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Family Law During Recessionary Times – Presentation Sneak Preview

Family Law During Recessionary TimesIn strained economic climates, lawyers must often help their clients face many issues. In 2016, for example, there were approximately 70,000 divorces in Canada, ranging in cost from $5,000 to $100,000+. Individuals involved in family law matters can feel extremely overwhelmed, not only due to financial aspects but also due to the emotional stresses involved.In strained economic climates, lawyers must often help their clients face many issues. In 2016, for example, there were approximately 70,000 divorces in Canada, ranging in cost from $5,000 to $100,000+. Individuals involved in family law matters can feel extremely overwhelmed, not only due to financial aspects but also due to the emotional stresses involved.

In times of need, there are various support systems available for individuals who are party to a family action. Counselling, financial aid, and other types of support are readily available and can provide people with the tools they need to cope. However, this trend is not commonly provided by law firms managing family law matters.

Though uncommon, law firms that provide client support coordination are not unheard of. Amy Struyk, Client Support Coordinator, Community Outreach and Marketing Assistant Resolve Legal Group provides relief to clients managing family law issues.

In a recent interview, we spoke with Cyndy Morin, chair of our upcoming program Family Law During Recessionary Times to learn more about the firm’s Client Support Coordination Program and about Amy’s presentation, Partnering with Community Agencies to Provide Better Support for BetterLegal Outcomes. Here’s what she had to say.

When I first opened my practice, I had people presenting issues like, “Oh gosh, I have to get a new car now; should I buy a new one or just lease?” or, “I need a place to stay; what should I do?”. However, as a lawyer, there is no legal answer I could provide to those kinds of questions. What these clients were really looking for was friendly advice. I remember saying to a client once, “Well, I have my own opinion of what you should do, but you should really reach out to a car dealer and ask them”. But, they were not able to focus on their legal issues because they were so stressed out about practical issues. I couldn’t bill them for my advice, but that’s what they really needed before they could deal with the legal aspects. Amy’s role, in part, is to do outreach to find out what programs that are available in the community, so when clients come in with a specific need, she can help them find the answers they need from a non-legal perspective.”

When clients are provided with support by law firms, it helps them reduce anxiety and manage these practical issues so that they can stay focused on their families and not the legal issues at hand.

As noted by Cyndy, the other part of Amy’s role is to ensure that lawyers are adhering to the firm’s internal service standards. For example, if a lawyer in the firm is not returning phone calls (maybe due to their involvement in various litigation matters or to the client’s satisfaction), clients can contact Amy and anonymously provide their feedback. Then as a firm, we can discuss various methods for providing that lawyer with the assistance they need to resolve the issue. This reduces our risk of being reported to the Law Society of Alberta, it helps us coach junior lawyers, and at the same time, clients feel they have someone there to support them in every way, including non-legal. They have a support system of people when they’re going through family law matters.

Register Online

Register online to attend Family Law During Recessionary Times in Calgary (October 4) or in Edmonton (October 11), and discover how to manage family files effectively.

Delve into additional topics, including:

  • Practical Approaches for Sustainable Family Law Solutions | Cyndy Morin (Edmonton), Amy Struyk (Calgary)
  • Foreclosure Processes & Considerations | Grant W.D. Cameron
  • Educate Professionals About Options | Donna Carson
  • How to Decipher Taxes | Jonathan Garbutt
  • Tax Return Tips for Separating Couples: Putting More Money in Their Pockets | Sharon Numerow
  • Providing More Affordable Family Law Services | John-Paul E. Boyd
  • Client Coordination to Services and Programs | Bailey Rivard

View the program brochure to learn more.

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Sneak Program Preview—Family Farm Issues

Did you know that there are currently more than 70,000 farmers in Alberta?

Our province is one of the world’s most productive agricultural economies and Canada’s second largest agricultural producer. We have over three million head of cattle, lead the provinces in spring wheat production, and provide over 15,000 jobs in the forestry industry—contributing billions of dollars annually.

With our agricultural roots firmly planted, it should come as no surprise that family farm owners face a plethora of legal issues. Join program chair Colin Simmons (Counsel West Law) and a distinguished faculty to explore some of the common issues and challenges faced by those with family farms.

About the Faculty

Colin Simmons, practices primarily in the area of agricultural law and matters involving land, livestock, farm corporations, farm estate planning, taxation and matrimonial law. Colin attended Princeton University where he received a BA in Economics (1976) before articling with MacKimmie Matthews law firm in Calgary. He was called to the Alberta Bar in 1981, is a co-author of Alberta Agriculture’s Home Study Course on Farm Estate Planning, and currently co-owns a farm near Rosemary, Alberta.

