50 years and counting for Ottawa’s largest independent law firm

A milestone that’s been built one relationship at a time
Megan Wallace
Megan Wallace is a partner at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l.

“You can’t live and work in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario without encountering the tangible and living results and examples of our work.”

Anthony McGlynn – co-chair and partner with Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. – wrote those words earlier this year to mark the law firm’s 50th anniversary. 

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall has been there through every step of the evolution of the local business community, in good times and bad, since 1971. The firm has employed thousands of people, trained hundreds of articling students and lawyers, and had a significant economic impact by providing high-quality legal services and advice. 

It’s not just a point of pride for the law firm, but also a feather in the cap for Ottawa, that Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall endures as the city’s largest local independent law firm.

Local matters

“That distinction matters because it demonstrates that we are of, and from, Ottawa,” said Megan Wallace, a partner at the firm and head of its not-for-profit and charity law group. “We are tied into the community and that impacts how we practice. I work with a team that truly cares for the work we do and about our client relationships.”

“We are tied into the community and that impacts how we practice.”

That emphasis on delivering quality work and putting client needs first harkens back to the values of the founding partners.

“Four people created something that today has 50 lawyers and more than 60 professional staff,” Wallace said. “That growth has come because we have never lost their vision to be a firm that is engaged with the community, where everyone is held to the same standard of quality. Many people miss the point that the practice of law is a service industry – doing what is in the best interests of the client and delivering what they need, when they need it.”

CANARIE is one client that has benefited from this dedicated service focus since its founding in 1993.

Keeping innovators connected

CANARIE is not your typical not-for-profit entity. With most of its funding coming from the Government of Canada, CANARIE operates the national backbone network of Canada's National Research and Education Network (NREN). This ultra-high-speed network connects Canada’s researchers, educators and innovators to each other and to other colleagues and data in 100 countries.

Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall was there right from the start, when McGlynn drafted CANARIE’s original bylaws. In the decades since, the law firm has supported all aspects of CANARIE’s operations and growth, which touches on governance, training for board directors, labour and employment law, immigration law, contracts and trademarks.

CANARIE’s mandate to enable research and collaboration across Canada and around the world is more important than ever, given the unprecedented scale of global research collaborations we’re seeing today, said chief financial officer Nancy Carter.

Timeless values

“Every time we turn around, something new comes up and my learned defence is to pick up the phone and consult with Perley-Robertson,” Carter said. “They understand the nuances of our organization and all our operational history. We draw on that institutional knowledge to support practically everything that we do, both domestically and internationally.”

Connect

In Carter’s view, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall continues to be a law firm of choice for a rapidly changing world because it has remained true to its roots.

“It’s the attention to detail, and the attention to service,” Carter said. “The firm meets the needs of its clients and continues to adapt so that it remains relevant to the community.”

In fact, it was the mentorship of the law firm’s team that inspired Carter to head back to school part-time and earn her own law degree.

As a lawyer who is also a mom, Wallace can attest that this warm and supportive mindset is just as common within the firm as it is with its client relationships.

“Fifty years is just such a substantial milestone,” she said. “I am so incredibly proud of the environment that we have here, the work that we do and the impact that we have. It makes you grateful for the founders’ vision.”