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Monday, January 7, 2013

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Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP marked its 50th anniversary on the first day of 2013.

John Nelligan founded the law firm, the largest locally owned firm in Ottawa, on Jan. 1, 1963.

Before justice Denis Power left to become a Superior Court judge in 2000, the firm was known as Nelligan Power. Later, the partners voted to add Allan O’Brien and Janice Payne’s names to the firm’s brand.

On the occasion of the anniversary, partners spoke of the firm as a family unit.

“John Nelligan has always perceived this firm as his family. As a demanding partner and mentor, he set a high standard,” said O’Brien.

“We, as his adopted family members, strove to meet or exceed his expectations. No one wanted to disappoint John Nelligan. Happily, he says he is proud of his family.”

The firm now boasts more than 60 lawyers at offices in Ottawa, Vankleek Hill, Alexandria and Kingston, Ont.


Cox & Palmer welcomed 14 new lawyers on Jan. 1 after New Brunswick law firm Barry Spalding was dissolved on Dec. 31.

The majority of Barry Spalding’s lawyers — partners John P. Barry, Hélène L. Beaulieu, Bruce M. Logan, Duane M. McAfee, Brenda G. Noble, David G. O’Brien, Howard A. Spalding, Deirdre L. Wade, and Peter T. Zed; associates Jack M. Blackier, Talia C. Profit, Colin A. Fraser, and Patrick Dunn; and counsel Richard E. DeBow — moved to Cox & Palmer’s offices in Moncton and Saint John, N.B.

But not everyone made the move to Cox & Palmer. Former Barry Spalding partners Michael D. Brenton, William C. Kean, Maria G. Henheffer, and Donald V. Keenan, along with three associates, started a new law firm called BrentonKean.

Although the offer to join the firm was extended to everyone, Brenton says some lawyers were concerned about conflict issues.

“We went our own way primarily to serve our long-standing clients who would’ve been conflicted in a significant way had we joined Cox & Palmer,” says Brenton, adding the firm wasn’t dissolved for financial reasons.

George Cooper, Cox & Palmer’s New Brunswick managing partner, says service improvement and specialization necessitated the closure.

“As the consolidation in the legal market in Canada and Atlantic Canada has continued, this is a really good fit for both the lawyers joining and for Cox & Palmer,” he says.

There have been waves of consolidations, Cooper says. “This is part of a trend that I think is driven by client needs for greater specialization and enhanced levels of service, which larger platforms are generally able to provide.”

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A new British Columbia pilot project will allow paralegals to make certain appearances in court on behalf of clients.

The Law Society of British Columbia, the British Columbia Provincial Court, and the Supreme Court of British Columbia have implemented a two-year project that will see paralegals appear in some family law matters.

In the provincial court, paralegals may appear in the Cariboo/northeast district and Surrey. They may also appear in the Supreme Court in Vancouver, New Westminster, and Kamloops.

Paralegals will deal primarily with non-contentious procedural applications.

“Together with the courts, we’re trying this out for two years to see whether paralegals can provide these services in an effective and competent manner,” said Doug Munro, a policy lawyer with the law society.

“It is our hope that the project succeeds and can eventually be expanded into other areas of law.”

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