Volunteer Spotlight – Michael Kraus QC

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Jan 252017

Volunteers are integral to our success here at LESA. That’s why we like to take the time to thank our LESA volunteers for dedicating their time, talent, and energy in the mutual pursuit of continuing legal excellence.

There are many ways we thank our volunteers, from appreciation programs – such as this year’s program Cultural Competence, Diversity, and Inclusion – to brochures, and feature articles on our blog. While we would love to feature every one of our volunteers, this time we’ve chosen to give Michael Kraus QC the spotlight.

Michael has been involved with LESA for more than 15 years, during which he has been a program panelist many times and a CPLED instructor for various modules.

We recently interviewed Michael to learn a bit more about him, his practice, and why he is inspired to volunteer at LESA.

Happy reading!

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Kraus QCQ: Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

A: I have been a lawyer since 1990. During the first 10 years or so of my career, I practiced in just about every area of the law that you can imagine. Over the last 15 years or so, I have become so busy practicing family law, that family law is all I do at the present time. It helps that I am at an excellent firm, Emery Jamieson LLP, so clients who need other types of work done can be serviced by other lawyers at my firm.

Q: How did you become interested in Law?

A: I became interested in the law when I was a student. During my undergraduate studies, I had to make an important decision. I was also interested in academics. I had to decide whether to pursue an academic career or legal career. I decided to go to law school and to pursue a career as a lawyer in private practice. I have had no regrets about that decision.

Q: How did you get into your practice area?

A: There was a stigma about family law in law school and the stigma still exists today to some extent among lawyers. When I was a young lawyer, I was given the opportunity to practice family law because the lawyers that I worked with often did not want files in that area. To their surprise – and perhaps even to my surprise – I very much enjoyed the challenges of practicing in the family law area. I enjoy the type of work that I do and the people that I deal with including clients, experts, and other lawyers. I have nothing but good things to say about the practice of family law, well almost nothing.

Q: Can you tell me about your involvement as a volunteer at LESA?

A: I have been a volunteer with LESA for over 15 years. I have been fortunate to participate in many different capacities, including being a program panelist, competency evaluator, and instructor. When CPLED was known as the Bar Admission Course, I was a Family Law instructor. Since the Bar Admission Course became CPLED, I have instructed Oral Advocacy, Interviewing and Advising, as well as Professional Responsibility.

Q: How do you enjoy your time outside of the office?

A: The practice of family law can be very demanding, as with other practice areas. Balance and outside interests are important. I volunteer with other professional and community organizations. I like to ski, mountain bike, travel, and golf. I am also considering making a comeback to resume my men’s league hockey career. Most importantly, I like to spend time with my family. My wife, Lori, and I have been married for over 20 years, and we have three wonderful children.

Q: Do you have any advice to give a newly called lawyer?

A: I would encourage newly called lawyers to work, if possible, in diverse practice areas. The experience of being exposed to and working hard in many areas of the law will make them better lawyers in the future. Even if some of the time they spend getting up-to-speed is not billable, the trade off is worth it. They will learn what areas of the law they like and those they do not like. They can then choose what type of a career to pursue.

Q: What would you tell someone who may be considering volunteering at LESA?

A: If you have an opportunity to volunteer with LESA, I would encourage you to do so. There are many benefits of volunteering with LESA. There is a learning component, which is very important. There is the satisfaction of being recognized and knowing that others may have benefited. There is also a social element. You will get the opportunity to interact with LESA staff, with students, and with other practitioners. All of these benefits are very rewarding.

Thank you to each and every one of our LESA volunteers. Your continued service to the profession has built the foundation of LESA’s reputation for excellence in legal education.

We’re proud to have you as our partners in continuing legal excellence!


Practice Profile: Dr. Lund, Assistant Professor – U of A

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Sep 092016

As an organization, LESA depends greatly on the support of its volunteers. Recently, we spoke with Dr. Anna Lund, Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law , about her career, her research in insolvency law, and her volunteer work with LESA.

Dr. Anna Lund, Assistant Professor - University of AlbertaDr. Lund’s interest in law began when she was awarded a Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Researcher Award during her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Alberta to study the experiences of children in war zones. She came to see law as, “a very practical solution to significant social problems.” She became interested in insolvency law while pursuing her law degree at the University of Alberta. After graduation and a clerkship at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, she worked in private practice during the Global Financial Crisis which meant there were significant opportunities for her to pursue her interest in insolvency law. Dr. Lund then went on to complete her Master of Laws at the University of California, Berkeley and her PhD at the University of British Columbia.

