To find out, Precedent sat down with five of the country’s most respected lawyers and jurists – but before we did, we met separately with the children who followed in their footsteps.
What shines through is less about the law, and more about relationships between children and their parents. As children, they relied on their parents for support. As adults, they support each other — whether it’s Harry McMurtry’s helping hand as he and his father navigate the rocks near their Muskoka cottage, or Julianna Greenspan’s photo-shoot fashion advice for her dad. They are touching portraits of mutual respect, admiration, and family.
Edward L. Greenspan Q.C.
64, father of two
LL.B. Osgoode Hall 1968
Senior Partner, Greenspan Partners
J.D. Northwestern 1997
Partner, Greenspan Partners
Eddie: I could never get work done at home. I am too easily prone to distraction. The office is where I work best.
Julianna: My mom would put me in the car and drive me downtown to dad’s office at night, and we would go out for dinner, often with his friends. A lot of my childhood memories with my dad are in restaurants downtown.
Eddie: If friends wanted to have us for dinner, they had to accept our kids as well. They came everywhere with us. That’s how I got my time with them.
Julianna: My dad doesn’t ask questions. He cross-examines. He can’t help himself. I remember I lost my retainer once, and I had a story of how it had gone missing or disappeared, and he cross-examined the shit out of me. I don’t think I gave in, but afterwards I went to my mother and confessed because he had broken me down.
Eddie: I loved catching her in a prior inconsistent statement. And I needed the practice.
Julianna: He still tries to do it, but I’m not the one-time witness in the courtroom facing Eddie Greenspan. I can handle him now. It drives him nuts.
Madam Justice Alison Harvison Young
55, mother of one
LL.B. & B.C.L. McGill University 1983
Dean of Law, Queen’s University,
Appointed to the Bench 2004
32, only child
J.D. University of Toronto 2001
Ministry of the Attorney General
Miriam: My mom started law school when I was three years old.
Alison: Miriam was always in the background — at the back of the classroom, or tagging along with a study group. My most absorbing first-year course was constitutional law, and she absorbed a lot of it too. She was still taking her blanket with her to daycare, and I tried to convince her that she was too old for that, and she said, ‘I can’t give up my blanket! It’s like my constitution!’
Miriam: Because we were a one-parent household, I think that our relationship took on a spousal dimension in some ways. We were each other’s dinner companions. When I was seven we moved to Ottawa so she could clerk for Justice Estey at the Supreme Court. She would come home exhausted, and I would ask her, ‘Did you have a rough day, mommy? Did your judge yell at you today?’
Alison: The answer was frequently yes. My judge had a blustery manner.
Barry Swadron Q.C.
70, father of three
LL.B. Osgoode Hall 1961
LL.M. Osgoode Hall 1963
Founder and Principal,
LL.B. Osgoode Hall 1987
Barry: I don’t think I was a very good father.
Marshall: It’s fair to say my father wasn’t around much and didn’t talk much about his work, but his commitment to social justice infused our home. Civil libertarianism was the norm I grew up with. It wasn’t until high school that I realized the rest of the world didn’t think the same way. I remember there were some anarchists at my school, and they made a point of sitting during the national anthem. When a teacher tried to physically pull one of them out of their seat, I sat down. I ended up in the vice-principal’s office.
Barry: Once he had a class project to take pictures of the signs of spring. He took pictures of dog poop.
Marshall: The firm, when I joined it, was more general practice. I felt that, if we couldn’t be the best at something, we should scale it back. And I was absolutely attracted to anything that had to do with mental disorder, which had always been an important cause for him.
Barry: I was doing very well before Marshall joined the firm, but my practice has been substantially enriched by his presence. He’s the best legal adviser I ever had.
Hon. Roy McMurtry O.Ont, Q.C.
76, father of six
Graduate, Osgoode Hall, 1958
Attorney General of Ontario, 1975-85
Chief Justice of Ontario, 1994-2007
Counsel, Gowlings LLP
46, third of six
LL.B. Queen’s University, 1989
Partner, Affleck Greene McMurtry LLP
Harry: I didn’t decide to enter law school until after I’d finished my undergraduate degree. For me, the difficulty in choosing law was my father’s reputation. He has reached two pinnacles of the legal profession, neither of which I will likely achieve. That’s why I practised in Kingston for five years after being called to the bar: so I could keep some distance. Aside from some lawyers and court staff, no one in Kingston knew my family name. I felt that I built a practice there based on my competence. That was important to me.
Roy: I’d be the first one to say I had more good luck than good management in my career path, so I don’t feel comfortable about this idea that I’ve cast a long shadow. But that’s not my judgment to make.
Harry: There’s no point in wishing that he were less successful just so I could feel better about myself. I celebrate his achievements. And once I decided to become a lawyer, I discovered two things. One, the profession truly suited me. Two, my father makes a great mentor.
Roy: I worry about his cases probably more than he does. I live vicariously through him now.
Graham Scott C.M., Q.C.
65, father of two
LL.B. Western Ontario 1966
Counsel & former Managing Partner, McMillan LLP
J.D. University of Toronto 2002
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Gillian: I remember going down to my dad’s house with a friend to get our bar applications notarized. He looked at my papers and said, ‘Where’s your birth certificate?’ And I said, ‘Dad, you were there!’ But he refused. I had to drive home and get my birth certificate and bring it back. I was very irritated, but I saw the point.
Graham: I have no recollection of that. But I do remember the time she threw a party while we were away in Montreal.
Gillian: I was in grade 13, and I decided to have the biggest party ever. About 350 people showed up.
Graham: We call it the three-cruiser party.
Gillian: I had taken all the pictures off the walls and drawn a chart so I knew where to put them back. I locked some doors from the inside. I rented steam cleaners. But there were some things I couldn’t hide, like the cigarette burns on the carpet.
Graham: Or the paint that had come off the doors. She made what I would call a reasonable effort to protect the house. We grounded her for three weeks, but I don’t think we enforced it.
Gillian: I don’t remember being grounded. But I did have to pay a fine for damages.
Photography by Vanessa Heins