We are excited to announce that Arman Chak, a loyal LESA volunteer, is this year’s recipient of the National Canadian Bar Association – Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award! We chatted with Arman to give you a glimpse into who he is and what advice he would give to a newly called lawyer. Congratulations, Arman!
I am Legal Counsel for the Alberta Human Rights Commission; my practice is highly unique in that even though it is focused on Human Rights, this particular area of law intersects with so many other areas such as Administrative Law, Employment Law, Constitutional Law and Health Law. I have been practicing law since I was called in 2001.
I am very honoured to be chosen as this year’s recipient of the Canadian Bar Association Young Lawyers Pro Bono Award. This award recognizes outstanding pro bono publico (“for the public good”) legal services to the community by a Canadian lawyer who is younger than 40 years old, or who has been in practice for less than 10 years.
Please share with us a little bit about your background; your education, family, work?
As a backdrop I was born in Ontario, subsequently my family moved to Edmonton, Alberta when I was two years old. Our family composed of my parents and three brothers and a younger sister, which makes six. I am happy to say that we have added to that number three more spouses and two children. My wife Samra and I are blessed to have a beautiful daughter, Iman, who is currently an adventurous 6-year old.
My passion has always been Cinema and the Dramatic Arts; which is probably why I chose Sociology and Film Studies as my major subjects of interest. My focus in Sociology was always in the area of important social movements and criminology, which became reflected in the films that I have created (sometimes due to budget constraints starring in them myself!). While my skills and experience have improved over the years as a Lawyer and as a Filmmaker, my passion for Human Rights has always remained my priority.
I went from working in the area of Family Law and Child Welfare to the area of Human Rights in an almost seamless transition. The protection of the rights of Canadians is a hallmark of the Legal Profession, human rights is an extension of those principles.
You have been a loyal supporter of LESA. What makes you want to volunteer?
For me, the vision of equality and social justice means that you are always learning and improving the manner in which we resolve our differences. I look at volunteering as part of our Legal Tradition in that sharing the education, skills and experience that I have gained makes the legal profession and those that are involved in it (clients, opposing parties, self-represented) view the profession as noble and exceptional. Being a Volunteer makes you have to prepare, organize, think on your feet as well as execute a strategy, all great qualities for a Lawyer.
What advice would you pass on to a newly called lawyer?
Be a constant learner. Even though I had experience in litigation and a familiarity with provincial legislation, I have always maintained that having a constant learning aspect to your career keeps your career fresh all the time. While I was working, I constantly partake in LESA events (such as the New Rules of Court) to gain excellent practical skills, I, as well, take the time to do higher-level education in the Study of Law.
Specifically, when I received my LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School (specialization in Administrative Law), I learned a lot of theoretical legal strategies which I was able to implement in my day to day work. With constant education come the complementary feelings of humbleness and confidence. Both which are necessary to better represent your client and be able to understand how to implement logical persuasive tools in advocacy.
Do you have an experience while volunteering for LESA that is particularly memorable for you?
My most favourable experience for LESA was when I was asked to be one of the Face-to Face evaluators for LESA, it is great to be able to connect with the students and engage them on their understanding of the law and share with them my own experiences. Just the ability to discuss the mutual obstacles we all face makes the process dynamic for both the learner and the educator.