Effective August 15, 2017, Maura 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.
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.”