March 20, 2016

Montréal Meeting Showcases Member Expertise, Experience

Rick G. Paszkiet

Montréal in April conjures up many images: a stroll in Parc du Mont Royal; eating at an outdoor restaurant; and the shedding of winter clothes! But from April 7–9, Montréal will also be hosting its largest gathering of business lawyers in memory—the ABA Business Law Section 2016 Spring Meeting.

With more than 1,500 in attendance, the Montréal meeting can boast that it is a truly global event with lawyers from all 50 U.S. states, as well as from 19 other countries (UK, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Peru, Morocco, Japan, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, India, Iraq, Mexico, and Argentina).

“To this day, I am convinced that I was appointed to the Section leadership ladder solely on the basis that I would hold our Spring Meeting in Montréal,” said William Rosenberg, chair of the ABA Business Law Section. “I am indeed very proud to host this event in Montréal—it will be the first time in our long Section history that a major meeting of business lawyers, academics, and students has been held in this wonderful, multicultural city!”

When he attended his first Business Law Section (BLS) meeting in 1992, Rosenberg said that he was impressed with the high level of discussions at the various committee and subcommittee meetings, as well as the quality of the CLE programming. “I did my best to absorb as much as I could,” added Rosenberg. “In-person attendance allows for numerous networking opportunities and offers our members a great opportunity to exchange ideas, often on emerging trends and hot topics.”

This year, the Spring Meeting will offer attendees the chance to attend 79 programs with more than 250 speakers. The topics cover every imaginable area of business law and allow attendees to access information ranging from the basic to the very advanced.

Advice for First Timers

For the first-time attendee, the scope of such an event can be truly daunting.

“I recommend that a first-time attendee go to the BLS website before the meeting and download the pre-meeting guide to your schedule,” said Justice Henry duPont Ridgely, BLS Advisor. “You can even arrange for an experienced Section member to help you navigate the meeting. At my first meeting, I was amazed at the breadth of the CLE programs. Take advantage of as many programs as you can and also attend committee meetings and committee dinners relevant to your practice area.”

Like Rosenberg, Ridgely began attending BLS meetings in the early 1990s. “After my appointment as a Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court in 2004, I became even more involved with the Section and began attending Fall and Spring Meetings on a regular basis. I am glad I did.”

Rosenberg urges first-time attendees to become acquainted with the many benefits of in-person attendance. These include the First-Timer Breakfast, Icebreaker Reception, and Welcome Reception, all of which are held on Thursday, April 7. “Section members are more than pleased to share helpful tips and offer other guidance to those attending for the first time,” added Rosenberg.

BLS Fellow Rachel Marin, who attended her first meeting in 2011, recommends that the first timer seek out a friendly face. “Ask how you can become more involved in the Section or its committees,” added Marin. “Tag along with a group who is going out to lunch or dinner. The BLS members are very welcoming.”

In fact, for Marin, the people are the key to the meetings. “Creating a network of intelligent, fun attorneys from around the country who understand my practice area is very filling on both a professional and personal level.”

Pass the Poutine!

There are more than a dozen BLS social events scheduled, including 18 committee dinners and brunches. Yes, local favorites, such as poutine, smoked meat, and maple-themed desserts, will be served. The Montréal meeting will also follow the Section’s tradition in offering attendees a notable keynote speaker at the Section luncheon. Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada, will address the BLS members on Friday, April 8.

As topical and interesting as the programming may be, don’t forget to enjoy Montréal.

“I expect that my wife Barbara and I will explore Old Montréal, the Botanical Gardens, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts during our free time. There is a lot to choose from,” said Justice Ridgely.

Rosenberg urges attendees to go out and explore the city. “Part of the fun in planning the BLS Montréal meeting was to showcase our city and its culture,” said Rosenberg.

Quality programming, experienced speakers, and a wonderful venue —the BLS Montréal Spring Meeting promises to be crème de la crème!

The Chair’s Five Favorites

William Rosenberg, a lifelong Montréal resident, encourages attendees to visit his top five favorite Montréal spots for first-time visitors:

  1. Old Montréal
  2. Mount-Royal Lookout
  3. St. Viateur Bagel/Fairmont Bagel
  4. Olympic Stadium Tower
  5. Schwartz’s Delicatessen (located on boulevard St. Laurent, for great old-fashioned smoked meat)

And, of course, there are the Montréal Canadians NHL Hockey Team! William Rosenberg and his son David are lifelong fans. “Growing up in Montréal in the 1970s,” said Rosenberg. “I was spoiled following the great Stanley Cup championship teams of the Montréal Canadians.”

BLS members have two chances to catch the Canadians in action at the Bell Centre in Montréal:

Tuesday, April 5 – PANTHERS @ CANADIENS: 7:30
Saturday, April 9 – LIGHTNING @ CANADIENS: 7:00

Montréal Restaurateur Helps Establish the Rule of Law
By Rachel Kahn

In 1959, the rule of law in Canada found its standing in the Canadian Supreme Court case Roncarelli v. Duplessis. Frank Roncarelli was the owner of a successful restaurant in Montréal. Like his father before him, Roncarelli held a liquor license for the restaurant issued by the Quebec Liquor Commission, and for the past 34 years, the license had been renewed continuously.

Roncarelli was also a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the time, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were causing tension to the predominantly Roman Catholic population in Quebec. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were proselytizing and attacking Catholicism, even causing riots in some cities in the province.

In 1945 and 1946, the provincial government took steps to curtail the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities by enacting and applying a city by-law that required a license to distribute publications. Masses of Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested for offering pamphlets at street corners. Over the next two years, Roncarelli provided bail for 375 members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, many of whom were arrested more than once. Most of the Witnesses resumed proselytizing, only to be arrested again and released on bail.

Provincial authorities and the public were aggravated by the cycle caused by Roncarelli. After discussion with the chief prosecutor in Montréal and head of the Quebec Liquor Commission, Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis approved the cancellation of Roncarelli’s liquor license and declared that no further license would be granted to him. This served as a warning to others that they would also be denied provincial “privileges” if they supported the Witnesses.

Without a liquor license, Roncarelli’s restaurant suffered and was put up for sale within six months. Consequently, Roncarelli filed a suit against Premier Duplessis for the illegal revocation of his liquor license, seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Thirteen years later, the Supreme Court of Canada held that Duplessis wrongfully caused the cancellation of Roncarelli’s liquor license. Justice Rand wrote in his decision that the rule of law meant no public official was above the law. Duplessis’s directive was not based on any factors connected to the “operation of the license, but was made for unrelated reasons, and was therefore held to be exercised arbitrarily and without good faith.”


Genevieve Cartier, “The Legacy of Roncarelli v. Duplessis,” McGill Law Journal~ Revue de droit de McGill 55, no. 3 (2010): 375–99, 

Peter Bowal, “Whatever Happened To . . . Roncarelli v. Duplessis,” LawNow, November 1, 2012,

“Roncarelli v Duplessis,” Wikipedia, last modified November 30, 2015,

Rick G. Paszkiet