A Fireside Chat With P. Jeremy Bolger

 
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P. Jeremy Bolger is Senior Counsel in BLG's Montréal office and one of the leading Canadian practitioners in maritime law. He represents clients in significant commercial and litigation matters, and has watched the industry evolve since his start in law in 1979. Yves Faguy, an independent journalist, sat down with Jeremy to discuss how the practice of maritime law has changed, where the industry is headed, and the skills that practitioners in the field will need to succeed in the years ahead.

YF: What attracted you at first to a maritime law practice?

PJB: After law school in Ottawa, I came to Montréal, took the bar courses and went to work at McMaster Meighen. I worked in financial services for the patriarch of the firm at the time, Ross McMaster. But occasionally, I was asked to assist in the maritime department which I thoroughly enjoyed. For one, it got me out of the office. It seemed that there were all kinds of investigations being conducted - onboard investigations, ship fires, loss of life, collisions. There was a fair amount of travel involved, which I always enjoyed. Also, I found it significantly more interesting than financial work. Fortunately I had had exposure to and knew the shipping industry. Among other jobs which I held, I had also worked for a ship repair company, J. & R. Weir Ltd., in the summer time during my university studies. My father was a sea captain who came to this country at the end of the Second World War from Ireland. I had grown up with the lingo so to speak. As children, we didn't refer to a wall as a wall but rather it was a bulkhead. The ceiling was the deckhead. When my father was driving the car we'd say, "Watch the guy who's off to starboard there!" - that type of thing. So I could go aboard a ship and although I was inexperienced, somehow there was greater acceptance of me because I appeared to know what I was talking about.

YF: What were some of the early cases that stood out for you?

PJB: There were some extremely interesting cases. I never finished Christmas dinner one year because Sean Harrington - now a judge at the Federal Court - rang me with an urgent matter. We both jumped on a private jet and flew to Matane because of a very tragic incident. Halco Inc. was the name of the ship owning company. One of its vessels, the Hudson Transport, was on fire - and several lives were tragically lost. Sean and I also worked on the Mekhanik Tarasov casualty. This Soviet ship sank the day after the Ocean...

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