Alexander P. Watt, Cates Carroll Watt, Kamloops
"We write to provide the most sincere praise of the efforts and quality of work provided to our firm by Marie-France Major. She acted as our S.C.C. agent and in our opinion, made our appeal extraordinary. Her insightful and highly relevant comments, both of a technical and also of a substantive nature, speaks volumes about her abilities. In our opinion, Ms. Major is an inspiration as she is both highly academic and intellectual, but also very approachable, pleasant and a pleasure to work with. We would never consider bringing another appeal to the S.C.C. without her assistance. Her work with us is beyond exemplary. We unfortunately cannot find the words to express our gratitude and admiration for Ms. Major.
We cannot say enough to do justice to Ms. Major’s abilities and hope that this letter only serves to reinforce what we are sure you are already aware of, that she is a brilliant lawyer that is truly an inspiration to us all."
Voicemail from D. Smith, Toronto, Ontario
"Eugene, it's D. Smith calling from MacDonald and Partners in Toronto. We just wanted to thank you again for all of the wonderful help that you gave us. I can tell you that without a doubt the time that we spent with you and Marie-France significantly helped our first-time team, and we felt very confident going into the Supreme Court.
We felt like we had a great understanding of what the Court would be doing, and what would be expected of us and it was of tremendous help to us and we very much appreciate it. The appeal was phenomenal, we had a great time arguing it.
And again our many thanks and please do pass on our kind thoughts as well to Marie-France and your entire elite team, we very much appreciate everyone's help. Thanks so very much."
Letter by John W. Montgomery
Johnston Montgomery, Whitby, Ontario:
"Your help on this has been invaluable. Though I did the writing – which I wanted to do – your incisive strategic recommendations and amendments gave me the crucial confidence that I needed to have an understanding of the process and the players and that I was going in the right direction. Also, your logistical help – with technical compliance, binding, serving and filing – took a load off my mind. Thanks again for your practical and professional assistance."
Email by John D. Townsend, Q.C.
Cox & Palmer, Fredericton, New Brunswick:
"Your professional and prompt advice is appreciated - you guys remind me of the Pro Golf Tour ad - THESE GUYS ARE GOOD!"
Letter by Donald McLean, of Zimmerman Lawyers, Hamilton Ontario,
sending two accounts to client representative:
As I understand it, the process began by Ms. Major, working essentially on her own pulling out the relevant facts from the documentation supplied. This involved determining what was brought home to our insureds and reviewing the insurance policies. By working on her own at the outset, a considerable saving was achieved, inasmuch as there was no consultation with us, and, I assume – at least insofar as one was dealing with the relevant facts – there was minimal consultation with Mr. Meehan, Q.C. Ms. Major did a remarkable job in this regard, because it was apparent from the very first draft that she made an incisive analysis of what was relevant and what was not. The other advantage of all of this was that no matter how much input we provided, the case was only going to properly proceed if Lang Michener themselves had a very clear idea of what had occurred and what legal arguments were required. In some measure, this explains why Ms. Major had many more hours on the file. They were clearly very well spent. For, above everything else, she realized that this case was going to turn on the meaning of the word "claim". I can't tell you how refreshing it was to see that she had grasped this issue so clearly and so decisively.
Then what appears to have happened is that Mr. Meehan and Ms. Major worked together at putting together the first draft of the leave to appeal application. Mr. Meehan was of invaluable assistance, inasmuch as he supplied the most important ingredient of all to the leave application, namely the overall direction of how the argument should be framed. Mr. Montigny of our office provided some helpful insights regarding the national importance argument, but ultimately it was Mr. Meehan who was responsible for drafting the leave to appeal application in such a way as to get the judges' attention. My own view is that his deliberately outrageous comments are a refreshing change to the often usual boring legal arguments judges have to read every day. Moreover, it was even more refreshing not to have to read in every paragraph "It is respectfully submitted that…." or words to that effect.
