Founding of Dupré & Gagnon in Québec City – 1913
In 1913, two young lawyers both aged 25, Maurice Dupré and Onésime Gagnon, found the firm of Dupré & Gagnon in Québec City. They both go into federal politics in 1930. Their second career is so demanding that, in 1931, they hire another experienced lawyer, Valmore de Billy, to help run the firm. In the following years, De Billy plays a key role in the Desjardins Movement, particularly in the creation of the Société d’assurance des caisses populaires, in 1944, and Assurance-vie Desjardins, in 1948.
Sadly, Maurice Dupré dies tragically in a train derailment in 1941. As for Onésime Gagnon, he goes on to have a remarkable career in provincial politics in the government of premier Maurice Duplessis. From 1936 to 1956, he is elected, without interruption, as the member for the riding of Matane, accumulating a total of six consecutive mandates. During this time, he holds several ministerial portfolios, including provincial Treasurer, from 1944 to 1951, and Finance Minister, from 1951 – when the provincial Treasury becomes the Ministry of Finance – to 1958. In the same year, he is appointed as Lieutenant Governor of Québec.
In 1945, Valmore de Billy urges his son Jacques, who is in England at the time as an officer in the Canadian Army, to return to Canada in order to help him with the firm after the war. The arrival of Jacques de Billy gives the firm a sustained boost, especially in insurance law. Over the years, the members of two large families of lawyers, i.e. the Gagnons (Onésime, his sons André and Claude, and Claude’s son, Pierre-C.) and the de Billys (Valmore and his sons Jacques and Gilles), among others, practise in succession with the firm.
Arrival of John L. O'Brien at Audette & Lorrain in Montréal – 1927
In 1927, John L. O’Brien, a young lawyer aged 28, of Irish origin, joins the firm of Audette & Lorrain, founded the year before in Montréal. After the two founders leave, O’Brien has such an enduring impact on the firm's development that, for nearly 65 years from 1927 to 1991, his name remains an integral part of the firm name. With his connections in the business sector, he succeeds in building an impressive commercial clientele, including such prestigious names as Canadian Pacific, Bell Canada and Reader’s Digest.
Over time, under John O’Brien's astute leadership, the firm recruits a number of highly talented lawyers capable of consistently meeting clients' expectations with their extensive knowledge of the law and remarkable skills as litigators. Several of these lawyers are subsequently appointed to the judiciary at various levels of the justice system, notably the Superior Court of Québec, the Québec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Founding of Tansey, de Grandpré & de Grandpré in Montréal – 1949
In 1949, Harold Tansey, Louis-Philippe de Grandpré and A. Jean de Grandpré found the firm of Tansey, de Grandpré & de Grandpré, which, historically speaking, is the second Montréal branch of Lavery. The firm specializes in insurance, particularly auto insurance, while not restricting itself to this sector. Clients flock to the firm. This phenomenon is not only attributable to the quality of the lawyers practising there and the quality of their services, but the fact that the firm’s three founding members are a perfect professional match for each other.
Thus, Louis-Philippe de Grandpré enjoys a formidable reputation as a jurist, later earning himself an appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. Harold Tansey is an outstanding litigator with an engaging personality that enables him to excel in the context of jury trials in civil cases. As for Jean de Grandpré, he has a more general practice including business law and some labour law. In 1966, Jean de Grandpré leaves the firm to join Bell Canada as the head of its legal department. In the same year, the firm recruits Claude Lavery, who subsequently develops the firm’s enviable reputation in labour law.
Merger of the firm’s two Montréal branches to create Lavery, O'Brien – 1979
In 1979, the firm’s two Montréal branches merge, creating Lavery, O’Brien. This business decision proves beneficial for both parties. The merger allows the new firm to consolidate its areas of practice, particularly in business law, insurance law and labour law.
Apart from those sectors, the firm also makes a name for itself in other areas for the benefit of its clients. Thus, in the 1980’s, Michel Yergeau founds the firm's environmental law group, making Lavery, O’Brien the first law firm with such a practice in Canada. Also, during the same decade, Raymond Doray contributes to the development of a new practice: the right to information and the protection of personal information. In addition, the firm’s well-established practice in insurance law is diversified to include new areas such as manufacture’s, professional and medical liability.
Merger of Lavery, O'Brien in Montréal with Gagnon, de Billy, Cantin, Beaudoin, Lesage & Associates in Québec City – 1991
In 1991, Lavery, O’Brien, in Montréal, merges with the firm of Gagnon, de Billy, Cantin, Beaudoin, Lesage & Associates in Québec City. This historic transaction is negotiated with aplomb by André Laurin and Robert W. Mason for the Montréal offices and by Pierre Beaudoin and Pierre Cantin for the Québec City offices.
The Montréal-Québec City merger in 1991 is a natural fit. Indeed, the two firms’ have much in common, since both have significant business, insurance and labour law practices. Both firms’ management structures are similar and their firm cultures are comparable. Both firms also have top-notch jurists and litigators who are highly educated and respected by the courts and the legal system as a whole. For the Montréal component, the merger gives the new firm of Lavery, de Billy a strong presence in the old capital of Québec City and in eastern Québec, and enhances its appeal to the government sector. For the Québec City component, the merger is an opportunity to expand its reach and exposure to the rest of Canada and elsewhere in the world, as well as the range of legal services offered to its clients.
34 lawyers and 60 staff members from the Montréal offices of Desjardins Ducharme join Lavery – 2007
In October 2007, 34 lawyers and about 60 staff members from the Montréal offices of the firm of Desjardins Ducharme join Lavery. This reinforces the firm’s practice sectors in commercial litigation and business law. The simultaneous integration of nearly 100 people creates significant logistical difficulties that are, however, swiftly and skilfully resolved by the directors of the firm’s various administrative services and their staff.
This major transaction is negotiated by Rick Dolan, Élise Poisson and Jean-François Hotte for Lavery, and by André Vautour, Gérard Coulombe and Jean Legault for Desjardins Ducharme. The combination in 2007 represents a further step in the strategic shift undertaken by Lavery in the early 2000’s to strengthen its business law practice so as to take full advantage of the opportunities available in Canada and around the world. The firm is now in a better position to carry out various transactional mandates, particularly in mergers and acquisitions, securities law and private placements.
100 lawyers, notaries and staff members from Heenan Blaikie join Lavery – 2014
In March 2014, 45 lawyers and about 50 notaries and staff from the Montréal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières offices of the firm of Heenan Blaikie join Lavery.
The arrival of these professionals contributes to making Lavery the top-ranked regional firm in Québec and strengthens its position as a leader of the business community both inside and outside Québec, particularly in the key practice areas of business law, labour and employment law, and litigation.
40 professionals from Goudreau Gage Dubuc (GGD), one of the largest intellectual property firms in Canada, join Lavery – 2018
This combination, in 2018, consolidates the multidisciplinary approach of Lavery – the largest independent law firm in Québec – by merging the firm's high-quality legal services with the expertise of GGD's lawyers and patent and trademark agents dedicated to intellectual property law. Thus, Lavery continues to pursue its growth and further strengthens its reputation as one of the most respected legal teams in the country.