All in the Family

Can lawyers really run law firms?

I remember going to the offices of Heenan Blaikie in 2001, when I was an associate at another Bay Street law firm in Toronto. Heenan’s offices were not like those dour, wood-panelled offices of other law firms. They were bright, light filled—different because Heenan tried to be different. For four decades, the firm attracted a marquee list of counsel including former prime ministers Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, a former Quebec premier, and former and future Supreme Court justices. It was also home to several controversial figures: Marcel Aubut, the larger-than-life former president of the Quebec Nordiques who resigned as head of the Canadian Olympic Committee two years ago in the face of allegations of sexual harassment and, most notoriously, Jacques Bouchard, who was embroiled with a former Israeli Mossad operative in Russian arms deals with African dictators.

Heenan Blaikie began as...