HELEN LOW, QC practices at the Vancouver office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in the wills, trusts, and estates area, where she focuses on contentious matters that may lead to litigation. Helen practices with her solicitor colleagues in the trust and estates group, and has some involvement in estate planning, usually for clients who want to avoid future litigation. She co-teaches the Succession course at the Faculty of Law at UBC and is a contributing author for a number of CLEBC publications related to estates law. Helen is a frequent speaker in the estates area. In 2014 she was appointed Queen’s Counsel.
How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?
It’s been so long ago that I do not entirely recall how I got first involved. I recall being asked to revamp and rewrite the entirety of the Wills Variation Chapter in the Probate & Estate Administration Practice Manual (likely around 10 plus years ago) as it had become a patchwork piece as a result of different contributors each year taking a different approach, with different writing and organizing styles. That was a big endeavour but it was very interesting and an incredible learning experience to read so much wills variation caselaw in such a compact period of time.
What are you are currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
Currently, Genevieve Taylor and I are organizing the 2 day Estate Planning and Estate Litigation Update Conference that is held once every 2 years. It will be held on October 6 and 7, 2016 and always has the most topical matters being taught by the most sought after speakers.
What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?
I would say that it would be the CLE-TV broadcast regarding the introduction of WESA that Genevieve and I co-hosted. The whole experience gave me a feel for what Diane Sawyer’s life is like and really, even with a tele-prompter, it is more difficult than being in court. As the WESA broadcast was viewed by a wide audience, outside of just estate practitioners, it was widely viewed and many comments were received on how I looked on “television”. It made me quite self-conscious.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
Well, if you mean in relation to CLEBC, then I would say, “Do not wear black clothes when presenting at a CLE course”. Seriously, as I have black hair, with a black suit on, I look like a beheaded bobbing flat face on the screen for all those who are attending on-line. If you mean in general, that is too difficult to answer. It would probably go back to those kindergarten lessons – be nice to others, share, don’t budge and wash your hands.
What advice would you give newcomers interested in working in the legal profession?
Learn as much as you can, from all sources, including CLEBC and the instructors who give their time to CLEBC. Also, don’t be afraid to ask. I get a few calls each week from young (and not so young) lawyers who need a bit of help or someone to bounce a question against. Those who also often do so outside of that forum.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
I have always enjoyed helping clients resolve their conflicts and that satisfaction keeps me in private practice. However, it has been the relationships with people with whom I have worked that has been most rewarding (both within my firm and within the bar) and provides me with the incentive to stay the course after more than 28 years.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
I love food. All food.
What are some of your favourite legal resources?
As a luddite, I enjoy the old-fashioned library (courthouse, Allard School of Law, FMD firm or otherwise) and literally flipping through resource materials and books, reading page by page. I like to read the table of contents and the index. Often, when you are not looking up a specific matter, you learn the most as you have not pigeon-holed your issue and question.