Learn about the rest of the panel.

About the Program

Delve into matrimonial property, estate planning, corporate structuring, tax, and other family farm related matters. Topics will include,

  • best practices in agricultural real estate
  • water rights and related issues
  • matrimonial property considerations
  • wind and solar farms

And more!

Discover how to effectively and competently advise clients involved in farming. Learn strategies, tips, and traps from seasoned lawyers who understand the complexities and nuances of working with farm-based clients.


Join us for Family Farm Issues. Register online to attend in

Register by September 26, 2017, to take advantage of our early bird pricing.

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September Upcoming Legal Events

September Upcoming Legal Events

Check out this month’s list of upcoming legal events.


Effective Legal Support: Civil Litigation
Explore strategies for increasing legal support efficiency and effectiveness in civil litigation matters. Register today to reserve your spot in this program.

September 12, 2017 (Calgary)

• September 19, 2017 (Edmonton)


Understanding the Brain – What Lawyers Need to Know
The effects of conflict, addiction, and mental illness affect the way people think. Investigate brain science to better understand and serve clients and others. Register today to reserve your spot.

Edmonton (September 13, 2017)



Negotiations Fundamentals
Participate in this hands-on workshop and explore negotiation theory and develop communication and negotiation skills. Reserve your spot in this program

September 14, 2017 (Edmonton)

September 21, 2017 (Calgary)


Effective Legal Writing
Improve your writing through hands-on practice and individual feedback. Registrants are required to view resource materials and complete pre-course work in the LESA Classroom. Register today.

September 15, 2017 (Edmonton)

September 22, 2017 (Calgary)


Basic Collaborative Law
Discover the dynamics of interpersonal conflict, negotiation theory, and how to create safe, respectful, and proactive processes for resolving disputes.

Register online



The face-to-face session Interviewing & Advising will be held in Calgary (September 25–27, 2017) and in Edmonton (September 27–29). View the calendar or visit our website for more details.

Legal Community Events

Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research & Innovative Opportunities (ACP CRIO)

The ACP CRIO program is hosting 2 free events at the Banff Centre on Friday, September 8, 2017. Click here to learn more.

Edmonton Legal Build  

Join Edmonton Legal Build this year for the Race Judicata 2017 Fun Run, and continue the legal community’s important work of building a home for a deserving local family.

  • When: September 16, 2017 (9:30 a.m. Arrival & 10:00 a.m. Race Start)
  • Where: Borden Park (7703 Borden Park Rd NW, Edmonton)
  • What: Fun Walk/Run in support of the Jean McBean QC Legal Build

For more information, click here.


This September, the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) is holding its Annual Walk for Wellness events in Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton. Click here to learn more.

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community, contact Andrea Maltais, Communications Coordinator.

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Program Feature: The Business of Running a Law Practice

Are you a lawyer with your own small, medium, or large-sized firm?  

Are you currently involved in aspects of firm management, or would you like to be involved in firm management?

Practicing law is different from the business of law. Gain practical strategies and information to help you become successful in managing the business side of your legal practice. Learn more about our upcoming program The Business of Running a Law Practice in (Calgary, October 18) and (Edmonton, October 25).

About the Program

Review the fundamentals of running a prosperous, thriving law practice, and discuss specific strategies to assist you with office management, client development, and human resources management.

Review an array of topics crucial to running a law practice, including day-to-day business operations, alternative fee structures, marketing, technology solutions, human resources issues, and much more.

We recently spoke with David Tupper, program chair, who shared why he is looking forward to this program.

I’m expecting to learn as much as anybody else in the room and that’s exciting to me. I think that the great virtue of this kind of program is drawing together, in a relatively uncommon way, lawyers from across the spectrum to share ideas. We’ve got a tremendous bar and we learn best from each other.”

David’s litigation practice involves all aspects of corporate/commercial litigation with an emphasis on construction law, securities law, insurance law, environmental law, and oil and gas law. He regularly appears before all levels of courts in Alberta as well as in the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal. In securities matters, he frequently appears before the Alberta Securities Commission. David also maintains a considerable advisory practice in connection with environmental issues, property and liability policies, and reinsurance losses.

