2019 LAPBC Gratitude Lunch Honours Jim Carroll

By Julia Chalifoux

A recent impromptu visit to Vancouver and the TLABC office allowed me the opportunity to attend the 2019 LAPBC Gratitude Lunch at the Vancouver Courthouse Restaurant with 5 of my fellow TLABC staff members and 2 members of the TLABC Board.

The purpose of the Gratitude Lunch as it states on the LAPBC website is to honour a member of the legal community who has been selfless in his or her actions, and showed great dedication to helping lawyers in need.

This year, The Lawyers Assistance Program honoured Jim Carroll with the “Lawyer Helping Lawyer Award”.

It was inspiring to listen to Jim speak so honestly about his experiences with alcoholism and recovery, and how LAPBC had been of great service to him when he was a young and struggling lawyer.

Today, Jim is paying it forward and dedicates many of his efforts to helping other lawyers in similar situations.

I left the Gratitude Lunch feeling hopeful. Hopeful, that there would be others in the room, like me, feeling inspired. Hopeful that there would be more brave and honest individuals like Jim in the future, speaking up and out about “taboo” subjects such as alcoholism and addiction. And lastly, hopeful Jim’s words would bring optimism, hope and courage to someone in that room that was silently struggling.

“One person speaking up makes more noise than a thousand people who remain silent”
– Thom Harnett

 

About LAPBC
LAPBC is an independent organization of members of the BC legal community (lawyers, judges, families and support staff). We provide peer support and referral services to help people deal with personal problems – including alcohol and drug dependence, stress and anxiety, depression and other issues. Our committed volunteers and staff provide confidential, compassionate, and knowledgeable help; core services include outreach, support and education.

We seek to foster collegiality among our peers and to promote health and well-being in our communities.

Whether you are seeking information for yourself or someone else, the LAPBC website aims to help. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The easiest way to reach us is to phone 604.685.2171 or 1.888.685.2171. Someone will answer your call or you will be connected to a confidential voice message box. If you leave a message, we will return your call as soon as possible. The service is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, so there’s no need to worry about calling when the office is closed.

Third Edition of New Lawyers Retreat Meets Rave Reviews

The 3rd edition of the New Lawyers Retreat took place the last weekend of April – April 26-28. This year we drove just a little further up the Sea to Sky highway to end the Westin Whistler hotel. Almost 50 new lawyers, seasoned legal mentors, speakers and sponsors came together for a weekend of education, networking and mentorship.

Guests got to know one another on Friday night with a casual reception. Giant Jenga and air hockey helped break the ice and got everyone connecting!

IMG_2561

Saturday’s education kicked off with the ever-popular Judge David St.Pierre, who spoke about challenges that arise with self-represented litigants in the courtroom. He gave some great tips on dealing with specific situations.

Next up was Law Society Bencher, Karen Snowshoe. Karen shared her emotional story of her family history and the significant challenges that they faced. She emphasized the need for awareness of diversity in law, and the importance of mental well-being.

J.A. Pankiw-Petty gave a fascinating presentation about jury focus groups. It’s about setting the scene and telling a story.

Kyla Lee and Paul Doroshenko QC wrapped up the formal presentations by teaching the audience how to be media savvy. They shared some great info on how to build your personal brand and set yourself up for being a contact to whom the media reaches out.

The education concluded with a mentorship session with the speakers, as well as seasoned lawyers who volunteered their weekend to coach the new lawyers. They broke into small groups and had a chance to ask questions about work-life balance, client management, and the key to a successful practice, and more from their amazing mentors.

The weekend concluded with a delicious dinner where all the attendees came together one more time to celebrate new learning, new connections and new friends. If you were a part of this year’s retreat, thank you. If you didn’t attend this year, maybe we’ll see you in 2020!

 

IMG_2609

I also wanted to quickly say thank you for all the hard work you and your team put into making such an amazing weekend for everyone! I was already very excited to be able to learn from the senior lawyers, but the seminars and “speed dating” rounds with all mentors on Saturday blew my expectations away. I learned so much from this weekend, and really hope I’ll have a chance to stay involved with future TLABC events!” –Yeoman Liang

 

TLABC Statement on Expert Report Announcement – February 11, 2019

TLABC_CMYK 

For Immediate Release – February 11, 2019

Vancouver, BC. – TLABC supports any reasonable effort to at making our system of civil justice fairer, faster and cheaper. However, today the Attorney General David Eby announced sweeping changes to the number of experts that can testify on behalf of even the most grievously injured British Columbians. It is concerning to TLABC that the Attorney General, who is responsible for the administration of justice for all British Columbians, is forcing such severe restrictions on a victim’s right to prosecute her or his claim to the sole benefit of one party, ICBC.

