Randy Klarenbach

Practice Point


Randy Klarenbach practices in the Real Estate group at Richards Buell Sutton LLP in Vancouver, giving general business advice with a focus on real estate development and commercial leasing, and a particular emphasis on condominium law. Randy has a long history of community involvement with contributions too numerous to mention. He is a long-serving editorial board member for CLEBC’s BC Real Estate Practice Manual, and a repeat author for two of our award winning books: BC Strata Property Practice Manual and Conveyancing Deskbook. Over the years Randy has contributed to a number of CLEBC courses and will be co-chairing the June 2014 course Real Estate Fundamentals for Lawyers.

How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?

I would like to say I was dragooned by colleagues at CLEBC who played on my good nature, but the truth is that I wanted to get involved for selfish and selfless reasons. The selfish reasons were to teach courses and edit materials with senior practitioners as something close to equals and learn from them. I also found the best way to learn something was to teach it. As the fairly bright man Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it.” The selfless reason was that I wanted to pass on what feeble knowledge I had gained to others in the profession. I like to think that as I have aged (Lord have I aged) I have more knowledge to pass on, even as my faculties and ability to express that knowledge fade away.

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

I have been on the editorial board for the BC Real Estate Practice Manual for what seems like several hundred years, in particular with Doug Bolton and Craig Shirreff, two learned and decent fellows who have carried me for decades, and the able editorial assistance of Joy Tataryn of CLEBC. I have also cut a wide and hopefully not too devastating swath through a dozen or so CLEBC courses as a lecturer, mostly on real estate and a few general business courses.

What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?

The one I remember most is a course I taught many years ago on leasing commercial strata lots. I prepared enough material to hopefully fill out 45 minutes but planned to try to speak off the cuff to avoid simply reading the printed material. I was concerned I would run out of things to say, but found myself 40 minutes into the presentation having covered only 10% of my material. The lesson I think was two-fold: first, lawyers do not know how to shut up; and second, we often know more than we think about our area.

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

A client told me years ago that lawyers have one thing backwards. When we want to succeed and make more money, we work harder, when what we should do is work smarter. I thought that was brilliant, although I have no idea how to implement that advice.

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

I think the most important thing to remember is that our clients do not want scholarly discourse. They want a solid answer to a specific problem. Remember that most of the time, clients only call their lawyer because they have a problem that they cannot solve. I wish my clients would call me to talk about the Canucks, but they generally don’t want to pay me hundreds of dollars to learn what I think of the Sedins. I think the goal is to be your client’s trusted advisor, not their expensive hired gun.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

The obvious answer is the collegial atmosphere and rewarding interplay with CLEBC, but aside from that joy, and aside from the money, it has honestly been the relationships with some really decent people, and the opportunity to help solve some problems. It is life affirming (though it happens rarely) to come up with a clever solution to a really tricky problem that makes a client`s life a lot easier.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

Antiquarian books and Paris; also the novel Starship Troopers. My friends will vouch for these items as I pontificate endlessly on all three.

What are some of your favourite legal resources? (blogs, websites, etc.)

The practice is changing massively in this regard. I clerked for a year and knew the library intimately, but now students have a vast array of electronic resources available that I only dimly understand. I am ashamed to say that Google is one of my most trusted resources (other than CLEBC of course, which is a veritable treasure trove of legal genius).

Anything you’d like to shamelessly promote? (favourite charity, book, social cause, etc.)

Nothing in particular, but I entreat any young lawyer to volunteer for something. This job can crush you and it is very important to have something to give yourself to that is not about billing and clients. Make a difference in something that matters to you.