During her undergraduate degree, Dr. Lund was influenced by professors who created dynamic, academically stimulating learning environments. Now, as a professor herself, the most rewarding part for Dr. Lund is engaging with students.

Law is such a flexible tool, seeing the sorts of ways people can use it is exciting.”

She enjoys when students ask questions or come up with issues that help her to think more deeply about a subject area.  Dr. Lund currently holds a research fellowship, funded by the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, to study disordered gambling and bankruptcy. This research examines the experiences of individuals, who make use of insolvency proceedings to address gambling-related debt, and asks what changes could be made to better support them.

Apart from her research and teaching, Dr. Lund finds many opportunities to give back through pro bono work and volunteering. Dr. Lund enjoys practicing pro bono law with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) and Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) in part because, “it’s nice when I’m able to take these skills I’ve learned and help people who are in difficult situations.”

Dr. Lund first became involved with LESA when she and Pat Paradis co-chaired “The Constitution in the Insolvency Tool Box” seminar this past spring. She is also currently working on LESA’s Collections Fundamentals publication. One of the aspects she really enjoyed about taking part in the LESA seminar was that, “it was a really neat opportunity to bring practitioners and academics together to talk about some underexplored aspects of insolvency law.”

It is through the support of volunteers like Dr. Lund that LESA is able to provide a diverse array of programs to serve the educational and professional development needs of Alberta’s legal community.

Thank you for your continued dedication.

National Volunteer Week: James T. Swanson

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Apr 112016

James T. Swanson - National Volunteer Week SpotlightWe like to periodically take time out to thank our volunteers by giving them the spotlight, and since it is National Volunteer Week (NVW), we can’t think of a better time to say thank you!

Our hundreds of volunteers are what keep LESA going, and we’re pleased to take the opportunity of National Volunteer Week to send our gratitude to each and every one of our volunteers. Thank you!

Though we would love to feature you all in today’s blog, this time around we’re sending a special shout out to James T. Swanson who has assisted LESA numerous times with organizing, chairing, and presenting at our seminars.

Here’s what James had to say in a recent interview. Happy reading!

How did you first become interested in law?

The first experience that interested me was when I was about 19 or 20. I had a part time job in a news warehouse. … I organized a union and became the shop steward, so I was the one involved in negotiating the collective agreement. That was my first exposure to lawyers, watching them work, and that sort of planted the seed. … It took until I was about 28 to really get serious about it, so I wrote the LSAT, I already had the degree, I applied, got in, and off I went!”

Can you tell me a little bit about your practice?

My practice focuses on technology of all types – not just information technology but general technological issues as they relate to the legal system – and on intellectual property, like copyrights, trademarks, patents and trades secrets, confidential information, design – those kinds of things. … I work both the solicitor side and … I also litigate. … I’ve been on some pretty complicated cases over the years.”

What would you say you like best about your job?

The fact that it’s always interesting because, as you know, technology is advancing increasingly more rapidly – it’s an exponential increase. … The way I looked at it was, if you take an Olympic swimming pool, which is 50m long, and you say it’s 2m deep, [and think] what if you add one drop per second – ignore the fact that it’s going to evaporate – how long would it take to fill the pool? And the answer is 567 years. But if you double the drops … a drop in the first second, 2 in the second, 4 the third, 8, then 16, 32, etc. the pool is half full in 23 seconds. … At 40 seconds you’re at the yearly supply of water for all of Toronto. You can’t get to 2 minutes because there is not enough water on earth to do it. That’s the power of doubling. That’s what’s happening [in terms of technology]. … Yogi Berra said it best, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for LESA?

I really enjoy the people. I really enjoy working with you guys; I enjoy the lawyers I meet. Usually in the sessions I’ve been at, the audience is really engaged. … People come up to chat during the coffee break; … you meet some really good people. Also, I like the feeling of getting up and explaining something that somebody didn’t know before.”

What else motivates you to volunteer?

It’s kind of pay it forward, pay it back. … I’m getting older, and eventually I would like to retire. I want to make sure people know what’s going on in my area, and I think there is a lot of risk that can be better managed by other lawyers. … They should understand that.”

