(by longtime member and PAC donor, Ian Sisett)
Lost to us now , Nola Fowlds, a wonderful person and friend.
This lady deserves special recognition as the stabilizing organizational talent that guided a number of mad young trial lawyers during the first association building foundation years. Through 1979 to 1985, Nola worked diligently in supporting founding president Robert Mackay, followed by Arthur Vertlieb and then Ian Sisett, and each of the founding directors.. She was instrumental in matters of detail. She helped with formal meetings, constitutional wrangles, and new international seminars on trial practice. She was the calm face in the structuring of what was then regarded as a rather revolutionary group.
After a conservative beginning of career as secretary to the President of UBC, Nola sought a more adventurous path of independence with executive involvement in a new approach to trial practice and education.
She provided unwavering support for a pioneer “legal rogues”. She gave up the security of a more established position for a new adventure. Without precedent or a clear roadmap, much was done by trial and error. The CBA was often particularly critical of any need for a new approach to sharing of advocacy skills. However, the new TLA vision was clearly shared by the courageous few; Instead of leaving the development of advocacy skills to the select few in larger firms who passed down their coveted knowledge to understudy disciples, on the British model, the TLA was formed on the principle that advocacy skills and knowledge should be shared and nurtured. Each counsel, the public, and the Courts would benefit by raising the level and availability of skilled advocates. The new mantra was “each one help one”. Our American colleagues were the prominent leaders in setting new standards for public access and remedy in matters of civil law. They proved to be the best of professional friends. Under the banner of ATLA, (Association of Trial Lawyers of America), our American friends provided help at every turn. In fact, ATLA was the true and unselfish guiding model for our association. Before TLABC the focus based on the British model was very much a lock step emphasis upon precedent rather than modernization and public access. The adopted British damage model was generally an adherence to “stiff upper lip”, with token recognition of claims involving ” loss of enjoyment” and ” emotional loss”. Many of the elder barristers lamented the down grading of standards with the discontinuance of the wearing of wigs in court.
Those unfamiliar with the stresses of the 1970’s and 1980’s may not appreciate the world of sacrifice endured by Nola Fowlds as she dared to take up a career in support a renegade association of non conforming trial advocates. Imagine the changes in practice and law that came with the new focus and demands for recognition and protection of the value of individual rights, enjoyment, and life-style. Imagine the backlash from the the more conservative members of Bench and Bar. This was a fledgling organization of radicals unpatriotic to precedent. Imagine the risk to pension and reputation faced by Nola in daring to associate with the “non establishment”. Alas that was then and this is now. How times have changed.
Yes, speaking on behalf of the founding members of this Association, Nola was courageous and loyal, and through it all she was a warm heart with a kind word for all she met. She set a tone and standard for those who follow after in the Executive Secretariate. We will not forget her smile; she was a true friend.
In true Loving Memory and Celebration of Nola.
– Ian R. Sisett
[For official obituary in the Vancouver Province, click here]