Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, law firms, legal profession, law school, United States, Cravath, New York, Halifax, nepotism, legal education, legal history


The traditional view is that regularized, meritocratic hiring in Canadian law firms had to wait until the 1960s, with the rise in importance of Ontario university law schools. There was, however, more regional variation than this view allows. After an overview of the rise of large firms in the U.S. and Canada, and of the modern hiring strategies (the "Cravath system") that developed in New York in the early twentieth century, the author considers whether Halifax firms were employing these strategies between 1900 and 1955. Nepotistic hiring continued unabated; however, the three large firms of the period recruited young students with good academic records with increasing regularity,in the New York manner. The article concludes by proposing that the difference between firms' hiring in Toronto and Halifax might be explained by the enthusiasm with which the bar in each of these cities adopted modern professional views on legal education.