Emond – a Fresh Voice in Legal Publishing

“Emond” Rises, while Brand Names “Canada Law Book” and “Carswell” fade to black

Publishing houses rise and fall. Legal publishing houses are no exception. Changes in ownership and/or hidden weaknesses may cause a company that dominates in one decade, to be displaced in the next by another, with a better idea as to how to best meet the needs of consumers. “Canada Law Book” is one such company, and “Carswell” another. Both names will disappear in the near future as these historic brands are replaced by “Thomson Reuters” in the coming year.

Canada Law Book

In the early seventies, Canada Law Book was unquestionably the leading Canadian legal publisher. Its collection of treatises, precedents and annotated statutes were of the highest standard and its list of law reports series left little room for a competitor, although Carswell tried.

By the eighties, a resurgent Carswell had displaced Canada Law Book as the leading Canadian law book publisher. Following the launch of several series of topical law reports, Carswell appeared to be the innovator and open to new authors with fresh ideas. It seized the opportunity and transformed the marketplace with a stream of new products that some thought would never end. Canada Law Book, by contrast, added little that was new to its core publishing program and became an also ran in Canadian legal publishing.

The end finally came with their acquisition by Thomson Reuters. Today both Canada Law Book and Carswell are well on their way to becoming mere footnotes in legal publishing history with their iconic names soon to become little more than labels on the cover of a few old law books in a library archive.

Emond Montgomery Publications

But fear not. Other publishing houses will rise to fill all or some of the roles of the publishing icons that have fallen by the wayside. “Emond”, the renamed “Emond Montgomery Publications” may be a case in point.

This publishing house was founded by Paul Emond and Ann Montgomery in 1978 as a legal academic press, with a focus on publishing casebooks for the Canadian law school market. Canada Law Book acquired controlling interest in the company in 1984, but fortunately left Paul Emond to run the company as before. Emond had a vision and a commitment to quality and had found a niche in the Canadian legal publishing scene for his company.

To quote from the company’s promotional materials, Emond Montgomery Publications is regarded as one of Canada’s finest educational and professional publishers. We offer publications for high school, higher education, law school, and legal practice. Our commitment to customer service and our passion for developing quality print and digital resources are the reasons for our success and are at the heart of what we do every day. We are focused on anticipating the changing needs of Canadian students, instructors, and legal professionals, and we are ideally suited to offer the national presence and capabilities of a larger company without sacrificing the individual attention on which we pride ourselves.

New Lease on Life

By 2010, when the Cartwright family was ready to cash out, control of the company was sold back to Paul Emond and Jean Emond. This change in control seemed to give the company a new lease on life. By 2012, Emond had launched a Professional Division headed by Ruth Epstein, to broaden its publishing initiatives to practising legal professionals and take advantage of the opportunity provided by the unpopular loose leaf format used by the leading publishers of legal information. Ruth had the following to say in a comment on on March 28, 2013:

I was pleasantly surprised on joining Emond Montgomery to discover that, notwithstanding its prior mandate to focus exclusively on the academic market, its publications have sold widely to practitioners in law firms and government. This is attributable in part to the very practical approach taken in its publications, distinguishing them from coventional treatises, most of which are now in looseleaf format with the associated expense and inconvenience so unpopular with the legal community. I have also discovered that, in spite of maintaining a low-key promotional approach, Emond Montgomery’s stellar reputation among its customers, for both editorial quality and customer service, is well known.

More recently, Publisher Danann Hawes has outlined the rather aggressive approach being pursued by Emond that is, at least in part, designed to take advantage of the market’s hostility to the loose-leaf format:

I’m starting with broad foundational works in key areas, with a focus on small law areas (family, immigration, real estate, personal injury). It is in these areas that I feel young lawyers will need the most help, at a very affordable price, especially solos who will not have the benefits of mentorship and firm library resources, all advantages of larger law firms.

