In April 2007, UBC and the Faculty received gifts totaling $1 million from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and the Ladner family to support the building campaign. The law school has named a lecture hall in honour of Thomas E. (“Tom”) Ladner, DSC, QC (1916 – 2006), a loving father, decorated war hero, outstanding lawyer and community leader.
While it was his father, Leon J. Ladner, who founded Ladner Downs in 1911, it was Tom Ladner’s leadership, vision, drive and values that saw Ladner Downs grow from just four lawyers when he joined the firm in 1945, to a preeminent firm of 125 lawyers by the year 2000 when Ladner Downs merged with Howard Mackie (Calgary), Borden & Elliott (Toronto), Scott & Aylen (Ottawa) and McMaster Gervais (Montreal) to form Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), one of Canada’s largest law firms. Tom Ladner was a mentor to several generations of professionals, inspiring his colleagues to be better lawyers and better people. The wisdom of the principles and values on which he built Ladner Downs was so readily apparent to the merging firms that they live on as core values in BLG’s partnership agreement.
Tom Ladner was a superb lawyer, known for his strong negotiating and drafting skills, his great knowledge of the law, his keen understanding of people and his business acumen. But he was equally known for his graciousness, and for the respect and consideration he showed to all. As his grandson, Peter Edmonds, observed:
“…much of Tom’s life was led with the military precision and regimen from his days in the Navy. One of the things he said was ‘Always remember your next astern.’ This is meant to reflect that all of your actions should take into consideration the next ‘ship’ or person who comes along behind you. To be honest, I don’t recall him repeating this over and over. But we all know it. It’s because Tom preached lightly and practiced heavily. In all of his actions, he infused this mantra. It is now a reflex for us to ‘leave the place better than you found it.’ We recognize this is something we could apply, not only to the way we treat each other, but also to the world we leave behind.
Tom remembered his next astern in everything he did. When serving country, city, firm or family, he led by example. Unfailingly, he treated people with the highest level of respect.”
Tom Ladner believed in giving back to the community and BLG reflects this view in many ways, including its ongoing relationship with the law school. The partners of BLG, as evidenced by their participation as adjunct professors, moot court judges, mentors and so on, and through the firm’s contributions of prizes and scholarships, believe that the law remains a learned profession in which an ongoing dialogue between scholarship and practice is essential.
This lecture hall was made possible through a gift by the partners of BLG and the Ladner family. Given in the spirit of remembering “our next astern,” this gift continues the deep and enduring connection of the Ladner family and the partners of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP with UBC.