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McCarthy Tetrault founder dies at age 89

Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 3:42 PM | By John Chunn


McCarthy Tétrault announced the passing of Jacques Tétrault, founding partner of the firm, on Nov. 11 in Montréal at the age of 89.

Tétrault was critical in the historic transformation that the law profession has undergone since the late 1960s. Forerunner of a modern era, Tétrault was one of the people who challenged the rules of compensation based on length of service and campaigned to hire lawyers from varying cultural and religious backgrounds. As counsel and mentor to staff and firm members in Québec and beyond, he was a fair and principled leader who was among the first to champion the rights of women partners and promote diversity and work-life balance.

“McCarthy Tétrault was founded by pioneers, who were not afraid to innovate as they constantly adapted to new conditions,” said Dave Leonard, chief executive officer of McCarthy Tétrault. “At the end of the ’80s, when Canadian law still did not allow for the existence of true national firms, Jacques Tétrault knew that for the firm to thrive and reach its full potential, it would have to become a Canada-wide organization. His dream for McCarthy Tétrault became the standard, the precedent that everyone else followed.”

“Jacques Tétrault was one of the master builders of our firm, first in Québec with the merger of Montréal firm Clarkson Tétrault and Québec City firm Drouin et associés in 1985,” said Karl Tabbakh, McCarthy Tétrault regional managing prtner for Québec. “Then, he was one of the architects of the merger between Clarkson Tétrault and McCarthy & McCarthy, of which the numerous stages required the approval of the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1990, this historic merger gave birth to the first major Canadian law firm, McCarthy Tétrault.”

After completing his law studies at McGill University, Tétrault was called to the Québec bar in 1953. A high-calibre lawyer with a sixth sense for developing precise, effective and powerful arguments, Tétrault focused his practice on commercial law, securities and tax law, which he also taught at McGill. His mastery of the law, combined with his impressive interpretation skills, made him a formidable lawyer with an enviable reputation across the country.