2020-2021 Mtre Véronique Collard

Véronique Collard: the art of putting the right tools in parents’ hands

By Mélanie Dugré, lawyer

(Article published on April 27, 2021)

On May 5, Véronique Collard will receive the Pierre-Fournier Prize for her exceptional contribution to the Bar of Montreal. “I feel touched and honoured to get this award, especially when I think of Pierre Fournier, who swore me in in 1998 and who was a good friend of my mentor, Richard McConomy.” The Pierre-Fournier Prize will be presented to this family law specialist less than a year after the death of her mentor. “Mr. McConomy played a key role in my career; thanks to him, I got to know the team at the Bar of Montreal and discovered the pleasure and happiness that stem from being involved with this organization.”

Véronique Collard took an optional Law class in Grade 11 when the Family Property and Support Act came into effect, which led her to consider a career as a lawyer. She enrolled and studied at Université de Montréal and was called to the Bar in 1998. Finally, she articled at the Montreal Urban Community, where she worked mainly on workers' compensation cases. Initially determined to practice business law, F.S. Liverman, a law generalist and versatile practitioner for whom she had worked as a receptionist during her studies, offered her a partnership opportunity. The Liverman Collard firm was born, and Véronique started a practice mainly focused on family law. Through Mr. Liverman, Véronique Collard's path crossed that of Richard McConomy, who became her mentor and touchstone.

Alongside her career, Véronique started a family, giving birth to daughters in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Life was moving at full speed, and by her own admission, she took her cases very much, sometimes too much, to heart to the point where she wanted to take up new challenges and discover new things. With a friend and business partner, she decided to start a cupcake business, Itsi Bitsi, in 2006, which quickly became very successful. “It was an extremely rewarding experience, but between weddings, celebrations of all kinds and large corporate events, I realized how irregular the hours were and how demanding the projects were.”

During Véronique's foray into the business world, Mr. McConomy never ceased to watch over her with a fatherly eye. In 2010, he convinced her to partner with him and return to the practice of family law in a different way by focusing on mediation.

As a former Montreal Bar President, Richard McConomy had remained involved with the Section and strongly encouraged Véronique to try her hand at it. Embracing the adage “trying it is adopting it,” Véronique has never parted ways with the Bar of Montreal since then. She has contributed to many committees, including Limited Scope, Liaison with the Superior Court (Family Matters) and Unrepresented Parties for the past decade. In 2018, Ms. Collard joined the Salon VISEZ DROIT committee and the Round Table on Participative Justice.

Véronique loves that the committees she sits on at the Bar of Montreal are so diverse. She points out that initiatives such as the Round Table on Participative Justice, Limited Scope and the Salon VISEZ DROIT are focused on litigants, while a committee such as the Liaison with the Superior Court, Family Matters, allows her to understand the system behind the scenes better while promoting mediation to the judiciary.

Since 2012, Véronique has partnered with Catherine Eustace. Since both are autonomous, versatile and self-taught, they do everything themselves, from drafting procedures to serving them, including spiral binding books of authority.

Véronique Collard's affections are divided between mediation and litigation. Always ready for any fight and determined to win when she has to plead in the court, she has also developed an expertise and an affection for mediation, having had the privilege to witness the huge steps that separated couples have made using it. “Some lawyers see mediation as a threat to the profession. I believe that, on the contrary, it's a very effective tool parties can leverage to move forward and agree on the parameters that define what they will always have in common: their children.

As you can see, Véronique Collard's words betray her attachment to a theme that’s dear to her heart: the interests of children. Here we aren’t talking about mercantile interests or convenient ones that come up in conversation, but the true and authentic interests that should be the cornerstone of any parental separation. Véronique is passionate, committed and driven by a sincere desire to help her clients understand all the consequences, especially the psychological ones, of their separation on their children. 

When asked how family law has fared during the pandemic, Ms. Collard says she has seen and heard it all over the past year. And, unfortunately, she’s in a position to confirm the rise in domestic and psychological violence and the disarray of some couples and families. “I have seen too many people who should have gone their separate ways for the good of their families, but who have been forced by the pandemic to stay together in an unhealthy climate.

One thing is sure; couples in distress will always be able to count on Véronique Collard. Passionate about her profession and driven by the desire to help her fellow man – a family value passed on by her parents – she is more than ever interested in helping couples come to terms with their long-standing conflicts. Véronique Collard concludes wisely: “I see these mandates as a great challenge. I have faith in people and in the ability of parents – once they’ve mourned their separation – to refocus on their children, see things from another perspective, have more realistic expectations and build new dreams.”