David highlighted what attendees will gain from the program:

I think the best thing about this program, which frankly is common to a lot of the LESA programs, is that attendees will get on-the-ground advice from people who are dealing with these issues and have dealt with them for a number of years. You can read all you want in the legal press about these topics, but the real light bulbs turn on when you listen to others who have been there and are there right now.”

He also spoke about the diversity of the panel.

There will be lawyers from both Edmonton and Calgary present. We’re going to have someone from the executive committee of a large law firm involved, and we’re going to have someone from a small rural firm involved. We’ll also cover family, criminal, and corporate law.”


Network with experienced practitioners from various practice areas, and gain valuable insight from colleagues succeeding in practice management. Reserve your spot in The Business of Running a Law Practice.

Register online to attend in:

View the program brochure for more details.

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Program Feature—Negotiations Fundamentals

As a lawyer, you negotiate on a daily basis, whether with colleagues, clients, or opposing counsel. Often, unforeseen tensions arise that can steer negotiations in an undesirable direction. Explore negotiation theory and develop your communication and negotiation skills in our upcoming program, Negotiations Fundamentals.

There are many circumstances that can affect the outcome of negotiations, including personality conflicts, communication styles, and more. However, there are key concepts designed to assist you in avoiding costly errors and questionable tactics. Learn to recognize some of the fundamental tensions that arise in negotiations, and gain knowledge to increase your efficiency and effectiveness in the process.

Michelle Christopher QC, program chair, has completed certificate programs in mediation, negotiation, and dispute resolution pedagogy from Harvard. Michelle is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and was appointed Queen’s Counsel on January 28, 2016. She is an Associate Professor at U of C and has taught negotiation, mediation, and dispute resolution clinical courses, amongst others, for many years as well as sitting as a Dispute Resolution Officer and Mediator in QB and Provincial Court.

I’m excited by the opportunity to share my extensive training and expertise in negotiation theory and practice to help lawyers at any level become better negotiators by providing better client service and achieving results.”

According to Michelle, Negotiations Fundamentals is unique in that it will enable participants to prepare for success in negotiations.

Regardless of level of skill, participants will come away from the course with a solid understanding of how to achieve good results for clients when negotiating. Participants will benefit from the interactive nature of this course, exploring and discussing theoretical perspectives in combination with in-class negotiation exercises and simulations while receiving immediate feedback from noted experts and seasoned practitioners.”

Topics and Takeaways

Explore the differences between interest-based negotiation and bargaining for competitive gain and discuss the impact of personality and communication style on negotiation. Participate in a series of short, interactive exercises and negotiation simulations designed to enhance your understanding of basic concepts, including value claiming, value creation, Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (WATNA), Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA), target and reservation points, and more. Discuss more advanced topics including barriers to success, emotions in negotiation, tactics and strategies, and more.

Key takeaways include:

• Understanding basic negotiation theory, including dilemmas posed by the value-claiming vs. value-creating paradigm

• Recognizing the impact of personality and communication style on negotiation

• Learning how to effectively prepare for negotiation

• Anticipating barriers to success

• Developing strategies for responding to tactics which can derail negotiations


Register online to attend Negotiations Fundamentals in Edmonton (September 14) or in Calgary (September 21). For more information, view the program brochure.

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ACP CRIO: Free Presentation for Wills & Trusts, Elder, & Health Law Lawyers

Advance Care Planning Collaborative Research & Innovative Opportunities (ACP CRIO) program is hosting 2 free events at the Banff Centre on Friday, September 8, 2017.

Lunch Meeting Alberta Medical Legal Collaboration on Advance Care Planning

Who Should Attend: Lawyers who practice in Wills & Estates, Elder, or Health Law are invited to attend.

When/Where: 12:00–1:00 PM | Friday, September 8 | Banff Centre


Health & Legal Sector Collaboration to Support Advance Care Planning Panel Presentation

ACP CRIOSpeakers: Co-Chair | Nola Ries, Associate Professor in Health Law, Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
Co-Chair | Elizabeth Tobin-Tyler, Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University School of Public Health.

When & Where: 1:15–2:45 PM | Friday, September 8 | Banff Centre | Banff, Alberta.

Details: This panel presentation is part of the International Society of Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care (ACPEL) conference. Click here to learn more about the presentations and speakers.


Space is limited. Click here to register for these events. For more information, please contact Maureen Douglas BA, JD.

*Note: If you are interested in attending other events in the ACPEL program (that is, events other than the Health and Legal panel and lunch), please to register through the conference website (fees will be payable). Click here for program and registration details.

