Toronto criminal lawyer Seth Weinstein had a busy day on Wednesday.
In the late morning, he appeared in court on behalf of a high-profile client: Alessandro Lisi, a friend of Mayor Rob Ford.
Then, in the evening, Mr. Weinstein emerged from a black SUV with a client whose profile eclipses all others: Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. The teen heartthrob and the lawyer in his 40s braved a crush of journalists and screaming fans as Mr. Bieber turned himself in to police and was charged with assault.
It was seemingly all in a day’s work for Mr. Weinstein, who is a partner in prominent defence lawyer Brian Greenspan’s firm.
“It happens to be that I’m involved in both [cases], but I don’t think you can read anything else into it,” Mr. Weinstein said in an interview Thursday.
Mr. Weinstein is tight-lipped about Mr. Bieber, declining to say how the 19-year-old is coping with his most recent criminal charge. He also wouldn’t say how or when Toronto Police asked Mr. Bieber to turn himself in, but maintains he is innocent and said “he immediately surrendered.”
“He was booked and processed and that was the extent of it,” he said.
Police allege that Mr. Bieber hit a limousine driver on the back of the head “several times” after being picked up from a downtown Toronto nightclub early in the morning of Dec. 30.
Mr. Bieber is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on March 10, but Mr. Weinstein said he won’t physically attend the hearing.
“He’s no different than any other person who’s charged. They can appear through their lawyer,” he said.
Mr. Weinstein is quick to stress that Mr. Greenspan is Mr. Bieber’s lead counsel and that the case was referred to the veteran criminal lawyer by Mr. Bieber’s U.S. attorneys, who have previously worked with the Toronto firm on unrelated cases.
Mr. Weinstein, who studied law at Osgoode Hall, has spent his entire legal career – from summer student to partner – at Mr. Greenspan’s firm and considers him a mentor.
“I got very lucky. Certainly his reputation speaks for itself. So if you have an opportunity to work here, you take it and you run. And you just hope they never kick you out,” he said. “Obviously, it’s worked out very well for me. And I’m forever grateful and I love what I do.”
The 42-year-old father of two has been a criminal defence lawyer for 14 years and became a partner in the firm Greenspan Humphrey Lavine in 2007.
Asked if he’s a ‘Belieber,’ Mr. Weinstein laughs and says: “My kids, maybe.”
“I think he’s a remarkable talent,” he said. “But beyond that, I’m not intimately familiar with his work.”