For my undergraduate studies, I bounced around from Royal Roads Military College (when it was a military college), a community college in Prince George and the University of Alberta. I almost finished a commerce degree before deciding to go to the University of Victoria, where I obtained my law degree in 1993.
My career has followed a somewhat similar trajectory in that I started out practising in personal injury but quickly switched to operating my own law practice with an emphasis on First Nation and environmental issues. I then moved to Ottawa to work with Nunavut Tunngavit Inc., the negotiating body prior to the creation of Nunavut, and the Indian Claims Commission, addressing historic claims across Canada.
After a few years, I made the decision to work with the Government of Canada in 1998. While there I held various positions in the Department of Justice in Ottawa and Vancouver and near the end in both locations. I finished my time there as the Director of The Aboriginal Law Section, responsible for the provision of legal services along these three business lines: general litigation, including rights and title; dispute resolution services, including addressing the legacy of residential schools; and advisory services for the regional client of AANDC.
In 2015, I returned to private practice and focused on working as counsel with my community, Saulteau First Nations, and the First Nations Health Authority.
A Short Synopsis:
I will discuss my circuitous educational path and how I made the decision to go to law school. I will talk a little bit about admissions into law school as my experience is probably very stale dated, having participated on admissions committees over a decade ago. I will discuss some of the more high profile cases I have been involved in while with the DoJ, including class actions dealing with the legacy of residential schools, the first declaration of Aboriginal title and if there is interest other public law cases. I will also talk about the transition from public law practice to private practice and briefly touch on other practice areas like trusts, employment law and business.
Finally, I will end with some themes that I have observed over my time practising law and what may be the coming challenges and opportunities facing the profession along with those who may be interested in joining it.