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The lawyerly stampede to Calgary

|Written By Kirsten McMahon

Calgary, the heart of the new West, will play host to the 2007 Canadian Bar Association’s Canadian Legal Conference and Expo and promises to be one of the must-attend events of the summer.

Bernard Amyot is the incoming president of the Candian Bar Association.
Bernard Amyot is the incoming president of the Candian Bar Association.

The conference, taking place Aug. 12 to 14 at the Telus Convention Centre in the middle of Cowtown, has a full slate of unique CLE programs, social programming, and networking opportunities for lawyers across the nation.

This year’s conference serves up some notable keynote speakers with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Boston University professor Elie Wiesel delivering the opening speech on Aug. 12. Wiesel’s personal experience of the Holocaust has led him to use his talents as an author, teacher, and storyteller to defend human rights and peace throughout the world.

Bernard Amyot, incoming CBA president, notes that he’s particularly looking forward to Wiesel’s speech at the opening plenary, and says he’s also excited about Juno-award winning musical guest Jann Arden, who will be performing after the law firm receptions on Aug. 13.

“That has always been our strength, the CLE, but we’ve added to that enhanced entertainment. We started with Great Big Sea in St. John’s last year, which was a great success,” says Amyot.

Amyot, a partner at Heenan Blaikie in Montreal who first got involved with the CBA more than 20 years ago, says besides the great entertainment, the CBA will continue the tradition of strong CLE programming and interesting and informative speakers.

“I think the quality of the keynote speakers and that we have speakers during breakfast, we have interesting people coming to address our attendees. I think we’ve taken great care to enhance these things surrounding the more serious part of the gathering.”

Indeed, the program lists more than 20 CLE programs in all practice areas, including IP, internet crime, the environment, global class actions, as well as larger professional issues, such as ethics and women in the law. There will also be a couple of intriguing sessions discussing the outcome of the Gomery (ad scam) and Bellamy (Toronto computer leasing) inquiries and on the role of law in the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

In the tradition of previous conferences, Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson will address CBA council, attendees, and the press during the annual “bear pit” session on Aug. 13. Also listed as speakers are former politicians Preston Manning (former leader of the Opposition), Peter Lougheed (former premier of Alberta), Justice John Gomery, as well as author and visionary Leonard Brody.

At the same time as the CBA conference, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association is also holding its annual conference at the Hyatt Calgary Hotel. Incoming CCCA president Bruce Noble, city solicitor and corporate secretary for the City of Fredericton, says that, while he enjoys the networking opportunities of the event, he’s gearing up for the solid CLE program.

“I have some of my own issues to deal with,” he says. “While I’m the incoming president of the CCCA, I’m also the national chair of the municipal law section and so we’ve got a program that’s taking place dealing with the relationships between the federal government and municipal governments and the legal implications that arise from that.

“On the CLE side, that’s a great deal of interest to me.”

The conference starts with an opening plenary where ethics and corporate social responsibility are the themes. During the two-day conference, there are more than 15 CLE sessions and workshops on a host of issues, including corporate governance, privilege, income trusts, and privacy.

“As far as our program is concerned, we have some excellent, excellent presenters on a number of issues. The GC roundtable is one that I’m particularly looking forward to attending,” says Nobel. “It’s chockablock.”

The CCCA program also features an interesting list of keynote speakers and presenters.

At an Aug. 13 breakfast, Gail Asper, president of CanWest Global Foundation and corporate secretary of CanWest Global Communications Corp., will deliver a keynote speech.

“I think she’s going to be a most intriguing person to listen to, not just because of what she’s doing and how she’s doing it but also the family background,” says Nobel.

Other speakers include Andrea Mandel-Campbell, an international markets and global competitive expert and author of Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson: Rescuing Canadian Companies From the Suds of Global Obscurity.

As if the CLE and entertainment programming of the CBA and CCCA conferences isn’t enough, there’s also the Judges Day Conference on Aug. 14, the at-home dinners on Aug. 11, the Law for the Future golf tournament, and a slew of receptions and late-night parties to keep everyone busy.

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