Charles Harrison & Sandra Banister

Practice Point


CHARLES G. HARRISON is a partner in the Labour, Employment and Human Rights practice group at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Vancouver. He represents clients in a variety of provincially regulated business sectors including utilities, municipal government, shipyards, construction, and the forest industry. He also has a substantial practice in federally regulated business sectors including maritime industries, telecommunications, trucking, railways, and air transport. Chuck provides clients with proactive and strategic labour and employment advice in the context of major projects, business restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, and dispositions. He regularly represents clients as counsel in labour arbitrations, labour board hearings, mediation, human rights and other proceedings, and has frequently presented in these areas. Called to the BC bar in 1986, Chuck is currently named in Lexpert, The Best Lawyers in Canada, and Who’s Who Legal for Labour and Employment Law. He has served on the executive of the provincial and national Canadian Bar Association’s Labour Law Section and was named an Honourary Executive Member of the national section in 2012.

SANDRA I. BANISTER, KC, leads Banister & Company, a leading progressive law firm in downtown Vancouver, specializing in civil litigation, with an emphasis on labour, employment, and personal injury law. She has practiced trade union law and civil litigation since 1982 when she was called to the BC bar. She acted as Special Counsel to the BC Transit Board on issues of successorship and contracting out, and represented the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture as Special Advisor on the Status of the Artist. Sandra has been a frequent speaker at a variety of conferences and seminars for the Trial Lawyers Association, Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, the Labour Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (BC), Lancaster House, Insight, the Centre for Labour Management, and the BC Federation of Labour. She has taught numerous labour related courses for trade unions and has organized and instructed the provincial labour law course for the annual Canadian Labour Congress Harrison Winter School since 1985. Sandra is named in Best Lawyers, and in 2011, her ability and achievements in the legal profession were recognized when she was designated Queen’s Counsel.

How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?

Charles Harrison (CH): Tony Hickling asked me to participate in a Labour Arbitration CLE in 1987 or 1988. I took the opportunity as a chance to build some profile in the labour community in which I had started practice in 1986.

Sandra Banister (SB): Tony also invited me to do a CLE presentation at UBC. That was in about 1983 and, as a very junior lawyer, I was flattered to be asked. Subsequently, I have remained involved as I believe it’s important to give back to the profession—and I love hearing myself talk.

What are you are currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?

CH: Co-chairing the annual Labour Relations course with Sandra.

SB: Co-chairing the annual Labour Relations conference with Chuck.

What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?

CH: Being referred to as a “senior” practitioner by Tony Hickling over a decade ago.

SB: About 30 years ago, when I was part way through a presentation on the Labour Code, Bruce Ralston suggested I would be the next Minister of Labour.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?

CH: Be brief and don’t read from your notes.

SB: Consider settling—there are always unanticipated risks!

What advice would you give newcomers who are interested in working in the legal profession?

CH: Find a way to gain actual exposure to the practice of law in the area(s) you are interested in. I was exposed to criminal law through a UBC clinical program and it cured me of my interest in that area.

SB: Find an area of the law that you enjoy and develop the approach that best suits your personality. Never compromise your professional integrity.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?

CH: Too early to say…. having Alan Hope ask for my opinion regarding approach in a hearing has to be right up there.

SB: Earning the respect of clients and lawyers on the opposite side.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

CH: Mountains: climbing up them and skiing down them.

SB: Travelling—everywhere!

What are some of your favourite legal resources? (blogs, websites, etc.)

CH: CanLii.

SB: My associates, Jennifer and Jonathan (I’d be lost without them!).