledge, and sensitivity is critical. Some of the common issues that arise in this area include:
- Capacity and consent (mental competency)
- Contractual capacity
- Discrimination in the workplace or employment
- Duty to warn
- Forensic psychiatry (Fitness to Stand Trial/Not Criminally Responsible)
- Human rights and mental health
- Involuntary commitment
- Insurance claims and mental illness
- Mental health diversion strategies
- Mental health in prisons and jails
- Personal health information involving mental health
- Police interactions among individuals with mental illness
- Privacy rights involving mental health
- Psychiatric advance directives
- Risk management among mental health facilities
- Voting rights and mental health
Daniel Ambrosini holds a doctorate in psychiatry, is a senior lawyer member of the Consent and Capacity Board and has appeared before the Ontario Review Board in hundreds of cases. He has advised law firms on complex mental health law issues, appeared as an expert in court on issues related to mental capacity, and has taught extensively in this field. Although our firm does not represent clients before the Consent and Capacity Board at this time, we may be able to provide independent legal advice on such issues broadly.
The application of neuroscience can arise across various legal areas, including criminal law, tort law, and consumer law. Neurolaw is an interdisciplinary field that merges advances and discoveries in neuroscience with legal rules and standards of evidence as they apply to specific court cases.
Our firm advises clients seeking to introduce novel scientific methods and technologies into court as evidence for a particular case. We work closely with neuroscientists, psychologists, and other experts to evaluate the role that assessments and reports, cognitive and psychological testing, brain imaging scans, and other neuroscientific discoveries will have in court if tendered as evidence. Some of the neurolaw issues we advise on include:
- Actuarial instruments in legal proceedings
- Brain privacy claims
- Brain scans, neuroimaging, and determination of states of mind in court
- Jury selection, decision-making, and the role of neuroscience
- Pharmacological/therapeutic forgetting and memory dampening
- Lie detection techniques
- Neurotechnologies in court
- Neuro-litigation challenges such as claims of neuro-responsibility
- Neuro-markers and neurogenetic biomarkers
- Nootropics (e.g. nutraceuticals) involving cognitive enhancers
- Traumatic brain injuries
Ambrosini Law is one of the first Canadian law firms to develop a focused practice in neurolaw.
If you have been injured as a result of another person’s or organization’s negligence, reckless behavior, or misconduct you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages including medical bills, pain and suffering, or decreased quality of life. We understand that your injury may be physical, psychological, or emotional and we care about your health and want to help. Some of the types of cases we handle include:
- Animal attacks, strict liability of owners
- Economic torts
- Environmental protection (toxic torts)
- False imprisonment
- Invasion of privacy
- Medical malpractice
- Mental injury, nervous shock, or psychological injury
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Nuisance claims
- Products liability (defective products)
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trespass (to land and property)
- Vicarious liability
- Work accidents and occupational hazards
- Wrongful birth, death, or life claims
Privacy is a fundamental right of all Ontarians. Individuals have the right to privacy and to manage who can view their health information.
We assist clients with privacy law matters primarily in the health and medical sector in accordance with Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). This statute governs how health information custodians at hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, and other institutions handle your personal health information. You may have concerns with how your personal health information was collected, used, or disclosed or you may believe there was a privacy breach or a potential breach.
We also advise on privacy matters in the context of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) — federal legislation governing how private companies and not-for-profit organizations engaging in commercial activities handle personal information. This can arise in the context of how private companies conducting medical or health research handle your personal information during clinical trials.
Where necessary, we will assist with Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act (FIPPA) requests where members of the public wish to access personal information that is held by governments, universities, colleges, hospitals, or designated agencies.
Real Estate and Housing
Everyone has a fundamental right to housing in accordance with adequate standards of living. Having a place to call home, whether you own the property or rent from others, is essential to one’s dignity and well-being. Individuals with mental illness often struggle with affordable and safe housing. If you have had issues or disputes arising from living in social, public, co-op, or non-profit housing, we can help you through the situation. We can also assist you to identify whether there has been possible discrimination against you in applying for housing or during your tenancy.
We assist with real estate transactions involving the purchase or sale of homes, re-sale of residential properties, or condominiums. We also represent clients with landlord-tenant disputes before the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).
Wills and Estates
Planning for future contingencies is important, particularly if you or someone close to you has a mental disability. Planning in small ways can offer you and your loved ones increased certainty in the face of incapacity, whether mental or financial, or in making end-of-life decisions. Wills, estates, and Power of Attorneys (POA) are some of the common planning tools used in estate planning.
It is not uncommon for individuals with mental disorders to complete a POA for Personal Care and/or a POA for Finances so others can make decisions in the event you cannot make decisions independently. Our firm assists in explaining the laws around Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID). Some of the documents you may be contemplating include:
- Advance Directive: addresses treatment and care wishes without necessarily naming someone else to make these decisions for you
- Continuing Power of Attorney for Finances: allows someone else to make financial decisions for you if becoming mentally incapable
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order: contains directions for medical personnel if you happen to stop breathing or do not have a heartbeat
- Guardianship Application: where the court makes a decision who will be appointed to act as guardian for property or personal care
- Henson Trust: a trust created for the benefit of a beneficiary of an estate who is receiving regular government assistance under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
- Living Will: a document where you write down what you want to happen should you become ill and can not communicate your wishes
- Last Will: sets out one’s final wishes about how their estate should be taken care of and distributed after death
- Non-Continuing Power of Attorney: allows someone else to look after your financial transactions while away from home for extended period
- Power of Attorney for Personal Care: allows someone else to make personal decisions including health care if you become incapable
- Psychiatric Advance Directive: a legal document addressing your treatment or personal care as it relates to psychiatric treatment
We would be pleased to discuss your matter with you. We will first verify that there are no conflicts to take you on as a client. Absent any conflict, we will then meet for approximately a
half-hour to one-hour consultation to hear your concern. You will not be billed for this initial free consultation. If we agree to proceed with your case, we will provide you with an engagement letter to sign. We will also provide you with our hourly rates and retainer fee arrangements.
Ambrosini Law Professional Corporation
393 University Avenue, Suite 2000
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1E6
Office: (416) 593-7100
Fax: (416) 593-1352