Drawing on a client base that has insular roots in the City of Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick going back to the last century, the legal team at Ellsworth Johnson & Partners has no shortage of conversation openers with clients.
“I can honestly say we don’t have to talk about the weather,” admits Managing Partner Scott Ellsworth, who has practiced law with the firm since 1976.
“It is very comforting for people to come here. I still see folks that my father had as clients, or their children or grandchildren. We are all families that grew up in the area. We talk about connections to our families, and our heritage building and its history are all part of that,” he says.
The law firm conducts its business from a red brick building known as “The Old Transcript Building” at 828 Main Street (the corner of Main and Westmorland streets). The building has been designated officially as one of Canada’s Historic Places.
As he looks to the future, Ellsworth says the firm’s heritage and traditions give it a competitive advantage, and one that he and all the members of the firm are mindful of protecting.
“It is our role now to continue to nurture that tradition of trust and refresh it and ensure that it is recurring.”
The firm, now known as Ellsworth Johnson & Partners, was started in Moncton in 1916 by Tuttle T. Goodwin, who served as its senior partner. It was later known as Goodwin & Goodwin, and then renamed Goodwin & Ellsworth in 1950.
The founder, who went on ultimately to become a judge presiding over the Probate Court for Westmorland County, was a native of Baie Verte. Born October 14, 1878, he was a son of Amos and Hannah Trenholm Goodwin.
He married Georgie B. Green on August 20, 1901 and they had two sons and two daughters. One of them was Harrison Goodwin, who attended Acadia University, Dalhousie University, and the Saint John Law School, taking the degree of B.C.L. The others were Evelyn S. Bell, Doris E. Gill, and Robert Goodwin.
Judge Goodwin was educated locally in public schools, and then attended Provincial Normal School and Pictou Academy. For a decade, from 1901 until 1911, he taught school in Dorchester, Petitcodiac and Salisbury.
He was admitted as a barrister in 1912 and appointed a King’s Counsel (KC) in 1934.
He practiced law in Petitcodiac from 1912 to 1916 in partnership with Uz King and then established his law practice in Moncton in 1916, where it continues to this day. He was later joined in his practice by his son, Harrison, who continued the law firm until the 1950s.
During his lifetime, Judge Goodwin was politically active. He started as an Alderman-at-Large on Moncton City Council in 1924-25, and in the provincial elections of both 1925 and 1930, he ran as a Liberal Party candidate to represent Moncton in the Legislative Assembly.
He was appointed City Solicitor in 1930, a post he held for the rest of his working life.
He was also Clerk of the Westmorland County Court and Clerk of the Circuit Court in Westmorland County and conducted many criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Attorney-General. He was Crown Prosecutor in Westmorland County Court.
His interest in public life extended to his active support for the field of education. He was appointed by the provincial government to the Moncton Board of School Trustees.
He was also a Past Master and Past District Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Order, a Past Chancellor Commander of Westmorland Lodge, No. 3, Knights of Pythias and a member of the Pictou County Academy League.
He was a faithful member of the First Baptist Church throughout his life and was described by many as an “exceptionally fine singer” as he sang in their choir for many years.
Harrison Goodwin, like his father, was also active in the community, serving as a member of the Moncton Barristers Association, the Botsford Chapter, F and AM Luxor Temple and the Shrine Club.
Married to the former Nan Barnaby, he had one son, Harrison Jr. and one daughter, Georgie Lee Taylor (Ralph).
Throughout his life he also attended the First United Baptist Church.
Douglas C. Ellsworth, a native of Campbellton, N.B., and an officer in the RCAF who served overseas in WWII, acquired the firm from Harrison Goodwin in 1950 and continued the family tradition with his son Scott Ellsworth joining him in 1976.
Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 from Dalhousie University, with a focus on Political Science and Economics. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1976 from the University of New Brunswick where he served as editor-in-chief of the UNB Law Journal and was awarded the Harrison Shield during his final year of study.
Named a Queen’s Counsel in 2003 after distinguishing himself in the litigation and business advisory aspects of his practice, he continues the tradition of staying connected with the community. He is past president of the Moncton Kinsmen Club and a founding chair of Moncton Kinsmen Charities which contributed millions of dollars to worthy causes in Southeastern New Brunswick.
He is also a past president of the Moncton Central Business Development Corporation (now Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc.) and was instrumental in facilitating the Main Street revitalization initiatives co-operatively funded by the provincial and federal governments.
He has served as a Director of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce and other community groups, and participates actively in a number of charitable and fraternal organizations.
Bruce Johnson, the senior partner of the firm, joined the firm in the year 2001, having practiced law in Moncton since 1973 when he was called to the New Brunswick Bar. He is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick where he completed his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1969 and received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1973.
Bruce has established himself in the corporate, commercial, and insolvency fields and often acts as counsel for trustees and receivers, debtors and creditors under the restructuring provisions of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act.
He is a past president of the Moncton Boys and Girls Club, a past president of his community association, and has served as a director of several Moncton area tennis clubs. He is also a nationally recognized wine expert.
Patricia LeBlanc-Bird joined the firm in 1990 and has extensive experience in the areas of personal injury and insurance claims. Her preferred areas of practice also include estate planning matters, real estate transactions and family issues. She is a certified practitioner of collaborative family law. She graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, concentrating on Political Science, and earned her Bachelor of Laws degree in 1982. She has served as a lecturer for the Business Law class at Crandall University and has provided many seminars to community groups and business organizations.
She was appointed to a seat as Commissioner on the New Brunswick Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities in 2004. She is also a member of the Christian Legal Fellowship, past president of the Moncton United Way, and a past committee chair of the Moncton Business and Professional Women’s Club. She is an active member of the Greater Moncton YMCA Building Campaign Committee.
Jon Lutes joined the team in 2014. He obtained joint undergraduate degrees in Computer Science (BSC) and Psychology (BA) from the University of New Brunswick, where he also received a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB).
From his previous role at a regional law firm in Atlantic Canada, he brings experience in real property transactions, wills and estates, the purchase and sale of businesses, employment and labour law, corporate reorganizations and general litigation matters.
Jeff Ellsworth, the latest generation Ellsworth family member, became an associate with the firm in 2014. He studied commerce at Dalhousie University and received his Juris Doctor degree (JD) from Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law in 2013. He subsequently articled with the firm and was called to the New Brunswick Bar in 2014.
He is working in several practice areas including corporate and commercial law, restructuring and insolvency, civil litigation and criminal law.
Office manager Ellen Steeves-Allen, who has been with the firm for four decades, is distinguished for the priority she sets on cohesively managing the well-experienced support staff while keeping abreast of the latest in law firm management techniques. Her legal and management experience have equipped her well to oversee the firm’s modern technology, efficient human resources, and historic facilities.
All in all, with 100 years of history behind them, and the tradition of trust they have established in the community, Ellsworth Johnson & Partners has lots to talk about and to be proud of.