Former colleagues are remembering Roy Heenan, co-founder of Heenan Blaikie LLP, as a larger-than-life personality who loved the law and the people he worked with.
Heenan, who had been battling cancer, passed away Feb. 3 surrounded by his family at the age of 81.
He was one of the firm’s three co-founders who, along with Peter Blaikie and Donald Johnston, built the firm that grew to prominence until February 2014 when it closed its doors forever.
Norm Bacal, who was national co-managing partner for 16 years at Heenan Blaikie, was first a student in Heenan’s labour law class at McGill Law.
“That’s how far back we go,” says Bacal. “But I only got a ‘C’. The running joke in the firm for years after I was hired into the tax department was that I would never have to do any labour work and Roy would never have me.”
While he had only spoken with Heenan once in the last couple of years, Bacal says when he heard the news about his death he felt a “great sense of loss” for the person who had been a major influence on his life.
“Roy and Peter changed my life and sent it in a particular direction,” he says.
Bacal recalls Heenan as another kind of teacher, saying he learned a lot from him about how to approach people.
“He cast a giant shadow because he was a big personality, but on top of everything else, he was a real gentleman, always.
There are so many aspects to him as an individual and so many lessons that he taught that I think he did without meaning to teach,” Bacal says.
LAURA NIRIDER TO SPEAK AT YWL GALA
Young Women in Law has announced that Laura Nirider, the appeal counsel to Brendan Dassey, will speak at its seventh annual charity gala in April.
Nirider, who is a co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, represented Dassey, who was the subject of Netflix’s documentary series Making a Murderer.
BLAKES LAUNCHES INNOVATION CHALLENGE
Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP is looking to find the next big idea in business law.
The law firm has launched a legal tech competition it is calling the Global Legal Innovation Challenge.
The initiative will give $100,000 to a winning entry, which will also receive mentoring from Blakes and the firm’s partners on the project, Law Made.
For more information, visit globalinnovation.blakes.com.
LAW TIMES POLL
A Law Times column expressed concerns about extending the prison penalty for mischief on religious buildings, motivated by hate, to apply to all public buildings.
Readers were asked whether this will cause over-incarceration. Roughly 75 per cent said yes, the extension of 10-year maximum sentences to new non-violent crimes will lead to problems, like more pre-trial detention of youths accused of mischief. The remaining 25 per cent said no, extending the maximum sentence is a sage move that will demonstrate hate-motivated crimes are not condoned in Canada.