I identified criminal law as an area so important that I decided to create a series of monographs. Anchored by the credibility of the general editors, and pairing crown and defence on each tittle, this is an opportunity to offer a national audience of 5000 plus (crown and defence in Canada) affordable concise, practical and a balanced treatment of the most common areas of criminal practice. In a practice area dominated by excessively priced loose leafs, often over-serviced with low value updates, small, useful and authoritative texts will offer a fresh and much needed alternative. The same logic applies to employment, although efforts will need to be made to most titles to make them national in application.

As I stated above, yes, softbound alternatives to loose leafs and expensive hard bound treatise works are my focus. Offering real value at an affordable rate. Customers have been abused long enough in this industry.

This approach is beginning to bear fruit. New titles be launched by Emond in the coming year include the following:

Accident Benefits: A Practical Desk Reference by Darryl Singer, Andrea Sesum, Meena Saini
Prosecuting and Defending Youth Justice Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Brock Jones, Emma Rhodes
Expert Testimony: A Criminal Practitioner’s Handbook by Robin Flumerfelt and Enzo Rondinelli (Criminal Law Series)
Prosecuting and Defending Sexual Offences Cases: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Kim Crosbie and Daniel Brown (Criminal Law Series)
Criminal Appeals: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Mark Halfyard, Michael Dineen and Jonathan Dawe (Criminal Law Series)
Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Cathryn Sawicki and Chantal Desloges, with Lynn Fournier-Ru
Administrative Law in Canada: A Practitioner’s Handbook by Lorne Sossin and Freya Kristjanson

Yet another initiative being pursued by Emond is a series of three live events called “The Legal Masters Series” with an academic, and two practitioners from opposite sides of the legal spectrum (defence crown, plaintiff defendant). Three programs have been announced: (1) Constitutional with Peter Hogg, Brian Greenspan, and Andrew Lokan – March 22, 2016; (2) Torts with Bruce Feldthusen and Roger Oatley – April 7th, 2016: and (3) Criminal with Kent Roach, Brian Greenspan and Kim Crosbie – May 10th, 2016.

A Fresh Voice in Legal Publishing

Emond’s Professional Publishing Division is clearly a fresh voice in legal publishing. To what extent it will succeed in filling the gaps created by the failure of the major legal publishers to address the issue of loose-leafs remains to be seen. An opportunity exists but the challenge is great.

The hold of the loose-leaf services rests with the quality and scale of the original content and the difficulty of developing comparable materials to take their place. Many years went into their development and one cannot imagine developing alternatives in a short period of time. Market conditions have also changed from the seventies and eighties when key customers, including law libraries in large firms and law schools, actively supported new publishing initiatives by aggressively adding new titles to their collections. Now these same customers seem to be fearful of building their collections of new works.

However, in looking at the past to speculate upon what might come next, I am mindful of an internal report that I read shortly after being hired by Carswell in 1974. In that report written by an experienced publisher, the author stated categorically that Carswell could expect little or no growth after the publication of the final volume of the Third Edition of the Canadian Abridgment, for at least a decade, when the Fourth Edition was due. In reality, the publication of the last volume of the Third Edition of the Canadian Abridgment was followed by a period of phenomenal creativity and growth, unmatched in Canadian legal publishing history. How wrong could anyone be then. How wrong can anyone be now.


  1. That was a very interesting read, Gary.
    My mind kept turning to Irwin as I read this, since they too produce an impressive array of monographs and eschew looseleafs. Do you agree they’re another case in point? Or is there something further distinctive about Emond’s newly invigorated mandate?

  2. Irwin is at this point has the greatest potential to take the lead. Even now, it has a highly competitive first class list that puts it in the forefront of publishers of legal information in Canada. Nothing I said about Emond in any way lessens the admiration that I have for all that Irwin has accomplished in a comparatively short period of time.

    My thoughts about Emond and about Canada Law Book and Carswell were based on Emond launching new initiatives at the same time as the Canada Law Book and Carswell brands, my old favourites, appear to be losing their hold on the market. I was frankly thrilled by the idea that there could indeed be “a fresh voice in legal publishing”.

  3. Anyone know of initiatives by Emond to make these live event lectures available electronically, for those of us who do not live in the Toronto area?

  4. Danann Hawes (Emond Publishing)

    Hi R. Jones,

    We will be recording each lecture event and will be making the recordings available for purchase.