The story of Legge & Legge is that of its two founding partners, Laura Louise Legge, OOnt, QC, RN, LLD (née Down) and her husband Bruce Jarvis Legge, CM, CMM, ED, CD, QC.
Laura Down was born January 27, 1923 and raised on her family’s dairy farm near Courtland, Ontario. In 1939, at the age of 16, she graduated at the top of her class at Tillsonburg High School and was awarded a full scholarship to Medical School at the University of Western Ontario, which she declined in favour of an Honours B.A. at UWO with a major in history. In 1942, she entered the Toronto General Hospital School for Nurses and upon graduating in 1945 received the Gold Medal for her year. Laura Down entered law school at Osgoode Hall and continued to practice nursing throughout her legal studies. She is believed to be the first woman lawyer in Canada to have had a prior professional license.
In 1950, Laura married Bruce Legge, a veteran, officer and lawyer. Bruce was born and raised in Toronto and entered Victoria College and the University of Toronto Canadian Officer Training Corps in 1938. He graduated with his B.A. and was commissioned an officer in the Canadian Army in 1941, and was posted oversees after completion of his first year at Osgoode Hall law school in May 1942. Bruce Legge served overseas in England, France, the Netherlands and Germany, and after cessation of hostilities, remained in Europe as a working historian on the Canadian Army Historical Section Staff. He completed the Commonwealth Officers’ Graduate Course at Oxford. He returned Canada to complete his legal training, and was called to the Bar in 1949.
After her call to the Bar, Mrs. Legge worked as the junior solicitor in the Ontario Department of Health and wrote much of Ontario’s post World War II medical, health professions and public health legislation and regulations. She left this position in 1955, to start her own private practice at Yonge and St. Clair, with her husband as a silent partner.
Mrs. Legge served as the senior partner at Legge & Legge for more than 55 years. During the course of her career she was the first elected female bencher for the Law Society of Upper Canada. Mrs. Legge was the first female Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. She received an LLD from the Law Society (1985), the Robinette Medal by Osgoode Hall Law School (1997), and the Order of Ontario (2003). She sat on the board of the Women's College Hospital, and was President of the Women’s Law Association, the Soroptimist Club of Toronto and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and Chair of the Ontario Safety League.
Throughout his career Bruce Legge served as an Assistant Crown Attorney, as a Pension Advocate, and as Chairman of the Ontario Workmen’s Compensation Board. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1959, and chaired a number of Commissions of Enquiry in Canada and the United States on issues of safety and workers’ compensation. Bruce Legge’s post-war concurrent service in the Canadian Forces culminated in appointments as Major General Reserves for Canada, Presidency of the NATO Reserve Officers (CIOR) and Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Logistics Branch. Bruce Legge’s volunteer and public service included chairing The Canada Safety Council, The Royal Canadian Military Institute, The Empire Club, The Good Neighbours Club, The Royal Commonwealth Society, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions, Metro International Caravan, the Council of Honorary Colonels of Canada, and the Medical Legal Society of Toronto. His honours and awards included the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit, a Knighthood of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the Freedom of the City of London and the Jerusalem Medal (Israel).
General Legge died on February 27, 2006, and Mrs. Legge continued to practise, in partnership with her son John, until her death on October 5, 2010. John Legge and his wife, Mary Stokes, continue the practice in the Deer Park neighbourhood, where the firm has been for over 60 years. The firm has now entered its third generation, with the addition of John and Mary's daughter, Elizabeth Legge.