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President's Message

Dear Colleagues:

On behalf of the Executive of the Calgary Bar Association, Happy New Year and best wishes to you and your families for 2017.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your President in the 127th year of the Calgary Bar Association.  The beginning of a new year presents the opportunity to adopt resolutions that will see us better ourselves over the coming 12 months; but this time of year also offers the opportunity to reflect on blessings that have been bestowed upon us.  As members of the Calgary Bar Association we share a common blessing; the ability to practice law in this vibrant city while embracing the backbone provisions of the Calgary Bar Association's constitution to uphold the interest of the legal profession and encourage cordial intercourse amongst its members.  It is the observation of these tenants, by each of us, that make the Calgary Bar Association truly unique among like legal associations.  Those tenants of the Calgary Bar Association were forged in economic times not unlike those our Province currently faces.
I had the pleasure to be able to speak to the history of the CBA on a couple of occasions in 2015, being the 125th anniversary of the association.  As many of you will know, the CBA was established May 12, 1890 and at a time when Calgary was growing at the rate of 1,000 persons per year.  The legal profession, for good reason, was not enjoying gains at the same pace.  Lawyers were arriving at the rate of less than 2 per year.  While one would think that ratio would be good for the business of law such was not the case.  For most of Calgary's lawyers, at that time numbering 13, it was tough to make a living from legal work alone.
The state of competition between lawyers for the available legal work was such that lawyers were engaged in the practice of undercutting one another's fees.  And so it was that the Calgary Bar Association was created under the auspices of taking remedial action to restore the prosperity and standing of the legal profession.

Invited to the offices of Lougheed, McCarthy & Beck, a veritable convention of lawyers assembled to discuss and resolve the creation of our association for the purpose of cultivating a feeling of professional brotherhood, to discuss matters affecting the interest of the profession and to take united action thereon.  Item number 1 on their agenda was to get rid of the unlicensed real estate agents and promoters who had invaded the conveyancing field and were attacking the lawyers' ability to earn a livelihood.
While arguably, protectionism was on the minds of the founders of the association the ultimate outcome was the embrace of civility and collegiality amongst those practicing law.
Present day, all of us would likely advise that one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do for a living is the fact that we work alongside and opposite good colleagues in a collegial manner and at all times practicing with respect for civility. 
It is remarkable that as the Calgary Bar Association enters its 126th year that I can report to you that the Calgary Bar Association continues to satisfy the prime objectives of upholding the honour of the profession and promoting cordial intercourse amongst its members.
I can only report as much because of the efforts that you, as members, have taken to ensure that the CBA remains relevant and vibrant.  No matter what happens on an economic front or otherwise, we can all be confident we will remain both relevant and vibrant throughout 2016 and beyond.  That confidence is gained in large measure due to efforts of the dedicated and energetic executive members of the Calgary Bar Association who will serve you.  They are:

  • James L. Lutz, Vice President
  • Susan E. Pepper, Treasurer
  • Jerry J. Patterson, Secretary
  • April D. Grosse, Senior Member
  • Jay S. Headrick, Middle Member
  • Gord Sterchi, Junior Member

The Executive will also be populated by Past President, Craig Steele, who skillfully shepherded the association as it celebrated its 125th anniversary year.  We will surely benefit from Craig's wisdom and good humor over the next year and thank him, in advance, for what will be seven years of dedicated service to the Calgary Bar Association.

While we remain committed to cultivating positive relations amongst our members through our social events, the Calgary Bar Association remains involved in the legal community through sponsorship of the Milvain Chair in Advocacy at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, providing assistance to charitable associations through our annual charity golf tournament, and through the establishment of a new scholarship at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law which confers an award on a successful recipient who has demonstrated superior academic performance all while remaining a contributing citizen within the Faculty of Law and the broader community. 

Milvain Chair in Advocacy

In 1979, to commemorate the retirement of Chief Justice J.V.H. Milvain, the Calgary Bar Association commenced the annual funding of a visiting Chair in Advocacy at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. The creation of the Chair has enabled the Faculty to invite a leading counsel or jurist to the Faculty each year to participate in the trial advocacy course and to present a special lecture to students and to members of the practicing and academic legal communities. The distinguished individuals who have held the Milvain Chair in Advocacy have been invaluable contributors to the instruction and promotion of Advocacy to law students in Calgary.

This year the Faculty of Law and Calgary Bar Association are pleased to report that Mr. David Tavender, Q.C. agreed to serve as the Chair. Mr. Tavender is a well-respected Calgary civil litigation lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, whose outstanding legal skills are only exceeded by his warm personality and good humour. Mr. Tavender’s lecture took place on Thursday, January 8, 2015 focusing on the topic of Appellate Advocacy.


The Calgary Bar Association has continued its proud tradition of making donations to non-profit and charitable organizations.  In the past we supported organizations such as Calgary Legal guidance, Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society, and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre.  Typically, the Calgary Bar Association seeks to benefit charitable organizations that, in some measure, touch on the legal community.  We will continue to be supportive of such organizations throughout the coming year, in particular establishing a giving initiative involving the Calgary Drug Treatment Court Society.  This is yet another way in which our membership truly gives back to the community. 

Upcoming Events

On the social front, scheduled events for this year are as follows: 

  • Curling Bonspiel – Friday April 7, 2017 at the Glencoe Club
  • Battle of the Law Bands – Thursday June 1, 2017 at Flames Central
  • Retirement Dinner – Monday June 26, 2017for Honourable Chief Justice Neil Wittmann.  Westin Hotel.   For tickets please contact:  retirementdinner2017@bennettjones.com.  Sandra Anderson at 403-298-4461. 
  • Stampede Whoop Up – Tuesday July 11, 2017 at the Wild Horse Saloon
  • Charity Golf Tournament – Friday September 8, 2017 at the Banff Springs Golf Course; and
  • Annual General Meeting/Fall Bash – November 2, 2017 at the National on 10th.

I encourage those interested in curling to respond with a registration form quickly.  Past years have proven that this event is immensely popular and fills up quickly.  Past years have also demonstrated, no curling experience is necessary and team costumes are highly encouraged.

Save the date of June 1 to attend Battle of the Law Bands.  The CBA has teamed up with Eleanor Carlson, Brad Milne and Grant Stevens to present a showcase of musical talents from Calgary's Bench and Bar.  All proceeds will benefit Calgary Legal Guidance.

Each of you will receive a registration form for the golf tournament in our Spring mail out; but as a heads up, we will be working with Banff Park Lodge to provide a preferential room rate to those in the tournament.  Mark your calendars now to take advantage of that offer.

Annual Membership

Remember, you must be a member of our association in order to attend our events.  A membership form is available for download here for those of you who prefer to use "hard copy" rather than registering online. The membership fee for 2016 will remain at $65.00 (including GST). We hope that this will encourage all lawyers and students to join our association.

The current Executive and I very much look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at our events. For your past and prospective support of the Calgary Bar Association we thank you. 


Calgary Bar Association
Sean E.D. Fairhurst

Events Calendar


Curling Bonspiel
Friday April 7, 2017


Battle of the Law Bands
Thursday June 1, 2017
at Flames Central


Retirement Dinner
Honourable Chief Justice Neil Wittmann
Monday June 26, 2017
Send email for tickets
or phone Sandra Anderson:


Stampede Whoop Up
Tuesday July 11,2017
Wild Horse Saloon


Charity Golf tournament
Friday September 8, 2017
Banff Springs Golf Course


AGM/Fall Bash
Thursday, Nov 2nd 2017
from 4 to 8 pm
at the National on 10th