“A Day In The Life” with criminal lawyer and author, Robert Rotenberg

Robert Rotenberg — Bobby to his friends — and I got to know each other in our last year of high school, and he was already a writer.

We joined a creative writing class where we lounged on pillows at our teacher’s house and read our work to each other. Bobby’s stories were already a cut above. When he read, we listened.

We have stayed best friends since then. We give each other advice all the time, and sometimes we take the advice, sometimes we don’t.

“I want to move to Paris and work on a magazine,” he said one time. “Don’t,” I advised. He did anyway, and edited an English-language weekly for several years.

“I want to start a magazine,” he said. “Don’t,” I said again. He did, and started a remarkable magazine, T.O. Then we both went to law school.

Through all our years he has always been dedicated to the point of obsessiveness about anything he does. It was no secret that he was writing all the time, but he didn’t show his work even to me until he was ready. It was amazing how perceptive and clever his work turned out to be. But not surprising.

-Written by David Israelson

Robert Rottenberg
I used to be a cowboy. I think my mother may have had greater ambitions for me.
Robert Rottenberg
Instead I hike and walk with friends. All over the city. The island, the valleys, the cemeteries, the Leslie Street Spit. Just have to keep on moving.
Robert Rottenberg
Here’s my best friend David Israelson, who wrote this intro. For the last ten years we’ve done a ski trip together with friends down to Ellicottville, New York. Not this year.
Robert Rottenberg
I love to cook. I make my own peanut butter and like most of us during the lockdown bake bread. This year I started making lemon shuffles. MMMMM.
Robert Rottenberg
In the fall when I could see the lockdown coming, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to ski with my friends and family, I went on Facebook Marketplace and bought five pairs of snowshoes. Now you can’t buy them anywhere!
Robert Rottenberg
I also import handmade bags from Spain. Take a close look, they are made out of used mens’ suits. All recycled. Good for the environment and maybe one day I’ll be able to go back to Spain to meet my manufacturer again.
Robert Rottenberg
I’m also a novelist. I write murder mysteries set in Toronto. The new book, DOWNFALL, comes out this week. The theme is how the city has become divided between rich and poor and the homeless crisis. And now a serial killer is murdering homeless people. Here’s a particularly awful picture I took of myself in my office.
Robert Rottenberg
I’ve been a criminal lawyer in Toronto for more than 30 years. Here is one of my oldest clients – we first met when he was 12. After three decades of being in and out of jails, and living on the street, he finally has no charges and has his own apartment.


Which ‘hood are you in?

Downtown. Very downtown. Home and office. I walk to work. Rarely go north of St. Clair. Can’t remember the last time I was north of Bloor – except to get right out of town and to north. Far north. Either in the city or in the wilderness.

What do you do?

A few things. I’m the author of bestselling novels. I also work full time as a criminal lawyer, for the last 30 plus years. I write television screenplays. I teach writing to wanna-be novelists at Humber College and private students and lawyers, who need to learn how to write. And because I always wanted to do something like this, I import hand-made bags from Spain. But mostly what I do is love my children. Really the only things that matters.

What are you currently working on?

I’m well into Book Seven in my series, which is due – yikes – June 30. Also very tied up in the launch of DOWNFALL. Plus co-writing a TV pilot about…(top secret for now, a real fun idea). Plus preparing for the virtual book tour across Canada by Zoom – very cool. In my law practice about ten different cases, mentoring the young lawyers in my firm. Teaching I have two terrific writing students, both with great ideas for novels. Waiting for the lockdown to end so we can start selling more bags. Best of all, working on a few new bread recipes.

Where can we find your work?

I’ve had the great fortune of being published by Simon & Schuster so my books are available everywhere. On line, in bookstores (I encourage you to use our great local bookstores). All six novels are available and, final plug, you can go to my website and order from there, and sign up for my very very infrequent newsletter. I’m at robertrotenberg.com. Hope the pages turn!