Mtre Horia Bundaru
Mtre Horia Bundaru : The heart of an actor in a counsel’s robe
By Mélanie Dugré, lawyer
(Article issued on November 22, 2016)
“The public is entitled to the truth and to a government that acts within the framework of the law under all circumstances and at all times. Truth is a value that modern society is required to provide… Unfortunately, the truth can be easily manipulated. Government can hide it, transform it and even use it as a weapon in its political relations. In doing so, it makes a serious mistake that can backfire, as truth is a double-edged sword.”
These visionary and wise words are those of a young 14-year old student, Horia Bundaru, winner of the “Write for Justice” contest in 1996. Even though they still hold true today, their author, who is now married and the father of two adorable little girls, has come a long way since his first taste of victory in the legal arena.
Admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 2006, Mtre Bundaru is a partner at the law firm Norton Rose, specializing in commercial litigation. He works in complex and diverse files, particularly in construction law. Over the past few years, he has been heavily involved in litigation concerning the historic Churchill Falls project. His career path is unusual, surprising and inspiring.
Born in Romania, he and his family settled down in Montreal in 1993, following an 18-month stay in Belgium, embracing a more promising future after the fall of communism. Even though Quebec, with its Francophile environment, was a natural choice, the Bundaru family arrived in Montreal in the middle of the euphoria and madness of the Stanley Cup celebrations, which elicited a mixture of curiosity and amazement in Horia, who was more accustomed to a soccer ball than a hockey puck.
It did not take long, however, for Horia to become integrated into Quebec society and to win various awards as his academic career progressed. It was, in fact, during his secondary studies at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf that he participated in the “Write for Justice” contest and then announced, in answer to a question from a member of the bench during the awards presentation, that he planned to become a lawyer, a litigator to be more precise.
However, his Cartesian and rational side had initially dictated the choice of economics as an academic discipline. A few days before the start of university, he was called for an interview at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, an interview that proved critical to his career path. By opening the doors of law to him, destiny had just traced a path that would allow him to combine his rational thinking with his writing and speaking skills, while fulfilling his need for creativity.
For there was a performing artist inside Horia, a man who loves the arts in all their forms, but in particular the performing arts. As a stage director for several years at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, he had staged a musical in the Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts and had even taken part in auditions at Montreal’s Conservatoire d’art dramatique, located at the time in the building that today houses the Court of Appeal, a place where Horia Bundaru was destined to excel.
Recruited by Norton Rose in 2003, he learned from seasoned litigants such as François Fontaine, Pierre Bienvenu and Sophie Melchers, with whom he still works and for whom he has great admiration and appreciation.
Having been named one of the best speakers at the Charles-Rousseau international law moot competition, Horia directed the McGill University Faculty of Law moot team for this same competition from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, he was named best speaker at the French public speaking contest of the Young Bar Association of Montreal and won first place (ex aequo) at the Prix Paris-Montréal de la Francophonie. The following year, the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf awarded him its Prix de la relève (next generation award) in the Business category as a commendation for his stellar record and his influence on the legal community.
For the past two years, Horia has been teaching civil procedure at the École du Barreau. His eyes shine when he speaks about how he enjoys capturing his students’ attention, having discussions with them and participating in the legal training of future fellow lawyers. With unabashed pride, he received his first glowing evaluations, in which he is described as a funny, dynamic and impassioned teacher. This teaching assignment clearly provides him with a forum where he can give full rein to the performing artist in him, unhindered by the seriousness and judicial balancing required in a court of law.
As his passion for the arts is never very far away, Horia has been serving, since 2012, on the Board of Directors of La Licorne, a theatre for the performing arts that he admires for its creativity and ability to reinvent itself in order to reach a varied audience.
The Bar of Montreal has not been left out because it can always rely on Mtre Bundaru to sit on several of its committees. He has been a member of the Liaison Committee with the Quebec Superior Court, Civil Division since 2015. In addition, he has been a member of the Salon VISEZ DROIT Committee since 2014, which he will chair in 2017. He has promised a festive program to mark the 20th anniversary of the Salon under the theme of celebrating justice.
Mtre Bundaru actively contributed to the recent update of the Bar of Montreal’s “Guide of Professional Courtesy” on the occasion of the adoption of the new Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers and the new Code of Civil Procedure. He sincerely hopes that the values set out in this Guide will be upheld and advocated by all members of the Bar.
In a period during which the legal profession is experiencing far-reaching changes, Mtre Bundaru enthusiastically sees opportunities opening up to litigation lawyers in civil procedure reform to use their imagination and creativity to minimize the Court’s recess periods, to simplify procedures and obtain a satisfactory, less costly and speedier resolution of disputes.
If the past is any indication, we can be sure that Mtre Bundaru’s career as a litigation lawyer, which is well under way, will continue successfully thanks to his clients’ confidence in him, as well as the respect of his fellow lawyers and members of the judiciary.