Not a goodbye… but a thank you.

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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.

 

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 

 

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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.

Future Leaders – Feature Member, Lindsay Frame

Meet Lindsay Frame! 

Lindsay is one of our law student members who has been stepping up in helping to engage her peers at UBC, particularly with raising awareness about the many issues that the law profession is currently facing.  Recently, she helped to facilitate a presentation to her classmates by one of our mentor-lawyers, the now-retired, Mr. Larry Kancs, and we can see many more opportunities for her to find her place as a future leader of TLABC.  Lindsay is the daughter of long-time TLABC Governor & Past-president, Steve Frame, and we look forward to seeing how she is able to continue to grow within our association.

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Q & A…

What were some of the main reasons that you have chosen to pursue a legal career?

Both of my parents are practicing lawyers, but in a kind of ironic twist, the person who convinced me to apply for law school was actually my molecular genetics professor, Don Moerman. I was in the process of completing my Bachelor’s degree at UBC in Integrated Sciences, and my chosen integration was Neuroscience & Immunogenetics. I was very engaged with my courses at the time, but my distaste for lab work made me acutely aware that a career in research was probably not in my future. Professor Moerman was the first person who ever explained to me how a science background could be valuable in law. It was a perspective that I had never really considered – so when he set me up to have coffee with a former student of his who had recently started practicing IP law, I think that’s when I first started to see a place for myself within the field. My interest was initially focused towards genetic patent work, but I have since expanded my horizons and am interested in anything that intersects at all with science or medicine – especially areas like intellectual property, personal injury, criminal and medical malpractice law.

Were there mentors, leaders, or others who have inspired you?

My parents have been my biggest mentors. My dad is a personal injury lawyer, and my mom is a prosecutor, and although their practice areas are quite different, what they have in common is that they are both very enthusiastic about their work. Growing up, a lot of my friends’ parents would come home from work exhausted, but most of the time, mine would come home excited to tell us about their day – so that has always pushed me to find work that I genuinely love doing. Having been to court a handful of times, I am certainly starting to understand their excitement, which I think is a good sign. My parents also share the philosophy that lawyers have a duty to do work that helps people in the community, and that philosophy has always pushed me to get involved with organizations like the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and the Special Olympics, which have been some of my fondest memories.

Growing up, I was also a competitive athlete, so naturally, my coaches were big inspirations. They pushed me quite hard, with a very “tough-love” attitude. During training, as one of a few girls on a mostly-male team, I was generally held to the same standards as all of my male peers – I was expected to run as fast, jump as high, and do as many push-ups. That was sometimes hard because they were big guys, and I was weaker than a lot of them. But nobody ever “went easy on me” because I was a girl, so I had to work harder. I think that experience made me driven, and it made me expect a lot of myself. It really helped to prepare me for this moment, as a young woman entering a somewhat male-dominated field.

How do you handle the pressure that can often accompany the heavy course load of being a law student?

I have always found the ocean to be very calming, so one of my favourite ways to manage stress is to go for a jog on the seawall on a sunny day. I am a fair-weather runner, though, so throughout the winter I’ll often substitute spin and kickboxing classes. I generally find exercise, as well as cooking, to be very therapeutic.

Additionally, the nice thing about law school is that on any given “bad day” another law student is likely within arm’s reach that has also had a bad day for the same or similar reasons – so, I have found a lot of support in my peers this year, as well as from the many lawyers I have spoken to who can relate with their own 1L experiences.

What do you enjoy most about law school?

One of my favourite experiences has been my involvement in the LSLAP. It has given me a lot of exposure to different areas of law, and I have been lucky enough to pick up a few trials which I will be working on over the summer! I have always wanted to be a litigator, so I feel lucky to have hands-on experience like this so early on in my career. Every lawyer I have dealt with so far has been incredibly supportive, and very forgiving of the inevitable embarrassing moments which happen when I am not entirely sure what I am doing. I had always imagined the courtroom to be an incredibly adversarial environment, but I quickly learned that the opposite seems to be true, at least for law students.

What do you find most challenging
about law school?

Time management was one of the things that I have found to be the hardest about law school. The course load is much heavier and more reading-intensive than what I had become used to in undergrad. There is also a constant flow of networking events, and a number of exciting opportunities (such as LSLAP, or other pro bono initiatives) to do in one’s “spare” time. Juggling my academic, extracurricular and personal commitments was sometimes challenging, and at times I certainly felt that I had over-extended myself. At the same time, though, I know it is a rite of passage and that it builds useful skills for the practice of law.

What advice would you give to those thinking about pursuing law school?

Some of the best advice I got at the beginning of law school was not to narrow my focus to one area of law right away. It seems like the first question that anyone asks a law student is “what kind of law do you want to practice?” My answer to that question is ever-changing because I have gained exposure to more practice areas than I would have imagined existed when I first started 1L. I will admit that in the summer before law school started, I complained incessantly about one particular class being a required course… and that class was actually my favourite this year! So, I would tell people who are thinking of pursuing a career in law to do so with an open mind.

