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Learned Friends

A Tribute to Fifty Remarkable Ontario Advocates, 1950–2000

by (author) Jack Batten

foreword by R. Roy McMurtry

Irwin Law Inc.
Initial publish date
Jun 2005
Legal Profession, Lawyers & Judges, Legal History
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2005
    List Price

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Successfully appealing Evelyn Dick's sensational murder conviction. Defending three men charged with espionage in the wake of Igor Gouzenko's defection. Financing law school on the professional football fields. These are a few examples of the experiences described in Learned Friends, a book that looks at the lives and careers of fifty distinguished Ontario advocates who practised between 1950 and 2000. All were singularly devoted to their calling and shared the characteristics of integrity, diligence, and civility. All proved themselves to be leaders of the bar in their respective communities, and their legacies have shaped the practice of litigation in Ontario.

Until now, much of what we have known about these advocates, and others like them, has come to us through an oral tradition. Those who were fortunate enough to know these advocates have told stories of their successes, failures, habits, and idiosyncrasies to the next generation. But as time has passed, the need for a more durable record has become increasingly apparent.

This beautifully illustrated book has been published as part of The Advocates' Society's Fortieth Anniversary celebrations, as a permanent tribute to talented advocates who are no longer actively litigating or sitting as judges. It acknowledges the significant contributions of remarkable men and women who, in pleading cases in courtrooms across our province, set the standards of excellence to which the current generation of advocates aspires. In so doing, Learned Friends promotes and records the strong and vibrant tradition of advocacy that has long existed in Ontario.

About the authors

Jack Batten practised law in Toronto for four years before turning to a life of writing. He has written for all the major Canadian magazines and is the author of thirty-three books including four crime novels. Five of his nonfiction books dealt with real-life Canadian lawyers, judges, and court cases; a biography of John Robinette was among these books. Batten's books have also dealt with sports, Canadian history, and biography. He has reviewed jazz for The Globe and Mail, movies for CBC radio, and still writes a column on crime fiction for the Toronto Star. His biography of Tom Longboat won the $10,000 Norma Fleck Award for best children's nonfiction in 2002, and the book is being made into a feature film. His most recent book is The Annex: The Story of a Toronto Neighbourhood, published in 2004.

Jack Batten's profile page

The Honourable Roy McMurtry, OC, O.Ont., QC, is currently Chancellor of York University and serves as counsel to Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.

R. Roy McMurtry's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"We meet many remarkable advocates, such as Windsor criminal lawyer, Bernard Cohn who was so successful at finding errors in the Crown's cases that it was said he read the Criminal Code cover to cover once a day. This book allows us a second look at some famous legal figures we may know too little about... Learned Friends is an attractive and well-written book that will appeal to anyone interested in legal history or simply interested in reading a good story about a colleague, mentor, law firm founder or judge. This book would make a worthy addition to law school, law firm or other legal libraries where it may provide inspiration to present and future advocates."

Jeanette Bosschart, Reference and Instructional Services Librarian, Law Society of Upper Canada Great Library

Other titles by Jack Batten

Other titles by R. Roy McMurtry