How did you first get involved with CLEBC?
My first CLEBC presentation was part of a conference connected to the national pro bono conference hosted in Vancouver in 2008. I was practicing in New York at that time and I’m not sure how anyone knew that I would be in Vancouver at that time or that I would be interested in speaking but somehow I was invited to speak about my experience doing pro bono work at a large international firm.
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
I will be co-chairing Appellate Practice 2021 on November 22.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I grew up with two lawyer parents who had interesting and rewarding jobs.
After clerking for Justice Iacobucci at the Supreme Court of Canada, you decided to commence your practice in New York. What inspired you to go there, and what inspired you to return to Vancouver?
I didn’t have much of a plan coming out of law school. The New York firms recruited on campus at my law school and I thought I would give it a try for a couple of years until I figured out a plan. Six years later, I realized I had forgotten to quit and decided it was time to come home and put down roots.
You are very active in the legal community, particularly in the area of pro bono services. What motivates you to give back to the profession?
When I started practicing in New York, we were encouraged to take on a pro bono matter in our first year. I worked on a pro bono asylum claim representing a political dissident from Togo. Everything about that file was a first for me – I advised my first client without supervision, drafted my first affidavit, conducted my first cross-examinations, made my first oral submission in court. We were successful: my client and his family got to stay in the United States, and I caught the pro bono bug. The pro bono files I took in the years following both in New York and since I returned to British Columbia in 2010 have provided me with many more professional firsts as well as providing some of the most personally enriching experiences of my professional life. In recent years, one of the things that has motivated me to stay involved in providing pro bono services has been getting to share the experience of young lawyers as they catch the pro bono bug and find ways to integrate pro bono work into their practices to do well while also doing good.
What advice would you pass on to a newly called lawyer?
Take a pro bono file in your first year of practice!
Other than law, what are you passionate about?