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Assist: Annual Walks for Wellness


Assist Walk for Wellness

Have you heard of the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society’s (Assist) free annual Walk for Wellness events? This September, Assist is holding its Annual Walk for Wellness events in Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton.

Locations, Dates, & Times

Join Alberta’s legal community for a free walk at,

  • Fort McMurray: Thursday, September 7, 2017 | 12:00 PM | Courthouse Park
  • Lethbridge: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | 12:00 PM | Courthouse Park
  • Calgary: Thursday, September 14, 2017 | 12:00 PM | Courthouse Park
  • Red Deer: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 | 12:00 PM | Courthouse Park
  • Edmonton: Thursday, September 21, 2017 | 12:00 PM | University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Pledge to enjoy more Family Time, Active Time, Quiet Time, Reflective Time, or Fun Time.

Help promote health and wellness and raise awareness of Assist’s services this fall. There are prizes to be won and plenty of fun to be had!

More Information

Get more information about this year’s Walk for Wellness events.

Have questions? Call, 1.877.737.5508 or 403.537.5508.

If you want LESA’s help to raise awareness about an upcoming event relevant to the Alberta legal community,
contact Andrea Maltais, Communications Coordinator, at 780.969.0555 or


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LESA Welcomes New Executive Director, Maura O. Sutherland

Maura O. SutherlandEffective August 15, 2017Maura O. Sutherland assumes the role of LESA’s new Executive Director and Director, CPLED Alberta. We’re looking forward to having her lead our team as we continue our proud tradition of serving the spectrum of educational and professional development needs of Alberta’s legal community.

Meet Maura

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised Albertan – from rural Alberta. My dad was a teacher, so I naturally gained an appreciation for education and lifelong learning. I have lived in Edmonton for 20 years… receiving my sociology degree at the University of Alberta and then following up with a law degree. I started my legal career at Alberta Justice and Solicitor General in Edmonton and have been there ever since. I worked originally as a general solicitor on various files and then specialized in Aboriginal law, where I stayed for 9 years before entering the continuing legal education (CLE) world full time.”

How did you become interested in law and CLE?

Law school was a bit of serendipity. I was doing a sociology degree and looking at my prospects for a career when I realized there wasn’t a whole lot out there outside of academia, so I chose law. It seemed to be a good fit. I’ve always been involved with social issues in our community, in Alberta, and beyond. I’m very interested in helping the underdog, and law seemed to be a good choice for me. The career I’ve had so far, as a civil servant, was another good fit for what I’ve always wanted to do, which is to help the public. CLE came to me right out of articling. I’ve always been involved with articling programs at Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. I value what I continue to learn, and I find fresh perspective really valuable. That’s what has kept me going in the CLE world. I value education, ongoing development, and lifelong learning, so CLE has become a natural fit with my personality and interests.”

What do you like best about your current job, and what are you looking forward to most at LESA?

I work with brilliant people: lawyers, support staff, and non-lawyers. I like working with such a diverse group with various skills sets and levels of expertise. I look forward to doing more of this at LESA, to connecting with people in our profession and with the people who work at LESA—who seem just as brilliant the ones I’m leaving. What I’m most looking forward to is creating opportunities to help build and service the profession that I have so much respect for.”

What makes LESA a good fit for you?

I’ve been connected with LESA throughout my entire career. The organizational learning values that LESA follows really fit with my view of the legal profession. I want to have an impact, and I feel like I can do that here though education. Education touches all areas of our profession and is the key to changing the way we think.”

Do you volunteer at any other organizations?

I have a lot of respect for the volunteer community. I have always been one of those people that others can count on when they are in need of a volunteer. I’m a huge patron of the arts, so over the years I have done a lot of volunteer work in the arts community. I believe that volunteers make the world go round.”

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

My family is number 1. My husband is a business owner, and together we have 3 kids. I have a 24-year-old stepdaughter, a 16-year-old stepson, and a 6.5- year-old son. We recently went on a family holiday. My husband is originally from BC and I have family there, so we go every summer. We also attend the Edmonton Folk Music Festival every year, which I’m looking forward to.”

What message do you have for Alberta’s legal community?

I’m honoured to be in this role, and I hope to come in and keep up with the momentum Jennifer created. I feel that we’re moving out of the traditional mentality of knowledge is power and coming into a generation of knowledge sharing. How this knowledge is shared and applied is key, and I think LESA will play a big role in this shift moving forward. I’m looking forward to connecting with those in the legal profession who want to help advance innovative ideas, and I’m excited to make a real impact on the new world of lawyering.”

