By the board: Q&A with René Basque

  • September 12, 2018

As member both before and after the change in governance styles last year, former President RenĂ© Basque has a unique perspective on what it’s like to serve on the of the CBA Board of Directors. Here’s an interesting note: when his term ended on Aug. 31, the Board was left with no members who were called to the Bar before 1990. We asked RenĂ© to answer a few questions about his experience. (The following interview has been condensed.)

Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done as a Board member?

A: When I went to Rome to speak at a conference presented by the Italian Minister of Justice with bar association leaders from the other G7 countries. I spoke about the balancing act that we have to do, with freedom of speech versus hate crimes. That for me was like, wow. Apart from the venue, to speak on behalf of Canadian lawyers was a great honour.

Q. What has surprised you about being a Board member?

A: (After being on the board as president of CBA New Brunswick, then three years on the executive ladder) there was nothing really that surprising. It was always an interesting challenge to chair 42 lawyers who are control enthusiasts, let’s say. Last year was a smaller board, it was much more hands-on. As a board member you could really be putting in 10-15 hours a week easy, even though you’re not the president or vice-president, because it is a working board now and I think that is one thing that we have got to tell the new people coming in – this is not a board you join just to have it on your CV. You’re expected – and you need – to work hard.

Q: How are you able to balance your Board responsibilities with your practice and your personal life?

A: I run it like a file, I know I have this, I put it in my schedule.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about running for a Board position?

A: Read the bylaws, understand what you’re getting into, find what you want to do while you’re there for your two years, and try to put the little pegs in a row so that when you get there you can hit the ground running.