James Vilvang, KC

Practice Point


JIM VILVANG is a senior partner with the Litigation group at Richards Buell Sutton LLP. He was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 1974 and in the Yukon in 1994. Jim is also a Qualified Commercial Mediator. He was awarded Queen’s Counsel status in 1996.

Jim has been a distinguished and recognized trial lawyer for over 40 years and is highly regarded by all sectors of the bar for his work ethic, insight, and love of the legal profession.

How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?

To the best of my recollection, the first CLE course I taught was on Provincial Court criminal practice, probably in the late 1970s. I believe a co-presenter was Anne MacKenzie (now Madam Justice MacKenzie of the Court of Appeal). When asked why I got involved, I guess the reality is that I was flattered to be asked, so I agreed to do it.

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

I am currently getting ready to co-chair the 2016 Personal Injury Conference on June 10. I also recently edited a chapter of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Manual.

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

I think the most valuable advice I have received in the CLE context would be: “The talks should be well prepared (generally this means that the speaker should have done a paper), brief (I think 20 minutes is the max unless the person is an exceptionally gifted speaker with a fascinating topic), and practical (generally the lawyers want information they can use in their daily practice, not academic speeches about legal theory)”. When I chair a seminar, I always try to keep these criteria in mind.

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

I would tell people interested in a legal career that my personal experience has been wonderful, and I would highly recommend the profession to most. There is no such thing as “the lawyer type”. The range of areas of practice is so large that just about anyone can find an area of law that suits their personality. Whenever I think I’ve got it rough, I think of the guy hanging on a rope outside my window seven stories up, on a rainy, windy day, washing my windows. That makes me remember that this isn’t a bad job.

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

Working with intelligent lawyers who are also decent people.

Anything you’d like to shamelessly promote?

As I mentioned above, I treasure the relationships I have developed with my colleagues over the years. Even though opposing counsel and I may be adversaries, I always try to keep my dealings as collegial as possible, and I encourage all lawyers to act in the spirit of civility and collegiality.