What makes this work worthwhile?
This Spring, I celebrated 10 years as the Executive Director of the CBA, BC Branch. Before that, I served on the CBABC Management Team with some great EDs, in particular Frank Kraemer, QC, who recently retired from his own position as Executive Director of the Supreme Courts of BC. At this point in a career of leadership service – and I’m sure others out there will recognize this – there is inevitably a time of questioning about whether what you are doing is still invigorating, and whether you still bring the best of yourself to work.
The answer, for me, is more complicated than a simple “yes.” So many of the same issues keep rising up, year after year – underfunding of legal aid, under-resourcing of the courts, poor rural access to legal services, and other deep injustices that come from being the much lower political priority behind health, education and others. It is tiring to fight those same battles over many years, so it takes endless depths of faith and belief that without the CBA and what we do year after year – never, ever giving up – things would be so much worse for us as a society. I confess to being unwaveringly optimistic. I believe that inevitably, by will or by legal force, we will continue to make progress in not just protecting what is good in our justice system, but also in making it better.
I meet with young lawyers and aspiring-to-be lawyers often. It is an essential inoculation against cynicism, and I highly recommend it. The same passion and vision that motivated so many of you to enter law are there, in spades. But also higher than ever levels of technological know-how, a strong sense of inter-connectedness, and a fundamental belief that every voice and action matters. Sure, they will buck up against a system that has fed on hierarchy and precedent forever, but they seem surprisingly resilient and impervious in a way that is different to those who came before. These really ARE the lawyers of the future and, hopefully, smart people in their path – principals, managing partners, ADMs and GCs – will see the amazing value in what they have to offer, learn from them, and help pave their way.
I see the same thing in our own staff. We are a small office, and we rely on young people to fill many of the essential roles of an administrative office that is focused almost exclusively on supporting the Association’s work done by hundreds of lawyer volunteers with busy lives. These young staff are bright, enthusiastic, and drawn to being part of something that has a big impact in the world. Their energy and outlook give everyone around them, including me, a sharper attentiveness and different perspective to our everyday work.
Speaking of volunteers, that is another great energy-booster to someone in my role. I am challenged every day to match the commitment and ideas that stem from so many great people who engage with the CBA, both at the Branch level and on the National stage. Of special significance, on August 17 we will see a BC lawyer – Kerry Simmons, QC of Victoria – become the first National President of the first CBA Board elected on the basis of competency, diversity and personal passion for creating a new CBA that delivers great service locally but also looks beyond provincial/territorial boundaries and asserts the profession’s significant role in Canada. How exciting is that?!
So yes, despite the challenges, there is still invigoration in this role and yes, I am endlessly stimulated to bring my best to work. I hope the same for all of you!