What advice would you give to some of your colleagues who may be considering volunteering?

I’d just say do it! It’s a really worthwhile experience; … it’s win-win for everybody. … You know what, I don’t think I’ve ever given a seminar to an audience where I didn’t learn something – either by what I had to do to prepare for it … or by what somebody in the audience said to me. I always learn something. Everybody out there has a story or a fact that they know that will improve your life when you hear it.”

Deni Cashin – Feature Volunteer

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Jan 262016

Deni Cashin

The latest LESA brochures are hot off the press! If you haven’t already received them in the mail, they should be hitting your desk soon. Twice a year we take an opportunity to let everyone know who our awesome volunteers are: that’s why we just published our July – December 2015 Volunteer Appreciation brochure.

This brochure is just a small way of saying thanks for all you do. LESA couldn’t function without all of the dedicated volunteers who give of their time and talent, so here’s a huge shout out and thank you to each of you!

In each volunteer appreciation brochure, we also highlight a feature volunteer who offered LESA exceptional support over the past 6 months. Since we work with hundreds of volunteers, picking just one person to highlight is a challenge, but in this brochure we’re featuring Deni Cashin.

Deni has been a loyal LESA supporter for many years. Most recently, she chaired our Domestic Contracts program and taught in the face-to-face Interviewing and Advising CPLED module.

You’ll find our interview with Deni on the front page of the brochure, where you can read about what drew her to law, why she volunteers, and more. We had such a great interview that we couldn’t fit everything into the brochure. So you’ll find even more in today’s blog.

Happy reading, and thanks again to Deni Cashin and all of our incredible volunteers!

Tell me about your practice.

I practice family law … at Daunais McKay Harms + Jones. … I have been practicing with some of the people in our office for fourteen years. My pervious firm merged with part of this firm in 2010, so I’ve been very lucky that way – to practice with people I know well and think of very highly. I am a certified collaborative lawyer. Collaborative law is a very defined process, whereby clients sign a contract saying they will negotiation based on interests with their lawyers, but if negotiations break down and either client needs to go to court then both clients must get new lawyers. That is part of my practice. I also spend quite a bit of time on family law files that aren’t collaborative – in the big “C” sense that I just described. So I go to court as needed, or I go to mediation, or I go to arbitration. Like many family lawyers, ADR is something that we try to do as much as possible – that’s Alternative Dispute Resolution. But when that isn’t possible or when it breakdown, we will go to court. … I never find it boring, that’s for sure. But I’m glad that I don’t need to dabble in any area other than family law, because that’s really my area of interest and knowledge.”

What do you like best about your job? Or is it hard to narrow that down?

Well, they say in family law that when you finally conclude a matter the best you can hope for is for the parties to be equally unhappy. But when you are able to resolve difficult issues for a client and they are satisfied with the outcome, that’s hugely rewarding. … If parties are able to come to an agreement in mediation, that is ideal because a third party such as a judge or arbitrator hasn’t forced the terms of the agreement on them – they’ve been able to mediate it themselves – and that often creates better enforcement and implementation after the fact, because it was the parties choice. Sometimes the parties are in a process of mediation-arbitration. There are maybe one or two items that they haven’t been able to get agreement on, and the arbitrator can make that decision, having tried to help the parties throughout the mediation. That can be equally effective. And sometimes there are some files that just are not amenable to mediation-arbitration. For example, if one of the parties has a mental illness or an unwillingness to be reasonable, then it may be necessary to go to court. If you prepare your case well and have obtained in court what your client has requested, then that too can be rewarding. So it just all depends on the particular file; each one is so different.”

What books do you currently have on the go?

One of my favorites is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’s thick, but it’s fantastic. Right now I’m in the middle of a book by Anita Diamant – The Boston Girl. It’s a good read. I’ve belonged to a book club in Calgary for 20 years. … Over those 20 years the members have all become really good friends.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Helen Ward

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Dec 022015

Helen WardWith the craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, we were encouraged yesterday to participate in the movement of Giving Tuesday – a day dedicated to giving back worldwide and kicking off a season of giving.

Here at LESA we rely on our incredible volunteers all year round, but we’re happy to take the opportunity of this week’s Giving Tuesday to send a special shout out to everyone who gives so much back to LESA and the whole legal profession here in Alberta. Thank you!