If you weren’t studying to become a lawyer, what career path would you pursue?

Occupational therapy. Prior to coming to law school, I spent a number of years working as an “aide” for people with disabilities, and I found the work to be very enjoyable and very rewarding. I contemplated applying for occupational therapy school at one point, as I hoped to be able to directly support victims of traumatic brain injuries, and help them regain control of their lives. Ideally, in my future career as a lawyer, I hope to be able to do this same thing through advocacy, as well as by being involved with volunteer organizations like the Special Olympics.

Why is being a member of TLABC important
to you?

My dad was very involved with TLABC throughout most of my childhood, so while I was growing up, I learned a lot about the types of advocacy that TLABC engages in. I have always found those endeavours to be things that I felt passionately about, as well. I think that TLABC’s access to justice initiatives are particularly important, because they give a voice to those who might not otherwise be able or willing to self-advocate. What I think is most important about TLABC is that their initiatives are powerful: they bring together some of the best and brightest minds to solve problems, together. I think it is so much more effective than branching out alone, and I am happy to have an opportunity to be a part of it.

Additionally, I think that TLABC provides amazing opportunities to meet litigators and learn about their practice areas. To a law student,
the experience is invaluable, because we get a good amount of exposure to corporate firms, but not as much to the types of small firm litigation that a lot of TLABC members practice.

If you could ask a senior lawyer one question, what would it be?

If I had the opportunity to pick senior lawyers’ brains, I would likely ask them what advice they would give to someone who is brand-new to litigation?, or what mistakes they made on their first trials?

Editorial Note:   Would you like to help Lindsay answer her question?
Email julia@tlabc.org

@tla_bc

Women Lawyers Retreat ’18

WOMEN LAWYERS RETREAT – 19-21 OCTOBER 2018 at Nita Lake Lodge
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We are currently accepting applications for bursaries to our annual Women Lawyers Retreat, which will take place over the weekend of 19-21 October 2018 at Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler. We are encouraging all women who think they might be eligible to apply! (Please note: applications will be kept confidential.)
Bursary recipients must be one or more of the following:
·        Newly called to the profession
·        A great part of your practice includes Pro-Bono work
·        Experiencing financial hardship
·        Preference will be given to TLABC members
Bursary includes:
·        Accommodation in a triple occupancy room for Friday & Saturday
·        6 hours of CPD
·        All social events and meals over the weekend
·        $150 spa gift card for the Nita Lake Spa (can be used that weekend or at another date)
Write a brief description of why you think you are eligible to receive a bursary, and email it to erin@tlabc.org by Monday July 9th.

Member Perspective – The Women Lawyers Retreat – #TLABC

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This year marked the 12th Annual TLABC Women Lawyers Retreat and we couldn’t be more pleased with how this inspiring event has developed over the past decade!

Every year, our planning committee works tirelessly to organize an amazing weekend of learning, collaboration and connection for women in law across the province, and the feedback we receive from the registrants never fails to warm our hearts.  The event continues to sell out in mere minutes and is clearly one of the hottest tickets of our seminar season.

(It even won the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) CLE of the Year and the Association of Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) award for Outstanding Achievement.)

We asked Candace Cho, who is a long time attendee, as well as a member of the Planning Committee, for her perspective on the event… and this is what she had to say:

Member Perspective; By Candace Cho, (Onyx Law Group)

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It never ceases to amaze and comfort me on the simple concept of what a sisterhood women lawyers can be.  The proof is the annual TLABC Women Lawyers Retreat, which just happened on October 20-22, 2017 at Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler.  This was the third time we held the retreat at Nita Lake, and it was just as fun and relaxing as ever.  I still remember the first time I attended the conference as a newly called lawyer.  I was amazed at how welcome I was, how all the registrants were eager to socialize and share stories, mentor each other and have fun.  The concept is the same every year, but the experience has transitioned as I have aged.  I find myself in the privileged position of providing more advice and mentorship to the newer called registrants, but the sense of sisterhood and camaraderie is as strong as ever.

The learning components are also awesome – this year did not disappoint, with Supreme Court of Canada Justice Suzanne Cote headlining our all-star cast of speakers who all presented on how women can forge their way to leadership, changing the law and fulfilling their vocations as lawyers.

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The Saturday night dance party and photo booth are always a hoot, and new friends are made, while much needed time is spent catching up with old ones – often friends that we first met at the same conference years ago.

The registrants’ backgrounds, ages, and years of call are completely varied, from brand new calls to senior members of the bar.  There are often QCs, retired justices, sitting Justices, and Benchers running amuck in their spa robes.  Lawyers come from different ethnic, cultural, and other backgrounds, and diverse practice areas.  The common, unifying connection is simply that we are all, or have been, women lawyers in the past or present.

