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Our Founders

John Nelligan Q.C., LSM, D.U. (Hon.)

John P. Nelligan co-founded the firm with Denis Power in 1969, and is a distinguished member of the National Capital Region’s professional community. Known for his humility, John is celebrated for his wily courtroom presence and exceptional negotiation skills.

John was called to the Ontario Bar, with honours, in 1949. He was named Queen’s Counsel in 1972, was awarded The Law Society Medal in 1991, The Laidlaw Medal for Excellence in Advocacy in 1994, The Advocates’ Society Medal in 1995, and the County of Carleton Law Association Medal in 2002.

He was selected as a leading practitioner in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2012-2017 and was included in the 2013 to 2018 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada. He was also selected as the Legal Malpractice Law Lawyer of the Year in the 2013 and 2016 editions, and 2012 Ottawa Corporate and Commercial Litigation Lawyer of the Year.

John has held many positions in professional organizations, including the Chairmanship of a number of committees and task forces, and membership on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Bar Association. He served as Director, Vice-President and President of the Advocates’ Society. He is a Past President of the Canadian Civil Liberties AssociationThomas More Guild of Ottawa and John Howard Society of Ottawa. John has served on the boards and advisory committees of a number of social agencies. He is a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

John was a member of the Faculty of Osgoode Hall Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop each summer for over 12 years. He has also participated as a lecturer and demonstrator in trial advocacy on a regular basis in seminars sponsored by the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar AssociationCounty of Carleton Law Association, and University of Ottawa Law School.

John Patrick Nelligan was born in Hamilton Ontario. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto where he met his future wife Marion, then served overseas in the Second World War. Upon his return, he became a Barrister at Law (with Honours) from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1949. Mr. Nelligan practised in Toronto until 1955 when he moved to Ottawa. In 1963, he opened his own law office and in 1969, he and Denis Power established the firm of Nelligan Power (now Nelligan O’Brien Payne). He was considered to be a masterful and consummate advocate. During his career, he was counsel on numerous high-profile cases and the media came to refer to him as “Ottawa’s Perry Mason”. He was made Queen’s Counsel in 1972. He celebrated 50 years at the Bar in 2000 but still practised for many years after that.

He was a past President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He was the first President of The Advocates’ Society who practised outside Toronto. He was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Among the many honours John Nelligan received, he was the recipient of:

  • The Law Society Medal
  • The Advocate’s Society Medal
  • The Carleton Medal
  • The Laidlaw Medal for Excellence in Advocacy
  • Award of Merit from B’nai Brith of Canada
  • Doctorate of Laws, University of Ottawa – Common Law

He was predeceased by his wife Marion and their son Jack. He is survived by their daughters Peggy and Kathleen and their children.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Denis Power Q.C.

In 1963, Mr. Justice Power Q.C. joined Mr. Nelligan’s law office as an articling student, and in 1969, the Nelligan Power partnership was established. For more than 35 years, Mr. Justice Power Q.C. practised primarily in the areas of professional negligence law, labour law, commercial and insolvency litigation, and education law. In October 2000, Denis Power Q.C. was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. According to the rules established by the Law Society, when a “firm name” partner accepts an appointment to become a judge, the firm is required to change its name. Effective immediately, the firm’s name was changed to Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP. Certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a specialist in civil litigation, Mr. Justice Power Q.C. is a former Director and Officer of the Advocates’ Society.

Denis Power Q.C. was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the fourth of ten children. The Power family moved to Ottawa in September of 1950, at which point Denis attended Corpus Christie School for one year. Following that, he attended St. Patrick’s High School at St. Patrick’s College, from which he graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He then attended law school at the University of Ottawa and graduated in 1963 with an LL.B.

After completion of his articles and the Bar Admission Course, Denis Power Q.C. was called, with honours, to the Ontario Bar in the spring of 1965. He then began practising law with John P. Nelligan Q.C, who was at that time a sole practitioner. The partnership of Nelligan Power was created in 1969. Denis received his Queen’s Counsel designation in 1980.

Over the course of his legal career, Denis has been involved in many areas of law. His specialities, however, are litigation, labour law, and education law.

As a result of Denis’ involvement with education issues, he also possesses a speciality in the area of education law including denominational education rights.

Denis served for several years as a Trustee and Executive member (including the office of the President) of the local Bar Association – the Carleton County Law Association. In addition, he also served for several years as a director and officer of the Ontario Advocates’ Society. Denis is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the premiere litigation lawyers’ association in North America.

Denis has written and lectured extensively on various legal matters and, in particular, on behalf of the Carleton County Law Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Canadian Bar Association.

In November 2000, Denis Power Q.C. was appointed a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ontario.

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