I don't doubt for a moment that there were 17 drafts of the leave to appeal application. But emotionally, there were only three. When we received the first draft, it was immediately apparent that Mr. Meehan and Ms. Major had demonstrated, without any input from us whatsoever, a remarkable grasp of the main issues. Instantly it became apparent that we were all on the same page. We responded to the first draft on or about December 28-30, 2004. In that response, we assisted in rewriting one of the fundamental questions, provided some assistance on some factual matters, urged that the paragraph on discoverability be rewritten, and in a follow up, made a comparison between our facts and Reid Crowther.
I can recall getting an email from Eugene saying they were considering our response. What emerged in draft two was virtually an entire new argument. The new argument was extremely well done. We responded to draft two on or about January 3-4, 2005. Time was running out, so there was little time to waste. In our second response, we focused in on the nature of our insurance argument, and in particular, how unique it was. We attempted to narrow the issues between the parties. There was a problem with the Table which needed to addressed. And this time, we actually had a few comments on wording of the draft.
But it was when we received draft three that we really got excited. I can recall sending an email describing this draft as seizing our argument by the throat and polishing it up so that it shone like the rays of the sun. That's how draft three felt. We enthusiastically responded to this third draft on or about January 8, 2005. In particular, the other fundamental question had to be redrafted, to conform, as it turned out, to one of the paragraphs already in the body of the draft. Since this was our last real input into the document, in this response we did concentrate on the wording more than previously.
Thereafter, there were indeed numerous drafts, all mostly of a housekeeping nature. I am sure there were quite a few minor drafts at the end. But in essence, there were really 3 drafts, each quite distinct from one another.
In conclusion, to repeat, I cannot tell how what a pleasure it was for us to have had the opportunity to work with Eugene Meehan, Q.C. and Marie-France Major. I cannot recall an instance in all my years as a lawyer where I felt more in sync with another law firm.
Robert M. Curtis,
Q.C., McCuaig Desrochers, Edmonton, Alberta:
"I want to express my thanks and give a hearty endorsement of your Supreme Court Newsletter.
In 30 years of practice I have never received a "free" tool of this caliber. In fact, I've never seen anything I could pay for that services the need of a practicing barrister quite so well. All our digests, on-line services and various legal publication services have required that I actually take the time out of my day to actively research a problem. They are, as a group, quite useful publications in their own right, and I mean no criticism of them. I think researching law is becoming even easier, while at the same time there as so many decisions to plod through. But the sad fact remains that when you have a busy practice you simply have little time to efficiently "read the law". Often the result is the most research is passed to a junior practitioner, and we "old farts" seem to learn less and less of how the law is evolving. Until now, most of my information on current cases has come from the regular media, with its inherent limitations.
Your service, on the other hand, is one that is "pushed-out". It comes directly to me each week in an easy to read format. In a few minutes, I can file away in the "little grey matter" snippets on current law in diverse areas and then conveniently put it away in a research folder on my desk. Since your service started, I have sometimes taken a few moments and simply felt more up-to-date. But on the majority of times I have, like I did this morning, clipped out a piece to give to an associate for follow-up because the decision has impacted on a current case of mine.
I like your clean organization and concise explanations, and encourage you to keep it that way. If it got more voluminous, as a bow to fuller content, it could become less useful to practitioners like me. I LIKE IT THE WAY IT IS!
I will, of course, choose you and your firm any time I need a SCC agent. You've clearly shown competence and understanding of what guys like me need."
Extract from letter by Ray C. Rutman
Ray C. Rutman, Milner Fenerty, Edmonton, Alberta:
"I have for the past year had the pleasure of working with Mr. Meehan on the above file. Mr. Meehan has been my Ottawa agent at the Supreme Court. I cannot speak too highly of the effort and ability that Mr. Meehan brought to the case. His knowledge of Supreme Court practice and procedure both official and unofficial is nothing short of extraordinary. His suggestions respecting substantive law and elements of advocacy were most helpful throughout.
I have never written a letter such as this respecting another counsel, however I did not feel it appropriate to let Mr. Meehan's efforts go unacknowledged. I am very grateful to Mr. Meehan personally and I have recommended his services to all members of our firm who appear before the Supreme Court."