Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Philippe Casgrain R.I.P.
Quebec lawyer Philippe Casgrain had a natural charm that helped him win in court
‘I’m always anxious for the judge to take his seat in the courtroom so I can put on a show for him,’ he once said
(The Globe and Mail) If Philippe Casgrain hadn’t gone into law he might have been actor.
Mr. Casgrain, who died Feb. 28 of cancer at 82, was one of those cultivated, Old World figures with a sense of panache. A specialist in commercial and environmental law, he often relied on his natural charm to argue a case.
“I’m always anxious for the judge to take his seat in the courtroom so I can put on a show for him,” he once told a reporter. “You have to be as well prepared as any actor if you are going to be convincing and win any sympathy for your client.”
Philippe Casgrain was born in Rimouski, Que., April 17, 1927. He was named for his grandfather, Philippe Baby Casgrain, who was a federal MP in the 1880s; his father, Perrault, was a high-profile lawyer, who during the Second World War was a minister without portfolio in Quebec Premier Adelard Godbout’s administration.
As a young man, Philippe had a mind of his own. Initially, he flunked out of law school. But he kept at it until he obtained his law degree from l’Université Laval.
Admitted to the Quebec bar in 1952, he came to Montreal to start his practice with Magee, O’Donnell and Byers. At the time, English-speaking law firms were not generally open to French-Canadians, so it was a courageous step for him to take. In 1958 he was made a junior partner, was named a Queens Counsel in 1965, and rose through the ranks to became the founding partner of the firm that is today known as Fraser, Milner, Casgrain.
Always dramatically dressed and impeccably groomed, he had the charisma and cool intellect of a matinee idol.
“He was an omnivore in law. He was very versatile,” said his son-in-law Julius Grey. “He was performer. When he delivered a speech, you didn’t get a speech, you got a show. His whole life was politics. You won’t find it in the history books, but all the people who made the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s – Lesage, Lévesque, Lapalme, Kierans – they all listened to him. He advised ministers and made significant contributions to Quebec’s social programs.”
Mr. Casgrain loved to read. He collected first editions of French classics, and regarded a library with the same reverence as a chapel, as a place to read, reflect and be inspired. He especially admired the works of Lord Denning, the so-called people’s judge, who was responsible for sweeping changes to contemporary British common law. Active in Liberal Party politics, Mr. Casgrain believed that a background in the liberal arts – history, politics and literature – was indispensable to the practise of law. He served as the secretary of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation and as Bâtonnier of the Montreal Bar in 1980, he was responsible for introducing a network of law libraries throughout the province.
“He was a lion in the courtroom, he fought like a lion for his clients,” said Gerald R. Tremblay, a lawyer and colleague. “He would own the place, cross examine as no one could, and argue with vigour and conviction, often revealing his deep knowledge of the law and of culture, quoting Balzac or Shakespeare, and tossing in Latin phrases. He had a great sense of humour. He loved to laugh, and laughed often. His spirit was infectious.”
Lawyer Raynold Langlois agreed that while Mr. Casgrain could cut an argument to shreds, “it was pleasantly instructive to hear and watch him do it.”
Mr. Casgrain was also known as an active mentor, and took an interest in guiding the careers of rising young juniors in the profession. He served on a number of corporate boards, was involved with the National Theatre School, and was a senator of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
His marriage in 1954 to Claire Kirkland, a lawyer, and the first woman to be appointed to the Quebec cabinet, ended in divorce after 17 years. He leaves their three children, Kirkland, Marc and Lynne.