For more information, check out Maura’s LinkedIn profile, or read the press release here. We’re looking forward to having you join our team!

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Program Feature — Effective Legal Support: Civil Litigation

Effective Legal Support: Civil Litigation

About the Program

Effective legal support staff are key to a successful law practice! Examine the role of legal support staff in managing civil litigation matters. Review the civil litigation process, including pleadings, applications, questioning, costs, and trial preparation. Analyze relevant Rules of Court Parts and learn how they affect litigation matters.

When asked about the benefits and key takeaways of this program, chair Maureen McCartney-Cameron offered,

Attendees will receive an overview of civil litigation; pleadings; applications; questionings; and case management, costs, and Queens’ Bench Filings. They will also receive practical tips for providing effective assistance to civil litigators and hear from lawyers who will provide insight into how assistants can effectively provide help.

When asked what she was looking forward to most, Maureen added,

I’m looking forward to working with and learning from a great panel and audience.

Chair & Faculty

Join chair Maureen McCartney-Cameron and a panel of experienced practitioners to discover how to increase legal support staff effectiveness and efficiency.

Chair | Maureen McCartney-Cameron (JSS Barristers)

Maureen joined JSS Barristers and has focused her practice almost exclusively on plaintiff-side personal injury and long term disability litigation. In doing so, she has appeared as counsel before all levels of Court in Alberta. Maureen is the Immediate Past President of the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA), which advocates for a strong civil justice system that protects the rights of all Albertans. She is also Past Chair of the Personal Injury Subsection of the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta. In addition, she has served as a volunteer facilitator for the CPLED Program and is a presently a volunteer lawyer with Pro Bono Law Alberta.


Robert Armstrong QC | Calgary Police Service
Christy Elliott | Parkland Fuel Corporation
Erin Runnalls | Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP
Shane Sackman | Law Society of Alberta
Michael Sestito | Bennett Jones LLP
Wilma Shim | Alberta Justice and Solicitor General – Legal Services
Cassandra Sutter | Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes LLP



  • September 12, 2017
  • 9:00 AM–4:30 PM
  • Glenmore Inn & Convention Centre (2720 Glenmore Trail SE)
  • Early bird deadline: August 15, 2017


  • September 19, 2017
  • 9:00 AM–4:30 PM
  • Chateau Louis Hotel & Conference Centre (11727 Kingsway NW)
  • Early bird deadline: August 15, 2017


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Program Feature – Effective Legal Writing

Effective Legal Writing

Effective writing skills are critical for lawyers and their staff. Take part in an interactive workshop to improve your legal writing through hands-on practice and individual feedback.

For the first time, LESA will be holding this program in a flipped-classroom format. This format requires participants to view resource materials online in the LESA Classroom and complete pre-course work, including writing practice, prior to attending the program.


We recently chatted with LESA’s Dr. Allison Fieldberg to learn a bit more about the program and about the flipped-classroom format. Here’s what she had to say.


One of the goals of this program is for participants to begin to recognize their particular writing style and to identify the strengths of that style and the areas for growth. They will learn what they need to do to increase the clarity, concision, and effectiveness of their writing. Instead of a lecture on specific content, this program is more skills-based. Participants will learn how to revise their writing based on an end goal of producing writing that has greater overall effectiveness and persuasiveness.”


My philosophy of writing is that you do not become a better writer by talking about it, and you don’t learn to become a better writer by listening to someone talk to you about writing. You become a better writer by writing. It is a skill like learning to golf, paint, or bake. You have to practice it to get better and the flipped-classroom approach allows for program time to be very practice-based. Participants will review content areas and fundamental background information about writing ahead of the day so they can arrive on the day ready to practice the skills and get individualized feedback. There will be very limited time in the program where participants will listen to me talk about writing.”

Program Benefits

One of the immediate benefits is bringing to the forefront of your mind the particular characteristics of your writing that need to be improved. I think attendees will find that the program offers the opportunity to develop the skill of self-assessment. Attendees will take a look at a piece of their writing, and within a short period of time, they will be able to zero in on what needs to be fixed and what could be better.”

Program Takeaways

I think participants will be able to make some really great connections with other people in the room while demystifying the writing process. There will be an emphasis on collaboration, exchange, and peer revision and I think that’s the direction that the legal profession is going.”

Register Online

This program has limited enrolment. Register online today to attend Effective Legal Writing in Edmonton (September 15) or in Calgary (September 22). View the program brochure to learn more.