With the hundreds of volunteers who work with LESA each year, we have a lot to be thankful for. While we can’t name you all individually in our blog today, we do want to send a special shout out to one of our standout volunteers – Helen Ward.

Helen has been lending her expertise to LESA since the 1990s, and she’s volunteered on 3 different fronts: helping prepare our practice manuals, speaking at our seminars, and helping in our CPLED face-to-face modules.

Her most recent contributions include quite the list of LESA engagements:

As Helen says, “you give a lot and you gain a lot” by being a volunteer. In that spirit of reciprocity, because we’re so grateful that Helen shares her time and talent with us, we wanted to return the favor by sharing a little about Helen with you.

We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little more about one of your colleagues!

Tell me about your law practice.

My practice focuses almost entirely on either wills & estates or mental capacity issues in adults. I’m a bit of a hybrid because I do both the drafting or the solicitor side and I also do the litigation side: so long as it’s wills & estates or mental capacity related, it all falls into my practice area. I quite enjoy having the mix … on the one side the planning, drafting, solicitor-type work and then also a good, healthy dose of the more contentious, litigation-type work.”

What interested you in law in the first place?

I did some public speaking and debating when I was in high school, and that’s probably when I first thought about it. Then I did an Arts degree. [I wasn’t] planning to go into law when I entered into Arts, but as it progressed I started to think about it. When I got into law school, I think I found a lot of likeminded people there, but I’m not one of those people who always wanted to be a lawyer since the age of 5.”

How you get into your practice area?

I never thought I’d practice in this area; I thought it was probably a fairly dry, boring area to practice in. When I was articling, I ended up working quite a lot with Phil Renaud QC – whose name is familiar with LESA, he does a lot of stuff for you – and he needed someone to help him with some estate work and some estate litigation work. I worked with him on a rather unusual file … when I was articling, and it just started to morph from there. I started to do that type of work; I enjoyed the clients; I enjoyed the practice. I was very lucky, because Phil mentored me a lot. The practice just slowly started to grow over the years.”

Tell me about your involvement with LESA.

I’ve always had a lot of respect for people who give presentations for LESA, so I was probably quite scared and honoured when I was first asked to give a paper. I really enjoy it. … You probably hear this all the time from people, but I’ll say it anyways: I always learn from volunteering with LESA; I always love connecting with the other lawyers who volunteer – and I’m always impressed by how much they do and the energy they have; I find it improves me as a lawyer because I learn. I also think that, as part of our profession, we do need to share our knowledge. Our firm has always promoted legal education; I articled here and have been at Duncan Craig all the way through. As well, for me in my particular area, it’s been a way for me to learn and probably increase my profile.”

What advice would you give to a newly called lawyer?

You never stop learning in this profession. It often takes, I think, about five years, until you feel comfortable or competent, so don’t despair that for the first year everything feels new. Ask for help, especially [if you] are solo practitioners or in small firms. I find that the bar is very helpful, it’s very collegial. I get cold calls often from lawyers simply because they have heard me speak somewhere. Generally we respond well to that and can find a few minutes to help.”

When you’re not volunteering for us or busy in the office, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I’m married to my wonderful husband Greg; we have two daughters who are 15 and 18 – so they keep me busy and on my toes. I love to run, so that’s something I love to do for sport. I’ve been, for many years, a community soccer coach and volunteer in the community. Spending time with my family is the other priority, and I have a great time doing that.”

Cathy Farnell – Another LESA Superstar!

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May 112015

Cathy CroppedDid you know that LESA filled approximately 600 volunteer placements this year? That means we rely on a lot of volunteers!

We have so many incredible supporters who give their time, talent, and energy to help us fulfill our mission to serve the spectrum of educational and professional development needs of Alberta’s lawyers, articling students, and their staff. We’re truly grateful for the commitment of all our volunteers. Without you, we couldn’t serve the profession as effectively!

Since we benefit so much from our volunteers, we like to publicaly thank them for all their support, and today we’re pleased to put the spotlight on Cathy Farnell!

Cathy has volunteered for LESA over the past several years. Most recently, she was instrumental in preparing the Real Estate Practice Manual update. LESA’s Karen McDougall was especially grateful for Cathy’s help rallying the Witten troops when we needed additional help with the manual.