Of particular concern, TLABC understands that the Attorney General is forcing these changes unilaterally. He is doing so despite protest from the independent Rules Committee, which is comprised of justices of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and a number of senior lawyers from around the province from various areas of practice, including lawyers who do defense work for ICBC. Further, it should concern all British Columbians the Attorney General has passed these changes behind closed cabinet doors by Order in Council, thereby precluding public debate in the legislature.

Passing such consequential changes to our system of civil justice with no legislative debate is undemocratic. Time and again this government seems to favor ICBC’s financial interests over the legal rights of British Columbians, and this rush to pass restrictions on how victims of negligence must prove their cases at law is the most recent illustration of making car accident victims pay for reckless driving.

TLABC expects to have further comment to these proposed changes when the Order in Council is made public.

-30-

About TLABC

The mission of the Trial Lawyers’ Association of BC is to support and promote the rights of individuals in British Columbia.

For media or other enquiries:

Todd Hauptman, Public Affairs Director

todd@tlabc.org / 604-696-6519

 

Not a goodbye… but a thank you.

download

As I begin to wrap up my final week at TLABC, it’s impossible not to ride a rollercoaster of reflection of the past 12 years of my life at this association.  It has been a wild and wonderful time and certainly not without its challenges, but every twist and turn has brought me to who I am now – and for that, I am enormously grateful.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with an AMAZING team, I’ve grown as a person and a professional, and I have had the support and love of my colleagues every step of the way.  Choosing to move into a new realm is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– Winnie The Pooh

I want to send my appreciation for our Board, members, associates, sponsors and friends.  There aren’t adequate words to express my gratitude for your passion, your work and your commitment to justice in BC.

Instead, I will leave you with my final column for the Verdict magazine, as it encompasses my thoughts as I move forward.

All the best,

Megan Ejack
Development Director – TLABC

 

THE ETHICS OF PAC –
from the upcoming issue of the Verdict magazine

“Do the right thing.  The ethical path can be lonely, hard, costly… but you’ll never lose self-respect, and that’s priceless and fragile.”  – Waylon Lewis

They say that to have integrity means to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.  In our profession, however, they’re all always watching – the media, the government, our members and the public.  What will TLABC do, say, or respond in the face of the issues that affect BC citizens…?

It can be a double-edged sword – or, it can be an opportunity.

In the face of sometimes unfortunate misperceptions about the legal profession, TLABC embraces the opportunity to show the citizens of our province that we are willing to stand up for their rights, and the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is what gives us a voice to carry though with that promise.

It’s all about integrity – of the work itself and of those who dedicate themselves to doing that work.

At TLABC, we have a small, specialized staff, but our network of committees, including the Board of Governors and Executive Committee, is made up entirely of volunteers.  These volunteers are regular members – BC lawyers who choose to go above and beyond to help protect our justice system.  To support those who give their time on these task forces, many others also choose to contribute dollars to the PAC fund.  Some of them donate to a specific cause or campaign, while others are ongoing monthly donors, trusting in the process of the TLABC leadership.  Every dollar is extremely appreciated – no amount of time or money is insignificant.

As Development Director for the past ten years, I have seen the frontlines of this commitment to justice, firsthand.  I have worked with these ‘volunteers’ and I’m proud of what we have all been able to achieve in the name of this association.  We have made great strides, yet we will continue to push for justice in BC.  It is often hard and sometimes thankless and we don’t always take the time to celebrate the successes, so today I say… thank you.

From me to all of you:

Thank you for your time, your energy, your ethics and your integrity.  Thank you for the early meetings and late-night strategy sessions, for your humour after long days and all the inside jokes, for the friendship and support, the banter and respect, but most of all for your dedication to the cause. 

Integrity is defined as both “the quality of having strong moral principles” and “the state of being whole and undivided.”  Both of which we do and are. 

Regardless of what challenges may arise, I’m confident that the work will get done because of this. 

This will be the spirit of our legacy, and I’m proud to have been part of it.

 

Why We Fight

The following is a piece written by lawyer, Mike Campbell, a member of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA) – our cousin association in Missouri.  

For those who may need a reminder, at times like these…

 

WHY WE FIGHT – By Mike Campbell, MATA

“Can you draw the pedal for me?”

