Legal Legacy

Maurice Wright


Maurice was born in Winnipeg in 1915.  He was the only member of his family born in Canada after his parents and 4 older siblings immigrated from what is now known as Belarus.  For that, his family gave  him the nickname of “The Canadian”. His formative life experiences were dictated by poverty, anti-semitism and hardship.  In fact, he had to change his name from the Yiddish name that his parents had given him to gain admission into University of Manitoba Law School.

Upon graduation from law school in 1937, and with Winnipeg in the grips of the prairie dust bowl and the Great Depression, he travelled to Toronto looking for work.  He was not able to find legal work but was taken on as an assistant by the owner of Tip Top Tailors.

With his knowledge of Yiddish, he served in the Canadian Armed Forces as a translator and decoder before finding work in Ottawa for the federal Wartime Prices and Trade Board.  Thereafter, he found his first private practice legal work with the late Sam Berger before partnering with Mike Greenberg to form the firm of Greenberg and Wright.  It was at this time that Maurice drew upon his early life experience and began to develop a practice in the fledgling field of labour law.  He quickly developed a union side labour law practice while Mike Greenberg developed his commercial and real estate practice.  With his significant litigation practice, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1959.

In 1963, Maurice partnered with Hy Soloway and his partners to form what ultimately became Soloway Wright.  Uniquely, he was able to develop what became one of Canada’s leading union side labour law practices while being a partner of a thriving general practice law firm.  He acted for numerous national public sector and transportation unions as well as the Canadian Labour Congress.  This led to many appearances before national labour boards, several Supreme Court of Canada appearances including two constitutional references and representing national union interests in several Commissions of Inquiry.  He was one of a handful of lawyers, tribunal members and judges who literally wrote the book on Canadian labour law.

Starting in Winnipeg and then in Ottawa, Maurice was actively involved in the trade union movement, the Canadian Bar Association and both Jewish communities.

Maurice retired from Soloway Wright in 1985 and acted as a labour arbitrator for several years before fully retiring.