Mtre Peter Kirby
Mtre Peter Kirby: A man with a thousand stories to tell
By Christine Aubé-Gagnon, lawyer
(Article issued on November 17, 2015)
Mtre Peter Kirby’s life journey is made up of many amazing stories.
The story of a young man
A brief look at his early years: Born in Ireland, then taken by his family to England. Headed out first to the U.S. and then to Canada. In Montreal, not speaking a word of French at the time, Peter Kirby first cleaned tables and then “graduated to wheelman, the cook who calls out the orders and cajoles everyone else so the plates for a particular table all hit the window at the same time.” Then he successively graduated to become a brilliant lawyer, and then a much-lauded storyteller and author.
The story of a lawyer recognized by his fellow lawyers
In Montreal, his adventure started at Concordia University, where he entered into a mature student program so that he could take night courses… provided that his academic performance was adequate, which it obviously was.
First he was particularly interested in history and English, but especially economics. However, despite his keen interest, applied mathematics proved not to be his cup of tea. To be able to study economics without mathematics, he turned to law. After Concordia University (B.A. (Hons), Economics, 1979), he registered for law at McGill University (B.C.L., 1983). Understanding certain elements of law in French turned out to be tedious. So, instead of staying in Montreal to remedy this tiny shortcoming, he opted for France and enrolled at Université Montpellier I (D.E.A., International Law, 1984). He then returned to McGill to round out his studies (LL.B., 1985).
Combining economics and law is what he has been doing from his articling days until today: first with Gottlieb & Pearson (during his articles, and as a lawyer and partner), then with Fasken Martineau (formerly Martineau Walker) since 1997, where he consolidated his practice. This practice was not exactly typical and has been described as covering “the spectrum of issues that arise when goods and services are traded across borders, including trade and regulatory compliance issues, trade agreements, trade remedies such as… international commercial arbitration and investor-state arbitration, customs law and export and import controls.” For instance, since 1986, he has acted as counsel in over 40 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations: from his first case involving charcoal briquettes from the U.S. in 1986 to aluminium extrusions from China in 2015.
For the purposes of his international practice, Mtre Kirby was called to four bars: first the Barreau du Québec (1986), followed by the Ontario Bar Association the following year (1987), and then the Massachusetts Bar Association (1994) and the New York Bar Association (1995).
Mtre Kirby’s awards are much too numerous to list them all, not to mention that he is not partial to expounding on the subject of the various accolades he has received. Suffice it to say, as an example, that he is recognized by the Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada as the “Most frequently recommended” in the area of international trade regulation, was ranked by Benchmark Canada as a “national litigation star” in international arbitration, and was recognized as one of Canada’s best International Trade and Finance Law lawyers by The Best Lawyers in Canada (2006-2016 editions).
The story of a writer lauded by his critics
Peter Kirby has been writing fiction since he left school, but once out of school, raising a family and building a practice left him little time. “The sock-drawer filled up with unfinished pieces. I figured writing legal briefs was close enough to writing fiction. But it wasn’t. It still isn’t.”
In recent years, with his practice obviously firmly entrenched, he has been able to devote more time to writing. So much so that in October 2012, 2013 and 2015, he successively launched three books about the adventures of a sleuth figure that he created, Inspector Luc Vanier, who evolves throughout the pages of his books in the many corners of modern-day Montreal.
Peter Kirby has received rave reviews, and his first book made the “Best First Crime Novel” Shortlist of the Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Personally, I just love his books, which are so captivating, original and realistic.
Take note: The first two chapters of the third book are available free of charge at <peterkirby.ca/open-season-a-luc-vanier-crime-novel-by-peter-kirby>. A lawyer is an important witness in this book about kidnapping and human trafficking.
Mtre Kirby’s career in law has definitely achieved pinnacles of success… and there is every indication that his future as an author will be just as bright.