Robert Rotenberg

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Robert Rotenberg (born April 21, 1953) is a Canadian criminal lawyer and writer, based in Toronto. His extensive experience as a criminal defence lawyer informed his critically acclaimed first novel, Old City Hall.[citation needed][neutrality is disputed] He currently practices as part of the association of Rotenberg Shidlowski Jesin.[citation needed]


Rotenberg studied English literature at the University of Toronto, and then earned his law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School. He went to the London School of Economics for a master's degree in International Law, and traveled Europe on various scholarships.[citation needed] The influences of the literary realm and the legal profession have emerged throughout his career.[citation needed]

While in Europe in the early 1980s, he was the managing editor of English-language magazine Passion, The Magazine of Paris. When he returned to Canada, he and a partner founded and published T.O. The Magazine of Toronto, which ran for six years and folded in 1988 .[citation needed]

After brief stints as a film executive and a CBC Radio producer, Rotenberg returned to law. He and associates Alvin Shidlowski and Jacob Jesin have had a criminal law practice in Toronto since the early 1990s defending, as Rotenberg describes it, "everything from murder to shoplifting." Cases attracting particular attention have included the defence in 2007 of an Ontario College of Art and Design student who planted a fake bomb and posted a YouTube video about it as part of an art project, which in turn prompted an evacuation during a gala fundraiser at the Royal Ontario Museum .[citation needed] Rotenberg continues to actively practice law while focusing on his writing career, saying he plans to write 20 legal thrillers set in Toronto.[1]


Rotenberg's first novel, Old City Hall, is set in Toronto, and as the name suggests, features pivotal scenes in the city's historic Old City Hall, now used as a courthouse.[1] The book was published in February–March 2009 in North America and the United Kingdom, and audio and translated international versions have been published in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Japan and Israel. Since then he has published The Guilty Plea in 2011, Stray Bullets in 2012 and Stranglehold in 2013. All of his books have been on the Globe & Mail bestseller. All are set in Toronto, and feature the same ensemble cast.[1]

In 2013 NPR broadcast a feature story about Rotenberg and Toronto for their "Crime in the City" series, describing how he develops his characters by giving them actual locations in Toronto to live.[1]

Rotenberg also teaches part-time at the Humber Writing School correspondence course and does writing seminars at various law firms in Toronto as well as lecturing at an LLM program at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is an avid presenter of his work and enjoys meeting readers and writers at live reading events.[neutrality is disputed] He has participated in The Word on the Street, Authors at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto and the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Thrillerfest in New York City, among other literary events.[citation needed]

He has written scripts for two episodes for Murdoch Mysteries, "Murdoch Schmurdoch" (2018) & "Manual for Murder" (2019).


  1. ^ a b c d Wertheimer, Linda (July 1, 2013). "Rotenberg's Toronto Thrillers Mix Canadian Courtesy With Murder". NPR Books. NPR. Retrieved September 9, 2013.

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