John Rafferty, QC receives 2020 Distinguished Service Award

The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society recently announced John Rafferty, QC of Burchell MacDougall LLP as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award (DSA).

Established in 1999, this award is presented to a member who has made significant contributions to their community, the legal profession and to the Society. Burchell MacDougall founding partner Lorne MacDougall was the first recipient of the award in 2000.

This award is typically presented at the Society's annual Recognition Reception, which is cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions; however, they hope to present the DSA in the spring or summer of 2021. 

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, John moved to Nova Scotia for his Bachelor of Arts at Saint Mary’s University. He followed his BA with a year of graduate studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario before returning to Saint Mary’s University for his Bachelor of Education. John taught math for little over a year before he decided to pursue law. He earned his law degree from Dalhousie University and was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1977. 

Throughout his career, John has contributed significantly to his community, the legal profession and to the Society. He has been with Burchell MacDougall for over 40 years and has developed a well-earned reputation as a knowledgeable, competent, and ethical lawyer with high professional integrity. In 1995, John received his Queen’s Counsel designation. 

John has a long history of service to his profession including as a member of the Society’s Council from 1990-1993 and 1997-2001. For 15 years, he was the Director and Past Chair of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Liability Claims Fund. He was also a member and Chair of the Loss Prevention Committee and of the Nova Scotia Bar Admissions Course Committee. John was the Director of Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association from 1983-2003 and he has also been a member of the Canadian Bar Association since 1975 having served on the CBA Standing Committee on Equality from 1994-1997.

Over the years, John has worked actively in party politics both at the federal and provincial levels. He has lectured and presented at CLE events and for Bar Admission courses and has authored many learned articles distributed by the Society and the Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association. He is also frequently engaged by the Society to act on its behalf in practice reviews and receiverships, and on behalf of LIANS in defence of professional liability claims.

A leader within his community, John was previously the solicitor for the Town of Truro. He founded the Truro East End Meals on Wheels program, was the founding director of Colchester Community Workshops Foundation and a founding president for The Dimas Society, operators of Lavers House, a halfway house for ex-offenders. He spearheads many community activities and has dedicated his time to the Truro District School Band Auxiliary, Truro & District Human Rights and Affirmative Action Committee, Truro Boys and Girls Club and Truro Tennis Club.