Cathy is also speaking at the Commercial Real Estate seminar in Edmonton tomorrow.

For those of you who are attending, here’s a sneak preview of what Cathy is most excited for about the seminar:

Well I’m actually most looking forward to some of the other talks. … [Alexander MacWilliam is] talking about environmental [issues], … [which relates to] a particular lease agreement that I’m working on right now. … To me, having a more advanced seminar to talk about more advanced topics interests me a lot as a participant. Even if I wasn’t speaking, I think I would have attended this seminar, because … it’s nice to have some that are more advanced and … because I really do like the continuing learning aspect of the programs that LESA puts on. … And then Jim Brown, of course, is talking from the industry perspective. … So that’s a nice background and puts things in a very good perspective for people attending the conference. … Your clients are probably asking you those same questions or they’re probably going through those same processes that Jim is going to talk about, so [understanding] a little bit more of the business side can be really helpful as you get more senior in your practice area.”

Despite her busy schedule with her practice and volunteer commitments, Cathy took some time last week to talk to us about why she likes volunteering with LESA.

But first, before we get into that, we’ll fill you in on what peaked Cathy’s interest in the practice of commercial real estate.

It has to do with the opportunities I had when I started at the firm. Right away, I was involved in really interesting and complicated files and was given a fair amount of responsibility, properly supervised, of course. But enough to see the bigger picture … to see that it is complex. I do like that most of the time it’s quite non-adversarial. People have kind of the same end goal in mind. Although you’re on other sides and you’re negotiating things, most of the time people want to get the deal done, and that creates a nice work environment. I think it is challenging, and I think no two deals are ever the same, so you’re always having to modify and think about different things and make sure the agreement covers it properly for your client in that circumstance.”

And what does Cathy like best about her job?

Honestly, I would have to say the people. … You spend so much time at work that it’s important to like and respect your co-workers, and I really do. I think that Witten has a very supportive environment, [with] a lot of people to assist or help or bounce ideas off of, and I like that. When you pair that with a practice area that you really like and clients that you really like, that’s a good way to spend your day.”

Now that you know a bit more about Cathy’s practice, here’s some insight on what motivates her to volunteer.

I value going to those events to learn, and I especially did as a young person, and I think I’m finally starting to get to a point where I can give back a little bit. … It’s helpful to me too, because just putting it together, … just sitting down and having to go through and think of things, … [is] almost like creating a checklist, which is good to do again, because you take for granted the basics sometimes, and it’s good to review them. … When I have an opportunity to do that and give back, then I think I should.”

With her speaking engagement at Commercial Real Estate tomorrow, Cathy’s first piece of advice to other lawyers thinking about volunteering is “Run, run away!” But joking aside, Cathy had some valuable advice to share about making the commitment to volunteer.

It’s important to give yourself internal timelines, so that you keep on top of it, because if you’re going to volunteer you want to make sure that you’re doing a good job. Sometimes it’s like when you’re giving students work and they have billable work and non-billable work: the non-billable work always seems … easier to push off. So you really have to give yourself some diary dates and some follow up to make sure that you’re doing the best job that you can do. And choose something that you’re comfortable with, because it will be easier to do and it’s a good start. … I think if people do get involved in something that they’re comfortable with and interested in, they will really enjoy it and might surprise themselves with what they get back out of it.”

Thanks Cathy for all your hard work and you valuable advice!

To all of our volunteers, you are fabulous! Although we didn’t mention you here today, we’re huge fans of yours. We always struggle when picking a volunteer to highlight, since so many of you deserve to be in the spotlight for your dedication and hard work!

Thank You Volunteers!

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Apr 132015

Thank You Volunteers

Today is the start of National Volunteer Week, and we are so grateful for our incredible LESA volunteers!
To everyone who has helped make CPLED, our seminars, and our educational resources a great success – this shout out is to you!

You are a valued LESA contributor and all your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. We make a point of saying thanks all throughout the year, but this week we’re taking the opportunity to express our gratitude in a very tangible way.

If you volunteered for us this past year, you should have received a ticket inviting you to attend this week’s seminar – Making Business Development a Natural Part of Your Everyday Life – absolutely free.

