Richard Wagner earned a Bachelor of Social Sciences (B.Soc.Sc.) with a major in Political Science from the University of Ottawa in 1978, graduating cum laude. He received a Licentiate in Laws (LL.L.) from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law in 1979, also graduating cum laude.
Richard Wagner was called to the Quebec Bar in 1980 and practised law until being appointed to the Quebec Superior Court on September 24, 2004. He was a partner in the law firm of Lavery, de Billy (formerly Lavery, O’Brien and Lavery, Johnston, Clark, Carrière, Mason & Associés) from 1980 to 2004. He argued cases before all the Quebec courts and quasi-judicial tribunals, as well as before the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 1998, he was a founding Fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers (CCCL). In 1989-90 and in 2001, he taught trial advocacy courses at the École du Barreau du Québec. He was elected First Councillor of the Bar of Montréal for 2000-2001 before being elected Bâtonnier of the Bar of Montréal for 2001-2002.
On September 24, 2004, Richard Wagner was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court for the District of Montréal, where he sat in the Civil Division, the Commercial Division and the Criminal Division. He was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal on February 3, 2011.
In June 2005, he received the Barreau du Québec’s Award of Merit in recognition of his contribution to the legal profession and, in particular, to the creation of the Centre d’accès à l’information juridique (CAIJ) which has provided access to legal information for members of the profession throughout Quebec since 2002. He was a member of the CAIJ’s board of directors and its vice-president until being appointed to the Quebec Superior Court.
He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 5, 2012 and appointed Chief Justice of Canada, December 18, 2017.