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Gordon PullanBy MYRON LOVE The legendary Harry Walsh used to refer to himself as Canada’s oldest working lawyer. Walsh passed away in 2011 at the age of 97 and he was still going into the office almost to the end.

His career spanned almost 75 years.
Although Gordon Pullan’s legal career may not extend to 75 years, the 92-year-old could be said to be giving Walsh a run for his money as Canada’s oldest active lawyer. In practice for 66 years, Pullan says that he is semi-retired. To Pullan, that means that he no longer works weekends or evenings. The senior partner at the law firm of Pullan Kammerloch Frohlinger says that he is now serving clients whose parents and grandparents also sought out his legal counsel.

Pullan recalls that he didn’t set out to be a lawyer. After his war service – with training in the air force, army and navy – he originally enrolled in engineering. After a year in the faculty – a year that he describes as the “unhappiest year of his life” – he followed the lead of a friend and tried law school. He graduated in 1950.
“I enjoyed law school,” he says. “I am the only one from my graduating class who is still in practice.”

Pullan articled with Allan Hoffman and opened his own practice working out of an office in the Times Building downtown.
“For the first few months, I had no one coming in, no calls, no letters,” he recalls. “The highlight of the week was getting my copy of Time Magazine in the mail.”
Then, in 1954, the Times Building went up in flames in what was one of Winnipeg’s most spectacular fires.
Pullan’s next office brought him into contact with real estate agents Ozzie Nasberg and Irv Margolese, who began sending clients his way. “Winnipeg was undergoing a building boom in new houses as returning veterans wanted homes,” he says.

By 1954, he was making enough money that he felt he could finally marry the love of his life, the former Esther Dolgin.
While Pullan has focused primarily on corporate/commercial law and estates with some involvement is family law, he did have some experience early on with criminal law. “I stopped doing criminal law many years ago,” he says, “but, when I was first starting out, I took whatever came my way.”
He credits both Harry Walsh and the late Justice Sam Freedman with providing much good guidance in the practice of criminal law in his early years. One story he recounts is one of his earliest cases before Justice Freedman.
“It was an auto injury claim,” he recounts. “I won essentially by default. My opposing legal counsel was less competent than even I was. After the case, Sam Freedman called me into his office and dissected my case and my arguments in great detail.”
He recalls Harry Walsh as one of the kindest, most learned and least judgmental lawyers he ever knew.

And, like Walsh before him, Gordon Pullan has been a leader in the community. For example, Pullan has been associated with the Sharon Home/Simkin Centre for 50 years, including 15 years as president.
He was an early member of the board of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.
He was a long time board member of the former Bnay Abraham Synagogue and is currently on the board of the Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Synagogue.
He has been a fundraiser for the Combined Jewish Appeal for many years.
He was the honorary solicitor for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
And, he is a life member of both the Canadian Bar Association and the Manitoba Bar Association.
In his prime, he says, he would regularly be putting in 12-hour days. “I would be out until 9:00 almost every evening,” he says. “I really appreciate the support I received from Esther that allowed me to do what I did.”

Pullan says that he has really enjoyed the practice of law. “I am a people person, so I like getting to know people,” he says. “As a lawyer, I get to know things about people that even their closest relatives – even their spouses in some cases – don’t know. Every client has a different story.”
And what Pullan is most proud of, he says, is that in 66 years of practice – he has never had to appear before the Law Society disciplinary committee. (Ed. note: There’s still time.)

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