Legal Legacy

Abe Feinstein

1936 - 2021

Abe Feinstein was a cherished member of Soloway Wright for 55 years. He was a superb commercial real estate lawyer who served clients with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. He was an unselfish and gracious teacher and mentor to generations of young lawyers. His record in community service is exceptional. He was a founding director of the Centertown Citizens Housing Corporation of Ottawa. He was made Honorary President of the National Capital Region YMCA – a rare and unique honour. He was president of the Carleton County Law Association and that organization’s solicitors award for excellence was renamed the Abe Feinstein Solicitor Award. He was a life bencher of the Law Society of Ontario and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. In 2016 he was inducted into the Order of Ottawa.

Abe’s professional career is the strongest possible testimony to the proposition that a naturally nice guy can be successful. In Abe’s case the essential decency and kindliness of the man were not incidental but the cause of his success. He was the trusted legal shepherd of many big real estate deals in this town. Big deals nearly always bring big problems, exacerbated by big personalities. Abe had a calming influence on all the players in these situations. Without raising his voice or attempting to overbear anyone else in the room he knew how to pull the levers to get to a closing. That was his style, practical and clever and unconfrontational. Unlike Mark Twain, who came into the world asking for a light, Abe must have come asking, “Is there a way we can get this done?” That ability to quiet the waters is a rare quality in an often tense and testy profession. He managed to keep it to the end of his days.

For all this, he was something of a riddle: How could someone so naturally gentle and unself-aggrandizing also be so quietly ambitious? He couldn’t have accomplished all he did in the firm, in the community and in the leadership of his profession without some harder qualities. He surely had them – tenacity, a capacity for work, a belief in himself. Such people normally wear their ambition on their sleeve. It radiates from them and fills the room. Others feel reduced in its presence. Nothing could be farther from the effect Abe had on people, whether in a large room or a small one, whether with one other individual or with many. Colleagues and clients relaxed around him. He brought out the best in them. They felt he needed them and valued them. The fire in his belly was assuredly there, but it was a secret to all but himself. What was not a secret was his natural kindliness, which was as genuine and unforced as breathing itself. Yet it was also the shield and the sword that took an unassuming man to high accomplishment.