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Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, John Rafferty moved to Nova Scotia to attend Saint Mary’s University. It was there he earned his Bachelor of Arts, which he followed up with a year of graduate studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, before returning to SMU for his Bachelor of Education.

John spent a little over a year teaching math before deciding to pursue the law at Dalhousie University. He articled with Burchell MacDougall’s Truro office, and joined the firm as an associate in 1977.

“Burchell MacDougall appealed to me because I wanted to get out of the city, but not too far,” John explains, “And my friend John MacDougall, son of founding partner Lorne MacDougall, was working here and had great things to say about the firm.”

John’s practice is diverse, and includes municipal and personal injury law. He serves as the solicitor for the Town of Truro, as well as being a litigator for personal injury plaintiffs.

“Personal injury has really become a specialized practice,” he says, “And most PI lawyers are in the city. Burchell MacDougall is here; we’re convenient, accessible and flexible for local clients.”

He also works with the Lawyer’s Insurance Association of Nova Scotia in regards to negligence claims, and with the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society as a receiver for the practices of lawyers who have passed away or been disbarred.

John was appointed Queens Counsel in 1995.

Outside of the office, he has been involved with the Meals on wheels program in Truro since its inception. He also enjoys gardening, playing duplicate bridge, and sailing a small boat.

Practice Areas
  • Personal Injury
  • Employment and Labour Relations
  • Estate Litigation
  • Insurance Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Administrative Law
  • Municipal Law

Professional Qualifications & Education:

  • Nova Scotia Bar Admission 1977
  • St. Mary’s University (B.A., 1971, B. Ed., 1973)
  • McMaster University
  • Dalhousie University (LL.B., 1977)
  • Queens Counsel Appointment 1995.

Professional Associations & Membership in Community Organizations:

  • Member, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
  • Member, Canadian Bar Association
  • Former Director and Past Chair of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Liability Claims Fund
  • Former Director, Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association
  • Treasurer, East End Meals on Wheels
  • Past Secretary and Director, Colchester Community Workshops Foundation

Personal Injury

  • Represented many individuals injured in accidents
  • Represented dependents in fatal accidents
  • Advanced and recovered claims for past and future income loss and personal care costs

Employment Law and Labour Relations

  • Represented numerous employers and employees in wrongful dismissal claims
  • Acted for employers in grievance arbitrations
  • Acted for both employers and unions in certification proceedings
  • Negotiated numerous collective agreements

Estate Litigation

  • Acted in court proceedings to prove or contest wills because of issues of competence, undue influence and proper signing of the will
  • Brought applications to Court for interpretation of unclear parts of wills
  • Acted in Testators Family Maintenance applications where the Claimant alleged there was inadequate provision in the will


  • Represented both claimants and insurance companies in long term disability claims
  • Negligence claims
  • Property damage claims
  • Represented both claimants and defendants in professional negligence claims

Civil Litigation

  • Personal injury claims
  • Insurance claims
  • Estate trials and applications
  • Professional negligence claims

Administrative Law

  • Appeared before many administrative tribunals
  • Appeared in union certification hearings
  • Acted for parties in grievance arbitrations
  • Acted for professional regulator in investigating and administrating members’ practices
  • Obtained Orders quashing decisions of administrative tribunals

Municipal Law

  • Solicitor for the Town of Truro