We’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow (in Edmonton) or Wednesday (in Calgary), and we hope you’ll enjoy hearing from Steve Hughes, as he discusses how you can grow your business in an intentional way. He has so many good tips to offer, and we’re pleased to give you this practical gift in return for everything you’ve done for us this year.

This program is also open to paying registrants, and there are still a few seats left. If you want to join us, we’d love to have you. You can register online now for Edmonton or Calgary.

Tina Huizinga – Feature Volunteer

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Jan 302015

Thank You Volunteers
Twice a year LESA honours all of our volunteers by publishing a brochure identifying each valued, indispensable, incredible person who partnered with LESA to make our programs and resources a great success.

While this is just a small token of our appreciation of all that you do, we want to recognize your gift of time and talent by telling everyone that you’re an amazing volunteer.

If you haven’t already seen LESA’s latest Volunteer Appreciation brochure, it should be hitting your desk today.

You’ll notice that our brochure also highlights one feature volunteer who provided exceptional support to our LESA programs and resources over the past six months. With so many of you to choose from, this was no easy choice.

But we managed to make a decision, and we’re pleased to feature Tina Huizinga for her outstanding contribution to all three of LESA’s major areas where volunteers provide support! Since July, Tina has served as an author for the 2014 Family Law Practice Manual update, a faculty member at our Child Support seminar, and a CPLED face-to-face learning exercises facilitator for the Oral Advocacy module.

You’ll find our interview with Tina on the front page of the Volunteer Appreciation brochure, but we had such a good interview that we wanted to pass on even more in today’s blog.

Is there a background of people in law in your family?

Nope. I was the first. Actually I was the first person in my family to go to university, period. My mom was a bookkeeper and my dad sold doors and hardware. So they were completely gobsmacked when I said I wanted to be a lawyer. They were like, “Do you even know what a lawyer does? So I cannot explain where that came from at all. It’s just always what I wanted to do. I guess it’s one of those things that people say, “Well that’s a calling I had.”

What motivates you to volunteer?

It’s a sense of wanting to give back. Being a lawyer has afforded me a lot of opportunities financially that I had never expected. Being a lawyer to me was never about the income. I was assuming, because I had planned to be a Crown Prosecutor, that … I wasn’t going to be earning a huge income. So I have the opportunity to do a lot of things that I didn’t expect to be able to do, and I think it’s important to give back and share what I’ve learned. That was part of why I was a sessional instructor at the U of A as well. I was teaching Techniques in Negotiations, and part of every class was a section called Coaches Corner, which is not just about law and the practice of law but also some practical advice that I wish people had given me when I was in law school. So it’s sort of wanting people to not make the mistakes I did as a young lawyer, or even now [as a more senior lawyer]. I mean you learn from your mistakes at the time, so I want to pass on my experiences and hope that people learn something from it. I find it really rewarding when people say, “Wow, that was really interesting.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think everybody really needs to find some form of volunteering. … Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, find some outlet and take some time every year to volunteer. It returns itself to you tenfold, in terms of how you feel about yourself. Once you’ve done a volunteer experience, if you’ve never done it before, you’ll realize how beneficial it is. It’s not really altruistic to do it, because you get such a good feeling from helping somebody. I encourage people to do it for their own benefit. And it makes the world a better place. That sounds really Pollyanna, which is not how most people would describe me.

With such a busy career and volunteer schedule, how do you like spending your free time?

I’m a sports nut. I play baseball all summer. … And I have a dog [named Radar] who I spend lots of time with. He’s a mutt, a lab crossed with we don’t know what – maybe some Shepard, maybe something else. It’s like having a small child. I like hanging out with him. He’s adorable. And I love not only playing sports but watching sports. I’m a big Blue Jays fan, I’m a Jets fan, and I’m a Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan, since I grew up in Manitoba.

We hope you appreciated today’s blog and the chance to hear from one of your colleagues. For more of our interview with Tina, check out the Volunteer Appreciation brochure.

If you volunteered for us in the past six months, thank you! Please ensure that your name is listed in the Volunteer Appreciation brochure. We truly appreciate the contributions of all our volunteers, and we sincerely hope no technological or human error would have led to your name being missing from the list. If that did happen we’ll feel terribly about it, and we hope you’ll call (780.420.1987) or email (lesa@lesa.org) so that we can correct the brochure on our website.

