In 1885, two young lawyers, Messrs Albert Atwater and Alexander Cross, entered into a partnership and the law firm that would eventually be known as Brisset Bishop was born. With Montreal’s location and role as an important, well-established port city, maritime law became the focus of the new firm’s practice, and its location on the former Saint James Street proved to be ideal.
In 1892, Mr. Atwater was appointed a Crown Prosecutor for Montreal, and for a short period of time was a member of the Quebec legislature and a cabinet minister in the Conservative government in Quebec, until its defeat in 1897. Yet it was the principal activity of Mr. Atwater, namely the practice of admiralty law, which would have an enduring effect on the firm, particularly in his involvement in the Storstad/Empress of Ireland collision case.
In 1913 a partner in the firm, William Bond, was appointed one of three executors of the Estate of the Seventh Baron de Longueuil. This is one of only three Canadian hereditary titles, created in 1700 by King Louis XIV of France and recognized by Queen Victoria in 1880. The file was not a quick turn-over and the role of executor was assumed, in turn, by three generations of the firm’s senior partners, William Bond, Lucien Beauregard and Jean Brisset.
The firm’s time, however, was spent on more than just shipping matters. Lucien Beauregard, a partner from 1914 to 1970, was one of several organizers, along with Charles-Emile Trudeau, father of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, of the Montreal Royals Baseball Club of the International League. Mr. Beauregard oversaw the expansion of the firm’s activities concurrent with the growth of the Canadian maritime economy and the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway.
Beauregard’s nephew, Jean Brisset, joined the firm in 1935 and was leading counsel in many significant maritime casualties, including the Transatlantic/Hermes collision litigation. He continued practicing right up to the time of his death in 1991.
Trevor Bishop started with the firm in 1958 and during his fifty years of practice achieved eight victories before the Supreme Court of Canada, including the seminal decision of ITO-International Terminal Operators v Miida Electronics.
The firm changed and grew throughout the years, and in 1990 the firm became known as “Brisset Bishop”. In 2000, the partners, Victor DeMarco, David Colford and Danièle Dion took over the direction of the firm. Over time, the industry has changed and our practice moved uptown to where we are now at 2020 Robert-Bourassa Blvd. As of 2018, the partners are David Colford, Danièle Dion and Richard Desgagnés.