Heenan Blaikie infrastructure and construction litigation lawyer Geza Banfai is the recipient of one of the Toronto Construction Association’s (TCA) top honours the 2011 Donald P. Giffin Construction Industry Achievement Award.
“Geza Banfai is genuinely one of a kind,” said retiring association chair and fellow construction lawyer Glenn Ackerley, a partner in the firm of WeirFoulds.
“It is my pleasure to honour an industry champion and my good friend and respected colleague.”
The award recognizes “exemplary dedication and leadership” in pursuing the construction industry’s common goals and interests. It was presented at the association’s recent 144th annual general meeting and awards presentation.
A fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, Banfai graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1976 and was called to the bar in Ontario in 1978. He now is a partner in Heenan Blaikie’s infrastructure and construction litigation group.
A director of the Canadian Construction Association and former director of TCA and Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO), Banfai remains active in both TCA and CEO circles as well as other local and national construction organizations.
He also is currently the ex-officio legal representative of the Canadian Construction Documents Committee.
“Simply put, Geza Banfai is the consummate mentor,” Ackerley said. “His contribution to the Canadian construction industry is truly extraordinary.”In an interview, Banfai said it was “a great and unexpected” honour to receive the award.
He said being active in industry circles is important for a number of reasons, including the fact that it’s simply good business.
“Every one of us in the industry is seeking to stand out from our competition in some meaningful way and investing time and energy with our business partners is an obvious way of doing that,” Banfai said.
“But it’s also good business because participating actively in the industry makes you smarter. Most of us in the industry, and construction lawyers are no exception, tend to see the world from our own perspectives.
“This is natural, of course, but we all know of the problems that arise when we fail to see the big picture. How many times have I seen competent lawyers approach a problem in a way that’s perfectly sound legally, but completely inappropriate to the context. It’s that context that is essential to know, and I cannot think of any better way to learn it than by participating in the industry. The same holds for owners, contractors, design professionals and everyone else.”
Banfai, who during his career has represented every participant in the construction pyramid from lenders and owners to general contractors, subcontractors, materials suppliers and design professionals, said it’s also important to give back “simply because it’s the right thing to do.”
“I am privileged to have come to know many people in construction, and I doubt that any two of them would ever agree completely about how things should be in the industry,” he said.
“But I have no doubt they would all agree on this: that life is not a zero-sum game where the objective is to grab as much of the pie as you can and to hell with the others.
“Rather, life is an open-ended game, and it’s about constantly expanding the competencies of ourselves, our organizations and ultimately the industry as a whole, in effect, baking more pie and sharing the feast. And you can only do that by participating within the larger community.”