That’s the only question I can remember from my deposition. I was around nine years old and I wasn’t frightened by the man asking me questions, or by the scary person wearing a mask at the end of the table (who I would later discover was a court reporter). I was frightened because I had no artistic ability whatsoever. I could, at that time, remember watching the pedal break and witnessing my dad have a catastrophic injury that would later take his life.

I could remember my dad work on the pedal in our garage in Kansas City. But, I couldn’t draw it and I was scared. But, then I heard, “objection.” Relief came over me. You see, I had a superhero with me, watching over me, protecting me from scary questions and scary people.

I recently had to fill out a questionnaire asking me to explain why I wanted to practice law. Here’s my response:

“Many years ago my family experienced a tragedy that put us right in the middle of the legal world. As a result, my superheroes growing up did not wear capes; they wore suits and carried briefcases. They argued in courtrooms and fought tooth and nail for my family. I’ll always be indebted to those attorneys and I think they know that. That’s the power we have as attorneys and we should always remember the lifelong impact we have on our clients.”

That’s the truth. That’s my truth, anyway. 

When I was five years old my dad purchased a brand new bicycle from a bike shop in Kansas. Both my godfather and I agreed to ride back in my dad’s truck while my dad rode behind us at a safe distance. I watched through the rear window as he wrecked. Memories are funny, though. I can no longer recall the wreck or much that happened shortly after. There’s a slideshow of memories though: Wrestling with my dad in a hospital bed one of the numerous times he was having surgeries, meeting with attorneys, my dad’s funeral. Good memories, sad memories.

My dad suffered a catastrophic injury when the pedal on his brand-new bicycle snapped off halfway through a cycle. He fell into the bike and suffered substantial internal injuries. He was later treated at a medical facility in Kansas, and his care was completely mismanaged. There are things that happened to him that I cannot write out of respect for his privacy and for what he went through. However, the result of the doctor’s actions led to undetected blood clotting, which traveled to an artery. He suffered a massive heart attack in our home and died in my mom’s arms.

My mom was left to raise four kids, alone. We had limited means at that time and my dad had been the primary provider for my family. When my dad died, we were broke…mentally, spiritually and financially.

Before my dad died, I can remember wearing clothes from the Salvation Army, shopping for food at the local Aldi (before Aldi was a thing), going to mass every Sunday morning and not having many concerns about our lot in life. We were a family and we loved each other, and had a roof over our head and food to eat. My dad and my mom cared for us. When my dad died, I’ll never know the stress my mom went through. I never want to know.

A close friend of the family talked to my mom about investigating my dad’s case. He was an attorney with a law firm in Kansas City who pleaded with his firm to investigate this case. The background to this is literally something you might read in a legal novel, but know this: This lawyer was relentless, was willing to give up everything to fight for the case, and nearly did. There is too much to the story to share here, but that is where I came to know that the passion which drives good and decent trial attorneys is not money. Money comes and goes. What drives good and decent trial attorneys is justice and a desire to help the helpless.

This attorney discovered a number of troubling things when he investigated our case. First, the bike manufacturer skimped on buying the proper parts for the bicycle pedal-and-gear mechanism. Instead of finding the right part, the company ordered the employees at a manufacturing plant to literally jam and hammer the defective parts into the bike. Our lawyer went to the manufacturing plant and witnessed for himself how the defect occurred during the process, and how it was known to the company. The employees openly admitted that they knew the defective part would cause harm to someone and told management, who ignored them.

The bike company had been warned multiple times about the shaft snapping on the pedals, leading to bicycle returns at stores throughout the United States. The manufacturer never recalled the bikes. Either the company didn’t believe someone could be catastrophically injured from this defect or it did, and simply did the cold math: A potential lawsuit versus a nationwide recall of bicycles. They decided to go with the risk of a lawsuit. Our attorney also discovered that the doctor who was treating my dad permanently damaged him, the result of which would eventually lead to my dad’s death. The attorney was convinced that both the manufacturer and the doctor were responsible for my dad’s death. He talked with my mom at length about the steps the family should take to hold those parties responsible. My mom agreed and we eventually filed suit against both.

My mom is as mentally and physically tough as they come. Here’s one story to prove that: After my family filed suit against the manufacturer of the defective bicycle, our case was forced into mediation. In our case, the judge who was mediating the case told my mom she should take a certain amount of money and run. Our attorneys told her to stand firm, that the sum she was offered was paltry in light of how much we had lost. My mom listened to our attorney’s advice. The judge brought her into an open courtroom in front of all the attorneys and told her that she was a terrible mother for not accepting the settlement and then he actually appointed a guardian and conservator for her children (including me) because of how terrible he said her judgment was. Our attorneys protected her and she believed in them.  The judge eventually relented and retracted his own order. My mom trusted her attorneys. She was right to… and she will tell you that. My mom is tough.

