Heenan Blaikie
320 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 Oct 2024

Heenan Blaikie

The Making and Unmaking of a Great Canadian Law Firm

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

In 1973, three idealistic young lawyers in Montreal established Heenan Blaikie. It would become one of Canada’s highest-profile law firms, counting former prime ministers, premiers, cabinet ministers, and Supreme Court justices in its ranks. It was like a family, according to many who worked there. But it was a dysfunctional family. In 2014, the firm’s dramatic collapse became front-page news.

Heenan Blaikie is the fascinating story of a respected law firm that buckled under weak governance and management. Adam Dodek, an unbiased outsider, analyzes the origins, evolution, and demise of the firm. Heenan Blaikie seemed to punch above its weight: bilingual, humane, national with international aspirations. But just underneath its unique culture as a kinder, gentler law firm, as revealed by the author’s extensive interviews with firm lawyers and legal industry insiders, lay workplace bullying, challenges for women and visible minority lawyers, and sexual harassment.

Dodek astutely situates the firm’s rise and fall within the context of events of the time: the 1970s oil shock, Quebec separatism, the flight of business from Montreal to Toronto, economic expansion from the 1980s to early 2000s, and the 2008 financial crisis. Heenan Blaikie is a meticulous account that is gripping from beginning to end.

This lively investigation of the forces that shape law firm culture is a must-read for lawyers and law students, businesspeople, managers, members of the judiciary, and others intrigued by the whys and hows of corporate collapse.

RELATED TOPICS: Law, Legal History
I had trouble putting Adam Dodek’s book down. It is a compelling and informative read, probably the first of its kind to carefully document and critically analyze the evolution of a law firm from its origin to its eventual collapse. Robert Lapper, KC, Professor – David and Dorothy Lam Chair, Law and Public Policy, University of Victoria
Dodek has written a very lively and readable book, full of large and colourful personalities, pithy quotations, and dramatic incident. But it does not just tell a fascinating and somewhat tragic story – it is also full of analysis of the deficiencies of governance and management that were longstanding at Heenan Blaikie but that became especially problematic after the mushroom growth of the firm in the 1990s and later. Philip Girard, professor, Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Adam Dodek is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. Among his numerous publications are In Search of the Ethical Lawyer, The Canadian Constitution, Third Edition, named by the Hill Times as one of the top 100 books on Canadian public policy, and Solicitor–Client Privilege, which won the Walter Owen Book Prize. He is a recipient of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Prize for Academic Excellence, the Mundell Medal for excellence in legal writing, and the Law Society of Ontario’s Law Society Medal. He is also a director of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics and the Canadian Legal Information Institute, and a past governor of the Law Commission of Ontario.

Find what you’re looking for...
Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Free shipping on online orders over $40

Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.