Sheilah L. Martin, BCL/LLB’81 – Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada
How it Started: My aspiration was to become a law professor. The photo captures me before a public window at LaFleur publishing in Old Montreal which was displaying my first law book – which I co-wrote with Professor Ethel Groffier-Atala. It was called: “Defendez vos droits avec un sourire.”
How it’s Going: Currently I’m a puisne justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, having served in that role since December 18, 2017
Steven P. Hinkley, LLB’99 – Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta, Judicial District of High Prairie
How it Started: I came to McGill thinking I was going to become a corporate or patent lawyer.
How it’s Going: I became a generalist lawyer, then a defense lawyer, then a crown prosecutor, then legal counsel for the RCMP, then a Chief Prosecutor, and I am now a Judge of the Alberta Provincial Court in Rural Alberta, since May of 2022!
Isabelle Daoust, BCL/LLB’96 – Deputy Chief Executive / Chef adjointe de la direction
The Canadian Bar Association / L’Association du Barreau canadien
How it Started: I didn’t have much clarity in my twenties about what I wanted to do. Something international? Maybe a diplomat? I graduated from McGill Law School in 1996 (BCL/LLB).
How it’s Going: After articling in a large firm in Montreal, I ended up with the Red Cross for almost twenty years. I was a regional legal adviser in West Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross. I then moved to Headquarters in Geneva to promote the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines, and work on disarmament issues. I also worked in Canada and in the United States to promote Red Cross legal education programs. After a rich career with the Red Cross, I transitioned to the federal public service, with senior roles at the Department of National Defence and Immigration Canada. I am currently the Deputy CEO at the Canadian Bar Association, a national association of lawyers with 37,000 members.
Robert Notkin, BA’95, BCL/LLB’05 – Senior Legal Counsel – Data Privacy and IP Licensing
Pratt & Whitney Canada
How it Started: First of all, I entered McGill law as a mature student in 2002 at age 29. I believe it was only the third entering class in the then new transsystemic program and it was designed to be completed in 4 years. Being a mature student I wanted to get it done a quickly as possible and took summer classes in order to complete the program in 3 years (Class of 2005).
How it’s Going: Upon graduation I articled with Stikeman Elliott in Montreal, spent one year in their New York office but ultimately decided law firm life wasn’t for me and joined the in house counsel team at Pratt & Whitney Canada (“P&WC”) in 2010. I spent 9 years as a compliance lawyer in their export control group which included a time when P&WC was under a consent agreement with the US Government. I briefly joined P&WC’s Business Development department and I’m currently the Pratt & Whitney Canada Privacy Officer.
John Rankin, LLM’85 – John Rankin CMG | Governor | British Virgin Islands
How it Started: I graduated in Scots law at the University of Glasgow and could have settled down to become a Solicitor in Scotland. But I wanted to pursue an international career and was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to study for an LLM in International Law at McGill.
How it’s Going: It changed my life, studying under the supervision of the inspirational Professor John Humphrey, one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. My career since then has been in the UK Foreign Office, serving in Geneva, Dublin, Boston, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bermuda and now as Governor of the British Virgin Islands. Despite all my travels, my two years at McGill and all that I learned there have always remained with me.
Allen Mendelsohn BA, ‘91 MBA ‘93, BCL/LLB ’01 LLM ‘10 – Internet, privacy and technology law / droit d’internet, vie privée et technologie
How it Started: I started law school with no specific ambition, except the goal of becoming a lawyer. Thanks to Professors Patrick Healy and Ronald Sklar, I became enamored and immersed in criminal law. I won the John E. Crankshaw Prize upon graduating as the top criminal law student in my class.
How it’s Going: I am now a noted expert in internet and technology law, and am in my seventh year of teaching Internet Law at the Faculty. Things change; I think that’s fine, and I am proud of where I ended up.
Pearl Eliadis, BSc’81, BCL/LLB’85
How it Started: I wanted to be a primatologist, working with mountain gorillas. The geographical area I wanted to do my field work in was dangerous, so I changed tracks and moved to law instead, a very different kind of animal behaviour!
How it’s Going: Today, I have a law practice based in Montreal that specializes in human rights, national institutions and democratic governance. I have the privilege of serving as Associate Professor (professional) at McGill where I teach public policy and law.
Norm Steinberg, BSc’71, BCL’75 – Vice Chair of BFL Canada
How it Started: I entered McGill Law with intent to become a business lawyer. I graduated in 1975 and joined Ogilvy Renault in Montreal.
How it’s Going: I specialized in M&A, led our law firm in a series of global mergers, became Global Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright, one of the largest law firms in the world. Retired from the firm four years ago, and became Vice Chair of BFL Canada and on boards of about a dozen public, private and not for profit organizations.