There are other stories I can tell you: Spending my early childhood in courtrooms, law offices, and learning about lawsuits while other kids played catch with their dad or did what normal kids do. I enjoyed it though. My attorneys were my superheroes. I liked being around them. I started to think that one day I could become one too.

When our case against the manufacturer was finally resolved several years later, we had received a small amount of justice. The manufacturer of the bicycle eventually settled with my family… and with several others. It turns out many people had been injured by these defective bikes and the company’s calculated risks didn’t pay off. There are horror stories I could share about this case and the dirty tricks played by the actors involved that are nearly unbelievable. Someday, maybe I’ll share them.

John Grisham has done a pretty decent job describing cruel company decisions in many of his books. But know this: A company that makes its financial decisions by weighing a human life versus profits will go to any lengths to protect those profits. I’ve seen this first-hand in my own practice and in my own life.  The cases against this specific corporation against eventually drove it into bankruptcy, got its terrible bikes off the road, and reformed certain manufacturing processes.

All of this was possible because of the trial lawyers who helped us. They believed in us, fought for us and did everything they could to make our family whole. I am friends with them to this day. The main attorney who took our case taught me how to shoot a gun for the first time, his wife taught me the alphabet when I was very young and he has stayed in touch throughout my entire life. He and his family are family to me.

I see a lot of negative talk about trial attorneys. For me, for my family, and for countless others, trial attorneys are who stood up and demanded that the parties who cause harm are held responsible for their actions.

No amount of money could bring my dad back, but at least that bicycle manufacturer was unable to produce any more defective bikes. While the rest of the world moved on after my dad’s death, attorneys working in the background fought to give his death meaning. They fought for a single mother of four who had no money to her name.

I am now a trial attorney. I am proud to call myself a trial attorney. But trial attorneys are under attack.  We are told by well-paid politicians that trial attorneys are causing businesses to go under and insurance rates to go up. My experience is that businesses go under because they are bad businesses, and insurance rates go up because insurance companies like to make money.

The people who throw these accusations around don’t know the attorneys who helped my mom and my family. They don’t know me. They don’t know my colleagues. They don’t understand that most of the laws they pass don’t affect trial attorneys; they affect the people trial attorneys represent. These politicians work to the benefit of a corporation or a company that has done some harm or wants to do something harmful, only cheaper and with no consequence.

Politicians should know this: There’s no law they can pass to stop trial attorneys from trying cases and working hard for their clients. I can understand how a politician who is more accountable to large donors than to the citizens of his or her district might be told (or even believe) that a trial attorney would have a financial motive to file more lawsuits. Maybe that mistaken perspective is all they have known.

But, real trial lawyers like the attorneys who worked on my family’s case and the colleagues I know in our profession are not in it for the money. We are deeply passionate about our clients and our work. No amount of restrictions or laws will stop us from helping people who have been wronged. We are born with this passion… and politicians cannot legislate that passion away, no matter how hard they try.

I recently tried a civil case where the jury was out for 20 minutes before it returned a verdict against my client. It takes me longer than 20 minutes to flip through my Facebook feed! I was heartbroken for my client. I thought that the jury hated me. They hate what I stand for. I thought, for just a moment, that it would be so much easier to switch sides.

Then my client told me “thanks” for fighting for her; that we did our best; and that she glad we agreed not to settle. And my phone started to ring from fellow trial lawyers who told me to keep my chin up and told me that we all fight in the trenches to keep the other side honest.

I would much rather be on this side. We are told that there are always two sides to an issue, two sides to a debate. I don’t say this arrogantly, but I say it because of my experience: I would much rather be on this side and lose, than on the other side and win. I believe that there are plenty of good people on the other side, but for me and for my fellow trial lawyers, we fight for what is right and what is good.

We don’t fight to win popularity contests, for approval or for self-assurances. We fight for the inviolate principle that every person deserves his or her day in court. We have a proud responsibility to strap up our boots, face our fears and give that opportunity to our clients. What a great privilege that is. I am thankful for having a trial attorney in my corner to give my family that opportunity and daily I am grateful for the ability to give that same opportunity to my clients. I know you, my trial attorney family, feel that way too.

This is why we fight.

