CEO Transition: Farewell to Ron Friesen and Welcome to Linda Russell

CLEBC Staff | May 8, 2017

Ron Friesen: A Distinguished Career

Ron Friesen

Ron Friesen’s journey with CLEBC started 32 years ago as a volunteer instructor with the Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC), a part of CLEBC at the time. He was a junior corporate commercial lawyer, graduate of University of Victoria Law School, and previous manager of recreation facilities.

After volunteering with PLTC, Ron successfully obtained a permanent position with CLEBC as a PLTC Instructor and then moved on to become Manager of Curriculum Development, Program Lawyer, Director of Programs, Director of Education, and finally CEO.

Over the course of three decades, the advancement of technology has been the biggest change Ron has seen to the legal profession and to CLEBC.

Initially, Ron found it challenging to effectively provide CLEBC courses for lawyers outside Vancouver, due to the expense of videotaping live courses and couriering tapes. Although technology eventually enabled lawyers to view PowerPoint slides online and listen to audio over the phone, internet bandwidth was inconsistent and phone fees were expensive. However, everything changed when bandwidth quality increased and CLEBC invested in infrastructure to produce live online streaming for courses. This led to cost-effective delivery of more courses, as live streaming made it possible for lawyers province-wide to access courses online from the comfort of their offices.

Another big change was CLEBC’s decision in the late 1980s to begin publishing practice manuals. CLEBC’s model of volunteer authors writing book chapters and respected editorial boards reviewing entire books continues to this day. In publishing, technology and online content has allowed new opportunities such as click-through references to primary law, and soon, even real-time updates to online books.

On the horizon, Ron sees lawyers’ interests moving away from traditional courses and books towards practical solutions to immediate problems. So with continued progress, CLEBC is currently working on pulling content from various books and courses to create unique online packages that answer lawyers’ specific issues.

Ron’s proudest achievements as CLEBC’s CEO revolve around the theme of change within the legal profession. In particular, Ron is proud of developing alternative dispute resolution training, encouraging CLEBC to recruit more female lawyers as faculty, supporting access to justice for children, working on Truth and Reconciliation projects, and the relationships he has built with other legal organizations.

For CLEBC, Ron has this parting message: “I love CLEBC. I’ve had a fabulous career and love that the work is always changing. I will miss the thoughtful and professional people I work with each day, and hope that CLEBC continues to strive to be an outstanding organization that works with the legal profession.”

CLEBC thanks Ron Friesen for his 32 years of service and dedication, and wishes him all the best with retirement adventures of travelling, spending time with family, playing guitar, canoeing, and hiking. To Ron!

Linda Russell: An Exciting New Chapter

Linda Russell

CLEBC is delighted to announce the appointment of Linda Russell as CEO effective July 1, 2017 on the retirement of Ron Friesen.

Linda comes to CLEBC from a background of success with California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB), a leading North American continuing legal education organization which supports almost 190,000 actively practising Californian lawyers. During her 19 years with CEB, Linda has served as a Publications and Programs Attorney, Civil Litigation Practice Group Manager, and most recently Director of Content Development.

Prior to CEB, Linda was a litigation attorney for a large private law firm and corporate counsel for Bank of America. Linda received her Juris Doctor from University of California’s Hastings College of the Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

With an outstanding reputation amongst her peers for leadership and creativity, Linda is an active member of the international continuing legal education community. She currently serves as an Executive Committee Director for the Association for Continuing Legal Education. As a leader, Linda is a talented people manager able to motivate and develop engaged, high-performing teams.

“We are thrilled to have Linda Russell join our team,” says CLEBC Board Chair, Rolf Warburton. “We've selected a strong leader when CLEBC is in a strong position. Legal education is evolving at a dramatic pace. Legal professionals are experiencing disruptive changes to the industry, and more than ever they require evolving knowledge, skills, and resources to navigate these changes, serve their clients, and support access to justice. Our next CEO brings a wealth of experience in increasing emphasis on customer outreach, supporting outstanding volunteer contributors, implementing technology to improve service, and streamlining processes to ensure an outstanding return for customer investments in legal education.”

For CLEBC and the BC legal profession, Linda would like to share that "I am delighted to join this esteemed organization dedicated to providing exceptional continuing education and practice tools to the BC legal community. I am excited about getting to know the entire CLEBC team and Board, and hearing their thoughts and ideas regarding CLEBC’s future direction. In our community, as elsewhere, the legal profession is undergoing a multitude of changes driven in large part by technological advances in the delivery of legal content. I believe the current environment provides an opportunity for CLEBC to provide innovative products uniquely suited to the needs of established practitioners as well as an emerging generation of new lawyers.”

With great excitement, CLEBC looks forward to Linda Russell’s leadership and ingenuity, and welcomes her to both CLEBC and Vancouver!