Founded in Montreal in 1972, the firm brought together in 1975 the four founding partners who then gave their names to the firm, namely Claude Melançon, Georges Marceau, Pierre Grenier et Giuseppe Sciortino.
The 1970s were marked by numerous clashes between employers and unions. The union demands were aimed at improving the working conditions of employees in both the public and private sectors. The unions called for substantial improvements in working conditions and wages, as well as concrete measures to improve health and safety at work.
It was in this context that the firm quickly developed an expertise in the defense of employees by using legal tools that meet the expectations of trade unions. The firm deployed this expertise both before the courts and in providing strategic advice to unions.
From the very beginning, the firm has worked with unions in the health and education sectors. The firm also worked with farmers facing expropriation of their land. The firm has always been active in the telecommunications, oil and gas and petrochemical industries. The firm’s clientele has since expanded to most industries and fields of work and represent unions and professional associations in both the public and private sectors.
Over the years, the firm has been able to count on the invaluable contribution of the partners who have left their mark.
Founding member Claude Melançon first developed relationships with unions in the education sector and subsequently represented unions, employees and executives in the public, parapublic and private sectors. He has devoted his expertise to federal and provincial accreditation, collective agreement negotiation and grievance arbitration.
For several years, Claude has also specialized in international labor law, economic integration and international labor cooperation agreements. He has organized and participated in numerous international tripartite conferences on these subjects. He has been an active member of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers (CALL-ACAMS) since its founding convention. Since 1998, he has been coordinating the activities of the international affairs committee of this association.
Founding member Georges Marceau started working when he was a professor of Sciences juridiques at UQAM. He quickly joined the firm full-time and developed employee representation in the health sector. He has also represented certain tribunals, including the Human Rights Tribunal, to defend their jurisdiction as a specialized tribunal.
Georges, now retired, is co-author of the monograph Droit des rapports collectifs du travail au Québec and author of several articles on labour law and administrative law.
Founding member Pierre Grenier taught civil procedure and labour law at the Université de Montréal for several years and Sciences juridiques at UQAM. He was the firm’s managing partner for more than three decades. Over the years, Pierre has focused on litigation concerning the judicial review of decisions of administrative tribunals and on constitutional challenges relating to freedom of association, from the Superior Court to the Supreme Court of Canada, aiming to further employee rights. More recently, he was involved in litigation that culminated with courts striking down provisions of the Labour Code excluding migrant agricultural workers from the right of association and restricting stringently the right to strike in the health sector.
Pierre has also devoted much of his expertise to negotiations in the telecommunications, petrochemical and petroleum sectors and for groups of professionals in the health sector as well as in the university sector.
At the start of his career, founding member Giuseppe Sciortino devoted a good part of his practice to the representation of refugees. He also acted on behalf of political prisoners in Chile. In the field of labour law, Giuseppe has provided expert services to employee organizations before most Quebec and federal courts. He has also worked in administrative law, judicial review, injunction, contempt of court cases and represented student associations during the student strike in 2012.
Giuseppe has frequently taken up the pen to comment on legal, social and political news in texts published in Quebec dailies.
Upon his retirement as a partner, he continued to act as legal counsel with the firm from 2017 to 2020.
In 1995, the firm recruited Johanne Drolet, an experienced lawyer from Quebec who also practiced in labor law for employee associations. In the wake of Johanne’s appointment as a partner, the firm also decided to set up an office in Quebec City in order to meet the needs of its clients.
Johanne is a particular expertise in the areas of human rights as well as pay equity and psychological harassment. She is the author of numerous publications and lectures extensively on these subjects. From 2012 to 2014, Johanne was President of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers (CALL-ACAMS) and remains a member of the organization.
Even after their retirement as partners of the firm, Claude Melançon, Georges Marceau, Giuseppe Sciortino, Johanne Drolet and Pierre Grenier all continued to contribute to the advancement of the firm, while passing the torch to the current partners who, with their varied expertise, continue to work to defend the rights and interests of employees and the organizations that defend them: Michael Cohen, Josée Lavallée, current managing partner of the firm, Denis Lavoie, Marie-Jo Bouchard, Michel Gilbert, Sibel Ataogul, Marie-Claude St-Amant, Pierre Brun, Sylvain Beauchamp, Guillaume Grenier and Anne Julie Couture. The firm also benefits from the contribution of all the other members of the staff, namely the lawyers who continue the tradition of the firm and the professional and administrative staff who support its activities.
The members of the firm participate in the defense of the rights of employees and their associations both through their practice and in their social commitments. Many share their expertise by teaching at various universities. In addition, the firm continues to participate in the development of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers (CALL-ACAMS), an association of lawyers working with unions for the advancement of employee rights across Canada and at the national and international level.
For nearly 50 years, the firm’s lawyers have played an important role in the field of labour law, administrative law, human rights law and occupational health and safety law. Today, the firm is known as one of the most important in these fields.