community news

Mac, Mac & Mac faces a cloud of uncertainty amid allegations of harassment against a male partner at the law firm by two female partners.

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society this week suspended Donn Fraser and said Cox & Palmer has been appointed the receiver of his practice.

Mac, Mac & Mac partners, associates and other staff are leaving for other firms.

Truro’s Patterson Law, which has offices in New Glasgow, is scooping up four partners, a handful of associates and other staff. The partners include Julie MacPhee, Mary Jane Saunders, Joel Sellers, and Eric Atkinson. Associates Mallory Arnott, Natasha Schigas, and Jesse MacLean are also making the move.

Kate Harris, a co-managing partner with Patterson, tells the Advocate that details are still being worked out, but the firm is hoping to take over the lease at Mac, Mac & Mac’s offices in New Glasgow.

“From Patterson’s perspective, this is a really positive thing,” she says. “We’ve been wanting to expand our presence in New Glasgow for quite a while. This is a perfect opportunity to add great folks. It’s all good news, though there appear to be some personal tragedies happening at the same time.”

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society posted a notice of Fraser’s suspension, effective Aug. 27, until further notice. The law industry regulator is instructing clients to contact Andrew Sowerby, a lawyer with Cox & Palmer who’s been appointed receiver of Fraser’s practice.

Fraser, a litigation expert who joined Mac, Mac & Mac in 2010, didn’t respond to a request seeking comment by deadline Tuesday. Representatives from Mac, Mac & Mac also had no immediate comment on the firm’s future.

Public details on the criminal charges are scant. The harassment allegations are subject to a publication ban.

Fraser will stand trial in December to face accusations of harassing one of his colleagues. The trial is scheduled for three days on Dec. 7, 8 and 9. The harassment is alleged to have occurred between August of last year and May of this year.

He was granted a release order with restrictions that include being prohibited from coming in contact with several of his colleagues at the law firm.

The developments are an ignoble turn for the venerable Pictou County law firm that traces its roots back more than six decades. MacIntosh, MacDonnell & MacDonald has long boasted its uniqueness among Nova Scotia law firms, with each of its three founding partners elevated to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Among its high-profile cases over the years were acting as lead counsel in the controversial forensic workplace investigations of Westray Mine disaster and representing a group of Nova Scotia women in a world-wide class action litigation for defective breast implants.