OBITUARY PHILIPPE CASGRAIN, Q.C., Ad.E. Mr. Philippe Casgrain Q.C., Ad.E., passed away in Montreal on February 28, 2010. He was the son of the late Perreault Casgrain and the late Lydie Prince. He had a distinguished legal career in the litigation department of Fraser Milner Casgrain of which he was a founding partner. A graduate of Universite Laval, he started his career in 1952 with the firm Magee, O’Donnell & Byers, which later became Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP. He was appointed partner in 1958. The same year, he was appointed Chairman of the Junior Bar Association of Montreal. He was Chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s committee on commercial law for the province of Quebec in 1963. In 1965, Mr. Casgrain was appointed Queen’s Counsel and Chairman of the Bar of Montreal’s committee on external relations. He was a member of the Board of the Bar of Montreal in 1959 and 1968, and of the General Council of the Quebec Bar in 1968. He was President of the Bar of Montreal in 1980-1981. He was a member of American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2001, the Bar of Montreal conferred him the prestigious honour of the “Merit of the Bar 2001-2002” for his outstanding contribution to the law libraries of Quebec. He was recipient of the honorary title Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E.) conferred by the Quebec Bar. A member of several boards of directors of various companies, Philippe Casgrain, was also involved in cultural and social organizations. The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at Saint-Germain d’Outremont Church, 28 Vincent-D’Indy avenue (corner Cote Saint-Catherine). A reception will follow the service at: (corner of Rachel) Valet parking
Former colleagues fondly remember founding partner of major law firm
(The Gazette) There will be a last formal goodbye tomorrow for Philippe Casgrain, the well-known Montreal litigator who left an indelible mark on many who worked with him or watched him in action.
Casgrain, one of the founding partners of Byers Casgrain LLP, the bilingual Montreal firm that became the Quebec arm of national law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC) in 2000, died on Sunday at 82 after more than a year battling cancer.
“He was one of those people who make an impression wherever they go and are unforgettable,” FMC said in a statement of tribute on Monday to the man who preferred to carry on instead of retire after more than 55 years of practising law.
It was Casgrain’s passion for arguing the law, his erudition and zestful enthusiasm that former law partners and litigators who worked with him recalled this week.
“He was a man of uncommon energy, a real lion in court,” said McCarthy Tétrault LLP litigator Gérald R. Tremblay.
“He would stand up and own the place, cross-examining as no one could a witness, and arguing with vigour and courage, showing his deep knowledge and sense of culture with Latin quotations or citations from Balzac.”
A keen lover of books and reading, Casgrain was awarded a special merit award from the Montreal Bar in 2001 for his role in pushing for – before and while acting as bâtonnier in 1980 – the creation of a network of law libraries so that lawyers and members of the judiciary throughout the province could have access.
Added Jack Greenstein, litigator with Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP: “What made him stand out was the comfort and ease he felt in the courtroom – it was as if it was his natural place.
“He had an ebullient personality and loved to talk and joke with people and was very bright. You might forget a lot of people, but you would never forget Philippe Casgrain,” Greenstein said.
“His wit and humour were permanent features of his courtroom demeanour,” said litigator Raynold Langlois of Langlois Kronström Desjardins LLP (LKD). “He could cut your arguments to pieces in an instant, but it was pleasant to hear and watch.”
Quebec Superior Court judge Gérard Dugré still recalls the exact time of day he first met Casgrain as a young student at the law firm where both worked together for almost 30 years until his appointment to the bench last year.
“He first gave me a lecture for not knowing something I should have known, but five minutes later took me under his wing and he was a generous and intelligent human being, a brilliant mentor and loyal partner,” Dugré said.
He noted that Casgrain turned down judgeships – including an invitation by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for a nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada – preferring the freedom to be able to always speak his mind.
Indeed, in addition to counselling clients, Casgrain was known as a sounding board and adviser for Liberal Party politics, acting behind the scenes for many years and at one time holding regular meetings at Montreal’s private Club St. Denis.
He had learned about politics and the law growing up in Rimouski as the son of prominent local lawyer Perreault Casgrain.
“Despite a very active practice, Philippe was always very much involved in defending the causes he believed in, at the Barreau and in politics notably,” said LKD’s Langlois.
“His contribution to the Barreau and to the political debate in Quebec, especially in the ’60s and ’70s, were monumental.
“Not only did Philippe live longer than most members of his generation, but by all counts he lived much more intensely every hour of the day and was the living symbol of carpe diem.”
Casgrain kept in shape by swimming every day and he loved horseback riding. One proud achievement was owning, in a syndicate along with Bombardier Inc.’s Laurent Beaudoin, the show jumping horse Adanis that won Canada’s first-ever world cup, along with Bromont rider Mario Deslauriers.