The culture is a casual and free-flowing one.  It is completely unpretentious, and at times, can be wonderfully raw and personal.  It is a safe place where women can share their triumphs and struggles, and offer encouragement and support for one another.  Wisdom is generously doled out, advice given from varying perspectives, and all opinions valued and heard.  Every year has a different theme, but in general, the conference is meant to empower, inspire and uplift women lawyers in one efficient weekend away.

You forget about your worldly concerns from time to time to get into a robe, chat with someone over a glass of wine, or have enough time to take a bubble bath or get a massage.  There is opportunity for self-reflection, socialization in small and large groups, and general frivolity.

As part of the planning committee, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to put together this truly meaningful event every year.  It is a rare conference which intersects continuing professional development, collegiality, friendship and mentorship; and acts as a respite from the everyday busyness of a woman lawyer’s life.  I look forward to continue participating in the conference for the rest of my legal career.

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Follow the TLABC Women’s Community – on Facebook or with the hashtag #TLABC_women on Twitter & Instagram!

@tla_bc

For more information on our legal seminars & events, please visit www.tlabc.org

Politics & Passion

[Excerpt from the Fall Issue of the TLABC Verdict] – out now! 

There’s a feeling in the air when summer fades and fall begins… that back-to-school ‘something’ that is crisp and busy and smells like falling leaves and hot apple pie.  Warm afternoons turn into cool, dark evenings and calendars fill up again with meetings, fundraising and campaign strategy.

In short, Fall hits – and it’s go-time.

Not that summer was all that quiet around here- we had multiple retreats and conferences going on for the TLABC Staff, the Board & Executive, and some of our campaign committees, (albeit with a few vacation days tacked on.)  We had staff in Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington, Squamish, the Yukon and Osoyoos, and we’ve been examining our goals and planning for the year ahead, but the work has been strategic and internal and now it’s time for action.

I was fortunate to attend a conference in LA this past July and was asked to present to the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) on behalf of TLABC.  The meetings were in conjunction with the American Association of Justice (AAJ) and were also book-ended by the GOP and Democratic National Conventions.  It was definitely a busy week in California, and there was an undeniable buzz that distinctly reminded me of my very first AAJ/NATLE trip – pre-US election, 4 years ago.  It was the same conference, but in Chicago – just before Obama’s second term. Now, let’s not get it twisted – this particular buzz was not exactly the same.  4 years ago, it felt exciting and hopeful and I was fascinated by the entire business… whereas this time, it simply seemed to stem from fear.

Fear is a powerful thing.  It’s palpable.  You could feel it in the media, as stories broke about even more racism, more crimes of hate and gender, and in the ongoing antics of that man-who-shall-not-be-named.  You could feel it in the public perception as they carefully went about their days, avoiding the conversation as often as possible, completely unsure of what is to come.  Everyone seemed to be reacting to a series of sometimes silent, but very tangible threats to their society, often with humour, but always in fear.

Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my time at TLABC, is that fear does not fuel change – only passion does.

At TLABC, through our PAC fund, we are constantly working against threats to our justice system, and our members remain diligent in monitoring what may be coming down the pipe.  We want to make change – to protect our citizens – to strive towards better access to justice.  These are no small things.  But success lies in our passion and subsequently, our action.

I’ve heard time after time, that TLABC was founded by a “small group of renegades” – lawyers who truly believed in justice and in the access of it.  These lawyers did not act out of fear, but of concern for their clients and a passion for their practice.  As time goes on and more battles arise to be fought, it is imperative that we remember to do the same.

There are other groups and organizations who are better suited to predictable action and reaction – TLABC is not one of them.  The work continues, not out of fear of the unknown, or of systematic dissolution, but because it is the right thing to do.

As an association, we will rise to the challenges ahead and show time and again our commitment to justice.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama

If you want to show your own “Passion And Commitment”then consider making a donation the TLABC PAC fund so that we can take action when the threats to our justice system arise.  Let’s not just sit back, in fear…

Let’s give them something to talk about.

Make a commitment to justice.

[PLEASE NOTE: This was originally published pre- US election]

To donate to the TLABC PAC Fun, please contact megan@tlabc.org

LawyersHelpingPeople

Help the BC Courthouse Library!

Old books

CLBC is taking a deep look at how they serve value to their membership and lawyers across the province. This is your chance to have a say! This exercise involves several interviews. To get good representation (year of call, region, etc.), they will be doing a quick (4-5 minutes) intake survey and then short-listing folks for a longer 1-hour Skype, phone or in-person interview. Thank you for your interest!

Please email Audrey Jun at ajun@courthouselibrary.ca  before August 9th, 2016 (next Tuesday!)