Paul Marchand, BCL’66, LLM’85
How it Started: I always knew I could not follow my dad into dentistry or medicine. My feeling was that I could write and wished to help and counsel people. School was interesting and I felt that I had talent. I won a scholarship to Princeton but wanted to work in Montreal.
How it’s Going: Early days in law at Byers Casgrain were rough but I found a wonderful mentor in Bill Stewart who pioneered estate planning and prematurely died when I was 32. I carried on his practice which included some fortunate people who I helped become philanthropic. I am now retired but have redirected some $100 million to good causes.
Grant McCrea, BA’82, LLB’85, MA’86
How it Started: I was homeless for 8 years before miraculously McGill let me in in as a “mature student” on the basis of a three-sentence application, from which I went on to get a philosophy degree and an MA before entering McGill Law, where I went on to finish first in my class before moving to NYC (which paid better and had fewer barriers to entry) for 35 years, during which I visited 44 countries as an international litigator.
How it’s Going: I am now retired from the law and finishing my 6 books (2 have already been published, by Random House). So never give up!
Michael Quigley, LLB’77, LLM’83
How it Started: When I was growing up in the Hammer I wanted to do criminal law. Close family friends did criminal law. Started at McGill in 1973. LL.B 1977. LL.M 1983, Inst. of Comparative Law; Thesis: “Estoppel Against the Crown in Tax.” The lovely late John Durnford was my supervisor. Advice from experience: The only good thesis is a finished thesis! Might have stayed in Quebec, but it was not such a good time for Anglos in 1976-1977. Came back to Ontario, in Toronto. Articled for Heward Stikeman – wonderful man and teacher. Called in 1980. Worked at CIBC for a year, and then to McCarthy & McCarthy, now McCarthy Tetrault. Practiced tax for over 25 years. Learned everything I know about being a good lawyer from the late Arthur Scace. Dear friend and mentor.
How it’s Going: I was appointed to Ontario Superior Court as a CW Ontario country judge in 2005. Came back into Toronto in 2010. Have loved being a trial judge. Ironically, full circle, I have done nothing but Criminal law for the past 13 years. Love jury trials. Just turned 70. A few more to go Deo Volente.
Marcel Strigberger, LLB’72
How it Started: Throughout my 40 + years of practice I sought to provide our profession with humor. I often heard comments that lawyers and humor is an oxymoron. I found as did most of our colleagues that humor was indeed a magic elixir, lowering stress, enhancing civility and making lawyers appear more human. Did I mention the need for fun ?
How it’s Going: Please visit my website. (CAUTION… May result in uncontrollable laughter) https://marcelshumour.com/
Mahmoud Ghonaim, LLM’91, DCL’95 – BCL (Cairo Uni.), LLM, DCL (McGill), MBA (Chifley Business School, Aus.)
How it Started: My aspiration was to shift from Prosecutor Attorney to a law professor in Air & Space International law. My group was from at least 22 countries; unfortunately, we all took different paths in our home countries and regions worldwide since graduation, carrying McGill as our pride.
How it’s Going: Currently, I am Visitor Professor, Legal Advisor & Freelancer, International Certified Practitioner, Commercial Arbitrator
Hubert de MESTIER du BOURG, LLM’70, DCL’74
How it Started: After graduation I joined TOTAL COMPAGNIE FRANCAISE DES PETROLES as a lawyer.From early 1976 until end of 1978 I was in Tokyo as deputy group representative, then my whole professional life took place in oil and gas industry, mostly in East Asia. Also I received some technical training, negotiated several industrial projects in China (refinery near Dalian), south Korea, Japan,, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia.
How it’s Going: Based in Tokyo I completed my career as Chief Representative of Total group of companies for North East Asia (Japan,Korea, Taiwan). After my retirement in 2007, I did teach Energy Economics for ten years in Japanese universities, also in Madagascar , France and once in Canada.Now I am writing books, particularly about east Asia history. The few years I spent in Canada, particularly at McGill have been extremely important to me.
Eric Verney, LLM’97 – Equity partner at Spenglerfox (there are ten of us) for the last 5 years and Head of Africa, in Executive Search and Leadership Advisory.
How it Started: After a Master in International Law at Paris I Sorbonne in France, I went to McGill for a LL.M to get a flavor of North America. Back to France, I started as an intern in a Law firm (UGGC) in Paris for a few months, looking after International Commercial Law, Arbitration and M&A….before being hired as a junior consultant with a recruitment firm (Michael Page) and dedicated to the Tax & Legal department, working for clients such as General Counsel, Tax counsel or attorneys for their internal hiring needs.