Stefan Martin, the intellectual property litigator who worked closely with Casgrain at FMC, said he remembers him as “a man of heart and a man of honour.”
Casgrain would not hesitate to remind young lawyers who did not say hello to the receptionist of their debt to support staff as well as the “sacredness of a lawyer’s word” in exercising the profession, Martin said.
“He was also very elegant, with his woven cape from Scotland, a shirt from Charvet because (Paris’s) Place Vendôme is such a lovely place, and a handkerchief always at the ready in his pocket in case a woman needed to dry her tears.”Décès de l’avocat Philippe Casgrain
(Les Affaires) Philippe Casgrain, l’un des juristes les plus connus de sa profession, est décédé le 28 février dernier, au terme d’un combat contre le cancer.
Homme de conviction, ce dernier aura « grandement contribué à la pratique du droit pendant près de 60 ans», soutient un communiqué du Barreau du Québec. Au moment de s’éteindre, l’homme était âgé de 82 ans.
Philippe Casgrain a entrepris sa carrière d’avocat en 1952 au cabinet Magee, O’Donnell & Byers, devenu aujourd’hui Fraser Milner Casgrain et a été nommé associé en 1958.
Cette même année, il a présidé l’Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal. En 1963, il a été président du comité du droit commercial de l’Association du Barreau canadien pour le Québec. En 1965, M. Casgrain a été nommé Conseiller de la Reine. En 1965 également, il a présidé le comité des relations extérieures du Barreau de Montréal. Il a été membre du conseil du Barreau de Montréal en 1959 et 1968, et du conseil général du Barreau du Québec en 1968.
Il a été bâtonnier du Barreau de Montréal en 1980 et 1981, en plus d’avoir été membre de multiples comités au fil des ans. Il s’est d’ailleurs vu octroyer, en 2001, le Mérite du Barreau de Montréal en pour son engagement remarquable en faveur des bibliothèques de droit. Cet engagement a mené à la création du Réseau de bibliothèques de Barreaux Inc., ancêtre de l’actuel Centre d’accès à l’information juridique.
Les funérailles auront lieu samedi, 6 mars 2010 à 11h en l’église Saint-Germain d’Outremont.Philippe Casgrain, Q.C., Ad. E., one of the founders of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, dies at 82 years of age
It is with deep sorrow that Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC) announces the death of Philippe Casgrain, one of the founders of the firm, who succumbed to cancer on February 28, 2010. The members of the firm wish to express their great sadness and extend their sincere condolences to Mr. Casgrain’s family and everyone who was close to this noble-hearted man and internationally renowned jurist.
“Mr. Casgrain’s career, which began in 1952 at the firm of Magee, O’Donnell & Byers, where he became a partner in 1958, was in every way a reflection of this charismatic figure, who will remain indelibly engraved in our memories: energetic, active, accomplished, striking, and enormously successful. He was one of those people who make an impression wherever they go and who are unforgettable. Of course, this is a great loss for the entire legal community, not just for Mr. Casgrain’s immediate family and our firm,” stated Claude Morency, managing partner of FMC’s Montreal office.
In the course of his lengthy career, Mr. Casgrain was President of the Junior Bar Association of Montreal. He was Chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s committee on commercial law for the province of Quebec in 1963. In 1965, he was President of the Bar of Montreal’s committee on external relations, and was appointed Queen’s Counsel. He was also a member of the Board of the Bar of Montreal in 1959-60, 1968-70, and, as Premier conseiller (First Counselor) in 1979-80. Me Casgrain was Bâtonnier (President) of the Bar of Montreal in 1980-81. The Bar of Montreal conferred on him the prestigious honour of the “Merit of the Bar” in 2001. The Quebec Bar, where he has sat on the General Council, awarded him the distinction of Advocatus Emeritus (Ad. E.) in 2007. He was also a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Mr. Casgrain served on the boards of various corporations, and was actively involved in a number of cultural and social organizations, such as the Fondation Armand-Frappier and the National Theatre School of Canada, and was also a Senator of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival Foundation of Canada.
“Despite his recent illness and suffering, I am convinced that Mr. Casgrain lived his life to the fullest, a life that was absolutely remarkable,” added Morency.