Mtre Ian Solloway
Mtre Ian Solloway: The Gentleman Lawyer
By Mélanie Dugré, lawyer
(Article published on April 8, 2015)
What first sets Mtre Ian Solloway apart are his sensitivity, thoughtfulness, kindness and dedication. The respectful and considerate ways of this experienced lawyer and accomplished litigator make him the very soul of professional courtesy. It is therefore not surprising that the Council of the Bar of Montreal, following consultation with the Awards Committee and the Conference of former Bâtonniers, has decided to award the 2015 Merit of the Bar of Montreal to Mtre Solloway in order to highlight his exceptional contribution to the work of the Bar of Montreal.
Bâtonnier Greg Moore had nothing but praise for the recipient of the Merit, adding that “as the President of the English-Speaking Section of the Bar of Montreal for the past seven years, Mtre Ian Solloway has given the group new energy, with an ever-growing number of Anglophones participating in the committees and activities of the Bar and its Council.”
Mtre Solloway was drawn to law through his natural interest in history and politics, disciplines in which he graduated with honours from McGill University prior to pursuing his law degree. Admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 1975, he started out his practice in general civil law, but quickly narrowed the field to family law. He explains it this way: “I’ve always had a predilection for family law, no doubt influenced by my future wife at the time, who during my first year of practice was completing her Master’s thesis in Social Work on marriage preparation courses.”
Having developed a high degree of expertise in family law, he was consulted by government over the years for certain legislative reforms, in particular the proposed overhaul of the Divorce Act in 1998. Between 1993 and 1996, he taught family law at McGill University and was invited to speak at more than 75 conferences on the subject, while also being responsible for the newsletter Family Law Matters. In 1992, he was elected Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML), an organization that showcases the expertise of family law counsel around the world.
The human aspect of family law is what inspires Mtre Solloway. “Divorce is one of the most traumatic events in the life of an individual. The client is seeking the professional assistance of his/her lawyer in the dismantling and reconstitution of the family unit, which will have lasting, life-changing effects not only financially, but also emotionally and psychologically on the client and his/her children, if any. This presents, at one and the same time, both an enormous challenge and responsibility for the lawyer,” he points out.
As an English-speaking Montrealer, Mtre Solloway’s track record shows he was appointed and then reappointed, three times in all, a member of the Commission d’appel sur la langue d’enseignement (CALE) administrative tribunal by the Montreal Jewish community and the Quebec government, to hear appeals concerning the right to an English-language education under the Charter of the French Language. During his three terms of office at the CALE, Mtre Solloway helped to draw up more than 650 decisions.
Committed to becoming involved in his profession and in various bar committees, Mtre Solloway was a member of the Disciplinary Committee of the Barreau du Québec from 1993 to 1997, and sat on the Liaison Committee with the Superior Court, Family Matters between 1998 and 2001, and then again between 2004 and 2007. He is also a member of the Association des avocats et avocates en droit familial and has been an active participant in the family law sections of Canadian and U.S. bar associations for more than 30 years, as well as in The Lord Reading Law Society for 38 years, of which he was President in 2002-2003. While acting in such capacity in 2002, he managed to convince the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, to deliver the Society’s address celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Between 2009 and 2015, Mtre Solloway set a precedent by presiding over the English-Speaking Section of the Bar of Montreal for six consecutive terms of office. Its achievements during this period include the creation in 2009 of the “Trial Practice Do’s and Don’ts: Hot Tips from the Experts” Conference, which is now held annually and is one of the most widely-attended events within the Bar. In 2011, Mtre Solloway was invited by the Bâtonnier of the Bar of Montreal to join the organizing committee of The World City Bar Leaders Conference, bringing together the presidents of 25 bars in the largest cities in the world. In 2013, he created the first award to be presented in the history of the English-Speaking Section of the Bar of Montreal, the Lifetime Achievement Award, of which Mtre J. Vincent O’Donnell was the first recipient. In 2014, The Lord Reading Law Society awarded Mtre Solloway its highest distinction, the Past Presidents’ Medal, to highlight the excellence achieved in his profession, his embodiment of the highest ethical standards and his exceptional contribution to the community.
A number of social and humanitarian causes are dear to Mtre Solloway. In the past 25 years, he has stood out through his continued and sustained involvement in the Jewish community, acting as a governor or member of the boards of directors of various organizations. He is very active in the Shaare Zion Congregation, where he co-chairs the regulations committee, and produced a video to mark the Congregation’s 75th anniversary, revising the text of its constitution and holding the position of Vice-President between 2002 and 2005. But his experience as a mentor is still what gives him the greatest satisfaction. “Hearing years later that what I may have said or how I may have influenced or impacted an individual’s career decision or path in a positive fashion is something one never forgets,” he says.
Bâtonnier Greg Moore also mentioned that he was frankly impressed by Mtre Solloway’s drive and determination in lobbying over the years to finally succeed in eliminating the Journal du Barreau’s former policy on prohibiting the publication of texts in English. With equal enthusiasm, Mtre Solloway recruited volunteers, and as a result of an entire team’s work and efforts, they suggested corrections to the English version of the new Code of Civil Procedure, which inspired similar work on the new Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers, allowing certain ambiguities found in both versions of the texts to be corrected.
Regarding his involvement in the Bar of Montreal, Mtre Solloway states: “As a result of my involvement in the Montreal Bar, I have a far greater understanding of how fortunate we are as lawyers to be able to practice our wonderful profession in a wonderfully unique and diverse world city that is Montreal and in a legal community that is unlike any other. I am truly proud to say that the English-Speaking Section, which I have been privileged to chair for the past six years, is now recognized as an active, major, respected participant in the Montreal legal community and the embodiment of our Montreal Bar’s uniqueness and the diversity that it represents.”
Mtre Solloway’s career path bears witness to his keen interest in the community and the advancement of law, while also bringing to light the kind-hearted family man that he is. In fact, Mtre Solloway could not be happier because on March 18, he just welcomed his first grandchild, a little girl named Emma. She is her grandfather’s pride and joy, and gives him faith in the future and the strong family values in which he so firmly believes. This gentleman lawyer excels in every area of his professional life, both in the terms of office that he has completed as well as through his contribution to the legal profession and the community. Far from waning, his star will certainly continue to shine for a long time in the practice of our profession.