How it’s Going: 7 years later, wanted to know more about Executive Search, I joined a boutique firm for a few months before being hird as a senior consultant then Country Manager France for Spenglerfox, this was 17 years ago. I have been an equity partner at Spenglerfox (there are ten of us) for the last 5 years and Head of Africa, in Executive Search and Leadership Advisory. Le Droit mène à tout … à condition d’en sortir! I think I would have been very happy doing International arbitration…but life decided otherwise.
Bart Dzikowski, BCL/LLB’02 – Managing Director at the Novartis Venture Fund and its Head of Transactions & Legal based in Basel, Switzerland.
How it Started: I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I started at McGill Law but hoped that I would meet smart people who could help me figure things out. I wasn’t a particularly good student but was lucky enough to get a summer stint at a NY firm and follow some of my newly found friends there (to this day, we are all very close and I credit them for helping me find my way).
How it’s Going: After a few years of private practice, I joined an investment bank and then moved to Switzerland where I have spent the last 14 years as a Managing Director at a healthcare venture fund managing several portfolio investments, our junior investment and operational team and our transactions.
Johshua Krane, BCL/LLB’08 – Partner, McMillan
How it Started: I had dreams of being an advocate and a teacher, and law school would launch me on the path to getting there.
How it’s Going: Advocacy is a small part of the job today. Problem-solver is my real job. Each day, I try to put myself in my clients’ shoes and ask how I can help them solve the challenges they and their businesses face.
Jean-Paul Hubert, BCL’66
How it Started: La lecture au collège en 1960, d’un livre intitulé « Le diplomate canadien » m’a emmené a vouloir exercer cette profession. Et j’estimai qu’un diplôme en droit allait me procurer les meilleures chances d’atteindre mon but. Une rencontre avec le doyen Frank Scott en 1963 orienta mon choix sur McGill.
How it’s Going: Après d’autres études à Columbia U et à la Sorbonne, j’ai enfin entrepris en 1971 une carrière diplomatique de 35 ans. Au moment de ma retraite en 2006, j’avais passé 27 de mes 35 ans à l’étranger. Séjours entrecoupés par des fonctions au Bureau des Affaires juridiques du Ministère à Ottawa. Pendant 17 de ces 27 ans j’ai été ambassadeur au Sénégal, à l’Organisation des États américains à Washington, en Belgique, en Argentine et en Suisse. J’ai aussi siégé pendant 9 ans au Comité juridique interaméricain de l’OEA.
Angus McMurtry, LLB’98 – Professor at the University of Ottawa
How it Started: Part way through my law studies, I co-founded an educational software company [Xello.com] with a friend who, a few year later, married Rachel Young, another McGill Law grad. The company did well and I never even articled.
How it’s Going: But I missed academia. So after 6 years building the company, I got an MEd and then PhD in Education, focusing on complexity theory and the education of interprofessional teams. Now I am a professor at the University of Ottawa. Definitely a different route than many Law graduates.
Sara Ross, BA’07, BCL/LLB’12 – Major in Commercial Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
How it Started: My first job out of law school was a contract position with FedNav International, where I redrafted their ship-repair and ship-management contracts while anxiously awaiting the start of my clerkship at the Federal Court, wondering if I would really become a lawyer or take on the kind of alternative career path I had envisioned when I started law school.
How it’s Going: I never would have believed you if you told me where I would end up—I strongly disliked both writing and public speaking then. However today, as a tenure-track law professor at Dalhousie, I truly enjoy that my career revolves around both of these. My work reflects what was important to me in my fledgling career as an almost grad student in Archaeology, something I left for law school, as I research the intersection of law, culture, and the city—especially issues of displacement, heritage, and cultural property law.
Murray MacDonald, BCL/LLB’85
How it Started: I joined the Ontario prosecution service upon being Called to the Bar, in the spring of 1987.
How it’s Going: I have been with A.G. Ont (Crim Law Div) since then.
I intend to (completely) retire in June of this year. It was a pleasure to work in a variety of contexts, including Crown Attorney, Regional Director of Crown Attorneys and Director of the A. G.’s Aboriginal Justice Strategy. I’d aspired to become a Crown Attorney since 2nd Year. McGill Law provided me with a solid foundation of first principles; helpful throughout my years of practice. Current and prospective students can be confident in the knowledge that McGill Law will – in several contexts – be the best investment they ever make.
My retirement plans: Fish, old-timer hockey and raising retrievers.
Christine and I have two lovely daughters who have successfully launched their chosen professional careers. Fortunate parents indeed!
Stanley Taviss, BA’53, BCL’56
How it Started: I first decided to become a lawyer at age 12; my Father laughed, since we had no money for education. I went to work at age 14 and worked for 10 years at night to be able to go to McGill, graduating at age 24.