 

 

Mike Campbell is a member of the Missouri Association for Trial Attorneys and the American Association for Justice. He practices at The Law Office of Mike Campbell in Columbia, Mo.

 Reprinted with permission from The Missouri Trial Attorney, © 2017

 

Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Re-cap

Each November, the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ) hold their annual Governmental Affairs Conference – commonly known as the GAC.  This year, we sent our new Public Affairs Director, Todd Hauptman, to get the scoop on all things political, as we continue to develop our own strategy, here at TLABC.

This is what he had to say…

 

In his own words – Todd Hauptman 

 

IMG_5834

Have you ever imagined attending a conference full of the nerdiest individuals in your profession? The National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives (NATLE) Government Affairs conference was certainly that for me.  I recently attended their conference in Seattle that hosted public affairs professionals for Trial Lawyers Associations from across the United States.  I was the only Canadian in attendance so I felt as though I was representing an entire country.  While the conference had a number of detailed and engaging presentations, the most beneficial part of me was the networking.

The network was helpful to not only learn best practices from other TLAs in their advocacy efforts to their elected officials, but also to better understand working within an association environment like ours.  I spoke and spent time with colleagues from Ohio to Rhode Island to San Francisco and grew to appreciate each of their passion and determination.  Many of these folks have been passionately fighting for access to justice issues for decades and they continue to do so.  By having conversations with these folks, there is so much insight and experience to glean from. The most significant lesson from these political nerds was the importance of being determined in building solid, long term relationships with each and every one of the elected officials in our area.  While there will be wins and losses in the fight for our public policy agenda, it is essential to look at the long game. I had the opportunity to see some of them in action on the phone with decision makers and they get things done for their members.  These relationships took time to develop into a place where there can be mutual benefits.  This may be the most significant lesson but there are others.

These relationships were built through a deliberate strategy that involved targeted political donations, delivering volunteer resources for campaigns and helping legislators push their agenda forward.  While this is certainly in an American context, there are lessons for Canadians to learn.  Certainly our donation limits are a lot less than the United Stations, money still talks in politics.  It is important to donate to candidates in a strategic fashion.  Strategic donations matters because the candidates need to know where their resources for their campaign came from. The NATLE conference reinforced for me the importance of finding common ground on our agenda and the legislator’s priorities. The issues that NATLE and TLABC are working towards should have support from all parties no matter where they are on the political spectrum.  It was helpful to know that the strategies and approaches that TLABC is pursuing are on the right track.

The connections and relationships developed at NATLE will not only be once a year but in fact, I have a few meetings by phone or online with various colleagues to discuss mutual strategy.  These ongoing relationships will be fruitful not just in my role but for TLABC as we move forward with our public policy agenda.

Finally, it is critical to note that like all of our NATLE friends, we must continue to be seen and heard by our MLAs.  As a TLABC member over the holiday season, go to your MLA’s seasonal open house and have a friendly chat about the issues important to us, such as legal aid and wrongful death legislation.  Be a friendly face that your MLA begins to know and appreciate seeing.  While we may disagree on some issues, we can be allies on others.

Socks For Santa

134711750

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you who don’t know, each holiday season, TLABC’s Public Affairs Committee (PAC) collects new or gently used, clean socks for Santa to give to the First United Downtown Eastside shelter.

Over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to get to know the directors of the shelter and tour the facilities, and the work that they do for the less-fortunate of our province is truly outstanding and inspiring!

They provide 60 beds each night (40 for men and 20 for women), an address for guests to use for job searches, as well as social programming, meals and a foot care program.  Keeping your feet warm, dry and protected can be challenging in this rainy city, and they often run out of socks, especially during the busy holiday season.

Each year, our membership enjoys sending in packages of socks and goodies, along with donations towards the purchase of supplies – and we take great pleasure in our annual delivery day!

We are so proud of this small gesture we can make to help support BC citizens and we are always thrilled at the generosity of our legal community.  #TLABCCares

Please consider participating in one of the following ways:

1) Send or drop off your new or gently used socks to:

1111 – 1100 Melville St.
Vancouver, BC V6E 4A6

 2) Pledge to donate $5 – $100 (or more!) towards the purchase of socks & supplies for the shelter.

3) Bring your socks to an upcoming seminar/event, the AGM or the Holiday Bash on Friday, December 7th, 2018!

web-104337178

To make a pledge, or for more info please contact megan@tlabc.org or call the TLABC office:

604-682-5343 / (toll-free: 1 888-558-5222)

Let’s keep our less-fortunate citizens warm this holiday season!!