From the Board: Jeff Howe

  • November 13, 2018

Jeff HoweThe voice of the legal profession, the CBA is a powerful ally and advocate for our members and the public. We promote and support the rule of law and the administration of justice at home and abroad. We influence and assist with law reform. We strive to ensure greater equality in the legal profession. We are the premiere provider in Canada of professional development programming. And the list goes on. These foundation stones of the CBA’s work, and the opportunity to help shape them and build upon them, is what attracted me to run for a seat on the national Board of Directors.

Serving on the Board has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, hands down. Together with my colleagues, I’ve been part of establishing a new lawyers’ mental health and wellness subcommittee; approving a new task force designed to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action within the organization; continuing the International Initiatives Program; reducing membership fees over two years; re-aligning revenue and revenue distribution for the provincial and territorial branches and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association. We’ve taken steps to diversify our revenue; helped to bring a definition of diversity to the association’s bylaws as part of the Equality Subcommittee; prioritized – in terms of our national advocacy work – access to justice and protection of solicitor-client privilege. All this, and the opportunity to connect with incredible people from all over the country, gaining invaluable experience … these are among the many things that I would mention in a conversation about what has made serving on the Board so rewarding.

The two-year term was preceded in August last year by an amazing board training program in TO that was delivered by the Rotman School of Management. That was followed by the annual President’s Dinner in Montreal – presented by outgoing President René Basque – which was fantastique, with new CBA friends and late night absinthe and poutine. The Kerry Simmons’ President’s Dinner in Ottawa last February was just plain awesome, because in accepting the annual President’s Award, Senator Murray Sinclair gave one of the best speeches, ever. Chatting briefly with Senator Sinclair was a real privilege too.

Prior to the first meeting of the current board (2018-19), I attended the annual transfer of the Chain of Office ceremony in Halifax this past September. In his speech, incoming President Ray Adlington spoke openly about his struggle with depression in recent years following heart surgery, and of his personal priority for the year being the promotion of greater inclusion in our profession. Ray’s leadership and courage struck a chord in me, as I think it did in many who had the privilege to attend.

The Chief Justice hosts a dinner for the national Board at the Supreme Court every year. I will never forget it, last February: enjoying good food and conversation with colleagues and branch presidents from various provinces and territories, along with Justices Karakatsanis and Côté at our table. And sharing a conversation before the dinner with Justice Abella – now that was probably the highlight to date, for me.