How it’s Going: I enjoyed the practice, pleading before every Court in Quebec, many times in the Court of Appeal, and even four times before the Supreme Court ( the first was “Franklin Electrical vs. VuK”, and the last was as co-counsel with the great Philippe de Grandpre in the “Pascal Hardware” case).
Some of my fondest memories include the two years that I lectured on the Law of Sale at McGill, and my years on the committee that made up and marked the Bar exams. At age 90 I am long since retired, and living with my second wife in Vancouver. I was privileged to obtain a great education. I doubt whether the forgoing is of interest, but I was impelled to share with you.
Paul Moen, LLB’93
How it Started: I was excited to study law at McGill as a pathway to a legal career that would enable me to actively participate in politics and public affairs more generally. McGill’s talented teachers, its smart and fun students, and its national as well as global perspectives – taught me that the law indeed permitted a multitude of potential pathways to serve others, whether through business, government and/or the not-for-profit sector. Also, the McGill magic meant that I met my wonderful wife Isabelle Daoust (LLB, BCL ‘96) all those years ago in the halls of Old Chancellor Day Hall.
How it’s Going: Thirty years later, after most of my career in the private sector, I am on my second tour of political service for the Government of Canada as Chief of Staff to the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Jr., Minister of Labour.
Gareth Pyburn, BCL/LLB’01
How it Started: Having just completed graduate studies at the London School of Economics, my aspirations when entering McGill Law’s National Programme were both political and international. I liked McGill’s flexibility and comparative approach, which has been extremely relevant to my legal practice.
How it’s Going: After my first “summer associate” role at a U.S. law firm in Hong Kong, I discovered what proved to be the ultimate base for the duration of my highly international law career. My private practice focused on Asia-Pacific cross-border capital markets and structured finance transactions, which led to my career transition into various in-house counsel roles covering regional derivatives businesses at leading global banks, including Standard Chartered, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and finally HSBC.
At HSBC, my role as Senior Legal Counsel, Asia-Pacific Global Markets (Equities Advisory) positions me at the forefront of cross-border derivatives and also provides fascinating insights into the current geopolitical climate.
Stephen Abrahams, BA’61, BCL’64
How it Started: When I started law school, my ambitions were pretty nebulous. My career path after law school has been quite unique. Immediately after Law School graduation in the Class of 1964 and admission to the Quebec Bar, I joined the Canadian Foreign Service. My first year was spent in the legal department and then I was assigned to be the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister. That led to a posting to the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC. Although my main role was as liaison to the State Department legal department on matters of the law of the sea, I was also made a part of the team coordinating Canada’s entry into the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), more specifically negotiating the legal requirements for entry. The IDB is one of the regional development banks modeled on the World Bank.
How it’s Going: When the time came for me to return to Ottawa and the headquarters of what was then called the Department of External Affairs (now Global Affair), I was invited to join the IDB at its headquarters in Washington, DC in the Legal Department as the Bank’s first Canadian employee. I remained at the Bank for the remainder of my career (30 years), eventually becoming assistant General Counsel, then Capital Markets Director, and ultimately the head of the Office of Institutional Integrity. Thus, while never practicing law in a traditional sense, it was that legal training at McGill that opened all those doors for me. And it doesn’t end there! I am now retired and on the Board of Directors of the IDB Retirees Association, where I chair the Legal and Government Affairs Committee.
Dominic DiFruscio, BCL/LLB’15
How It Started: I have always had a passion for law and politics. Prior to law school, I worked on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where I became interested in contributing to the development of public policy and legislation. J’ai choisi la Faculté de droit de McGill pour son programme unique fondé sur l’étude de diverses traditions juridiques et de l’évolution du droit au Canada et à l’international.
How It’s Going: I am a member of the Québec and Ontario Bars and currently serve as a public policy lawyer and senior advisor in tax policy and legislation at the Department of Finance Canada. My responsibilities include providing advice for the Minister of Finance on proposed federal budget measures. I also represent Canada in negotiations with other countries on the taxation provisions of international treaties.
Isabelle Daoust, BCL/LLB’96
How It Started: I didn’t have much clarity in my twenties about what I wanted to do. Something international? Maybe a diplomat? I graduated from McGill Law School in 1996 (BCL/LLB).
How It’s Going: After articling in a large firm in Montreal, I ended up with the Red Cross for almost twenty years. I was a regional legal adviser in West Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross. I then moved to Headquarters in Geneva to promote the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines, and work on disarmament issues. I also worked in Canada and in the United States to promote Red Cross legal education programs. After a rich career with the Red Cross, I transitioned to the federal public service, with senior roles at the Department of National Defence and Immigration Canada. I am currently the Deputy CEO at the Canadian Bar Association, a national association of lawyers with 37,000 members.