Greg Palm—In the Spotlight

Practice Point

Greg Palm—In the Spotlight

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?

I first became involved in a significant way with CLEBC in 2006, when my former mentor, Gordon Turriff, KC, asked me to help him write the “Costs” and “Remuneration” chapters for Annual Review of Law and Practice. I wrote those chapters with him that year – and continued writing them myself for several years thereafter – and my CLEBC “career” was off and running.

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

I still write the “Remuneration” chapter for The Annual Review of Law and Practice, the most recent edition of which came out early in the spring. At the moment, I am working on updating two chapters for Practice Before the Registrar, with the updates set to come out this fall.

What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer?

For me, there are two aspects to it. First, people tend to seek out lawyers for help with the largest transactions or most serious problems in their lives: the purchase of a home or business; seeking compensation for serious injuries; the breakdown of a relationship; criminal charges or the resolution of a major dispute. Being asked to assist in those kinds of matters both signifies our importance in a great justice system and comes with a great deal of responsibility. Second, I never wanted a career that would not challenge my mind. The kinds of work that I do challenges my mind constantly and I find winning those challenges by solving complex problems highly rewarding.

You practice in the area of commercial litigation, but you have also developed a niche practice in legal fee disputes between lawyers and their clients. What led you to specialize in this area?

I mentioned Gordon Turriff, KC, above. He is retired now, but was widely recognized as the most knowledgeable lawyer in that area for many years following his time as Registrar of the Supreme Court. I was extremely lucky to have had Gordon as my principal during my articles and as my mentor after that, and even after I moved on from working closely with him, I continued to study and practice in the field to which he exposed me and to develop a real passion for it.

You have been very active in the legal community including involvement with CLEBC, the CBA, Surrey Bar Association, PLTC, UBC Law School and Access Pro Bono. What motivates you to contribute your time?

We don’t practice or live in a vacuum. Our profession and the communities within which we practice have needs, and organizations like the CBA and the Surrey Bar Association strive to meet them. Our society is best served by having good lawyers and will need them well beyond whenever I retire, and helping out at PLTC and the UBC Law School is a small way to help bring that about. Our justice system only works if is not only for those who can pay, and pro bono services like Access Pro Bono – which I have started working with more in earnest this year – try to ensure that is the case. I contribute my time not only because I enjoy it, but because I view it as my responsibility to a society and legal system in which lawyers play a critical role.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received in terms of the practice of law?

A number of people – including famous writers like George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain – have been credited with variants of, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” I first heard it from Gordon Turriff, KC, who used it to impress upon me the importance of simplicity, conciseness, care, and repeated review and revision in producing excellent legal writing. I will never write as well as he did, but that advice still pops into my mind frequently when I am writing now, and I wholly believe writing to be one of the most important parts of what I do.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

To say that I am passionate about professional sports would be a drastic understatement. There’s hardly a sport I do not enjoy watching. I like playing golf, even though I don’t make enough time for it and therefore don’t play as well as I should, which is frustrating. Above all, though, are my three amazing children, who brighten every moment I have with them with their passion, humour, and youthful energy.