Max Blitt QC – CPLED Volunteer

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Nov 242014

LESA values all Max Blittour volunteers and your generous contributions of time, talent, and energy! To show how much we appreciate you, we’ll be posting volunteer profile blogs throughout the year as a way to say thank-you and highlight the specific contributions of our outstanding volunteers.

This feature highlights Max Blitt QC, an enthusiastic CPLED volunteer who assists the face-to-face programing as both a Facilitator and Evaluator.

Max is an associate at Speir Harben and practices primarily in family law, real estate, and wills and estates. He also has extensive experience dealing with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions. He has assisted clients and legal counsel to recover children abducted within Canada and internationally. In addition to international children’s issues, Max works with counsel in foreign countries on support and property issues involving Canada and foreign jurisdictions.

Max is a member of numerous associations, including Canada Family Mediation and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (International). Since 2006, he has served as a Court Appointed Dispute Resolution Officer with the Court of Queen’s Bench. He has had numerous speaking engagements and has volunteered with many organizations, including his ongoing support for CPLED, Alberta’s bar admission program.

For the past 5 years, Max has volunteered with two of CPLED’s in-person modules: Oral Advocacy and Negotiations. Max has worked both as a Facilitator, helping to facilitate learning and provide feedback to students in preparation for the module’s competency evaluation, and as an Evaluator, evaluating the module’s final competency assessment to determine the student’s level of achievement in demonstrating the lawyer competency targeted in the module.

When asked what caused him to start volunteering with CPLED, Max said that he was motivated to get involved by a “desire to give back” and because he enjoys “working with younger lawyers.” LESA certainly appreciates the wealth of experience he brings from his work assisting with the recovery of abducted children and dealing with support and property issues. And Max says that he’s happy to impart any of the insights he’s gained over the years, especially since “the idea of advocacy transcends any one area of the law.”

We also asked Max what he most enjoys most about volunteering with CPLED. For Max, it’s the “opportunity to work with future lawyers as well as the other lawyers who volunteer with CPLED.” While he certainly values the opportunity to help young lawyers develop the skills they will need to succeed in their future practice, he also emphasizes the value of connecting with colleagues. He says that “it’s key to get to know other lawyers in social settings.”

Max says his advice to fellow lawyers is “volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.” He describes volunteering with CPLED as “one of the most rewarding things you can do, and one of the most meaningful ways to give back.”

One last fun fact about Max, he enjoys using physical fitness to help achieve balance in his busy schedule. He also enjoys travelling and is part of a group who takes bicycle trips around the world. He’s been to many places, including Croatia, Spain, and Italy. And his favorite place to visit: “a place I’ve never been.”

If you would like information about volunteering with CPLED’s online modules, please contact Bronwyn Connolly, LESA’s Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator at bronwyn.connolly@lesa.org or at 780-969-3555.

If you are interested in volunteering with CPLED’s face-to-face modules, please contact Janette Sztym, LESA’s Program Coordinator at janette.sztym@lesa.org or at 780-969-3553.

Running Your First Real Estate Transaction

 LESA Update, Upcoming Seminars, Volunteer Profile  Comments Off on Running Your First Real Estate Transaction
Aug 082013

Makiko_HataOn September 18 (Edmonton) and September 25 (Calgary), LESA is offering the Running Your First Real Estate Transaction seminar for new lawyers or those who are not experienced in real estate law. Chair Makiko Hata, an Associate with Ogilvie LLP who has been a real estate lawyer for nine years, will be walking practitioners through their first real estate transaction. The training will include a thorough review of trust conditions, reporting letters, real property reports, holdbacks, title insurance, and protocol closings.

Makiko previously taught the real estate section of the CPLED program in 2012 and 2013, and she believes it is important for new lawyers to gain an understanding of real estate law at the beginning of their careers.

“Real estate is an integral area of law of a lawyer’s practice. It is essential for new lawyers to learn the fundamentals of real estate early in their practice as this will assist the lawyer in other areas of law,” explains Makiko.

Makiko finds volunteering “a great way to give back to our profession,” and it is volunteers like her who make it possible for LESA to provide a spectrum of quality education and professional development resources.


Upcoming September Seminars:

  • Basic Collaborative Law
  • Analyzing Financial Statements

For the most up-to-date information on all LESA’s live events as well as educational resources, pre-call admission training, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.lesa.org