This month’s spotlight is on longtime CLEBC contributor Dick Chan of Spagnuolo & Company Real Estate Lawyers. Dick practises in the area of residential real estate and is a prolific chair, presenter, and author for CLEBC’s real estate courses and publications.
How did you first get involved with CLEBC?
I presented at my first CLEBC course in 2002 when Tony Spagnuolo was unable to do so. Although I was more than a little disappointed when I was not invited back the following year, I was pleasantly surprised by the invitation to present again in 2005, and I have been participating every year since.
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
I am currently working on Conveyancing Basics for Legal Support Staff. This conveyancing course is held annually, alternating between topics of interest to junior and senior conveyancers. I have also been involved in the annual updating of CLEBC’s Conveyancing Deskbook since 2005 and reviewing of the Real Estate Practice Checklist since 2014.
How has your experience contributing to CLEBC been?
I have immensely enjoyed my involvement with CLEBC. The commitment of CLEBC staff to produce a quality product and the support provided to ensure that faculty succeed (and look good doing so) has made it easy for me to stay involved. It has also been a pleasure to work with faculty, both lawyers and non-lawyers, who are knowledgeable (sometimes intimidatingly so) in the field.
You have been very active in the legal community including involvement with CLEBC, UBC Law Students Legal Advice Program, and Access Justice Pro Bono Clinic. What motivates you to contribute your time?
Why wouldn’t I volunteer? It’s good for me (physically and spiritually) to make a difference, meet new colleagues, generate good karma, and make mom proud. In the grand scheme of things, the investment in time has been minimal.
What are the rewards and challenges of your practice?
As with most lawyers, it’s always rewarding to hear a client’s sigh of relief when an issue is resolved. A significant challenge that arises from the nature of residential real estate practice is that there is very little time to deal with problems that arise before the completion date. Time for research and consideration is a rare luxury. As a solicitor, my instinct is to save the deal which requires flexibility rather than standing on strict rights and obligations. I would suggest that generally, even when things go wrong, our clients do want to complete – or at least they want to avoid litigation. As stated by Madam Justice Southin in Salama Enterprises (1988) Inc. v. Grewal (1992), 90 D.L.R. (4th) 146 (B.C.C.A.) at 149 quoting the English Court of Appeal: “It cannot be too often stated that conveyancing, especially to those who would regard it as a science, is nothing if it is not practical.”
What advice would you give to new lawyers?
I would encourage new lawyers to attend CLEBC and CBA courses, as well as any other functions where lawyers might congregate. It’s important to know others in the profession outside your own office. I always appreciate the opportunity to call others for advice and am flattered when others call me for my thoughts.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
This will be the first time that Dick Chan and passionate have ever been used in the same sentence. Now that my boys are grown, I do enjoy date nights with my wife where burgers and sushi are not on the menu.