Kevin Westell For BencherOnline voting is open now until Tuesday, May 19, 5:00 pm.
This by-election is the result of the judicial appointment of Vancouver’s sole Bencher from the criminal defence bar. I aim to fill that void and if elected, I vow to contribute boldly to Law Society initiatives where the voice and experience of a criminal and regulatory lawyer is essential. Please read on to see why I deserve your vote.
Nominated for the 2020 Bencher By-Election by
Chris Johnson, Q.C.
Peck and Company
Why I'm Running For Bencher
Integrity | Competence | Vision | Dedication
I can think of no greater professional honor than the opportunity to serve the public and our bar as a Bencher.
I am passionate about improving the way we serve the public. Complaints against criminal lawyers are on the rise and, while they are being litigated, they negatively impact both the capacity of the court system and the ability of small firm and sole-practice lawyers to maintain high levels of client service. If elected, I would draw on my experience to provide a criminal law perspective to the sensitive nature of these types of allegations.
Further, and especially in light of the current COVID-19 Crisis, I want to see our Law Society step up and lead on technological and modernization measures that enhance the ability of lawyers to serve their clients. I also want to see the law society lead on access to justice issues including the continuing battle to strengthen our legal aid system in this province. Finally, I want to ensure that the public interest is served by a mentally healthy bar. If elected I will work tirelessly to ensure that the mental wellbeing of lawyers is increasingly supported by the necessary resources.
What I Bring To This Important Role
I am a founding partner at Pender Litigation where I practice criminal, regulatory and administrative law.
I am proud of the breadth of my litigation experience and I feel fortunate to have experienced our criminal justice system from all angles. I have conducted trials (including many jury trials) and appeals at every level in British Columbia. I have acted for accused persons, the Crown, the Court (as amicus curiae) and vulnerable witnesses as well. I have even been retained by the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department for special projects along the way.
I have also played leadership roles within several local professional associations. I’ve served as the president of the Advocates Club, the chair of the CBABC Vancouver Criminal Subsection, the Chair of the TLABC Criminal Committee and as Vancouver’s Regional Representative for the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society.
I have taught on advocacy skills, ethical issues, criminal law and litigation topics in many different venues. I’ve co-chaired two criminal law conferences for the CLEBC and instructed at several other programs including the CBA National Criminal Law Conference, the CLEBC Winning Advocacy Skills Workshop, Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop in Toronto and the Allan McEachern Course in Trial Advocacy at Allard Hall (UBC Law).
Some Issues I Will Champion
Fighting For Legal Aid
We must foster the continued improvement of our system of legal aid. Without proper funding, the criminal, family and immigration lawyers who make up our legal aid bar cannot provide our most vulnerable citizens with the quality of legal service they need and deserve. As Bencher, I would continue to support the work of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers to ensure that government addresses the barriers of the current legal aid system.
Keeping Our Profession Strong
Benchers are called upon to provide confidential advice to members of the bar in relation to matters involving professional conduct and the practice of law. The calls for advice are typically urgent and made in circumstances where the stakes are highest for the lawyer and, most importantly, that lawyer’s client.
I don’t believe it is enough to simply have good judgment. A bencher must possess a well of experience gained from years in the trenches of practice. Lessons learned from successes and failures on the legal battlefield is the prerequisite. I am confident that I have met those prerequisites and that I am ready to serve.
Leading On Modernization
The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the stark need for modernization in our courts and practice capabilities. Despite the valiant efforts of stakeholders to mitigate its impact, the pandemic has brought our justice system to a grinding halt. If elected, I will champion technological and systemic innovations so that the rule of law and access to justice is permanently improved. The Law Society must lead on this front and as your Bencher I will ensure that it does.
Supporting The Next Generation
I believe that we all have obligation to ensure that the next generation of litigators get the mentorship and guidance they need to serve the public properly and proudly.
I pride myself on the energy I have put in to assisting the most inexperienced among us in a way that empowers them to improve and grow confident in the practice of law. Mentoring new and soon-to-be members of our bar is always rewarding. It’s my view that the law society must continue to foster this approach to mentorship across our bar. As Bencher I will ensure that it does.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Lawyers have stressful lives. Our work comes with pressure from clients and the Court and our work can interfere with our obligations at home and to our loved ones. This stress can lead to or exacerbate serious mental wellness issues. The public is best served by a mentally healthy bar. In the Lawyers Assistance Program our province has an excellent wellness resource for lawyers. But we need to do more as a Law Society to ensure that mental health is destigmatized so that lawyers feel free to access resources before they lead to a breakdown or crisis. If elected, I will tirelessly fight for measures aimed at enhancing mental wellness within our bar.
Currently, of the 12 Vancouver County Benchers, there is no representation from the criminal bar. As a result, in my view, it is extremely important that we have a criminal lawyer elected to fill this vacancy. I believe that Kevin is the candidate we should support.
Kevin has demonstrated a long and deep commitment to legal education and to the improvement of the Bar itself. Through his impressive body of work with the CBA, the TLABC, C-DAS, CLEBC and the Advocate’s Society, Kevin has made an ongoing and significant contribution to our Profession. I urge you to take the time to vote, and to join me in voting for Kevin for this position.
I have known Kevin Westell for almost 20 years and worked with him on several occasions. He is a highly principled and hard-working lawyer with an excellent reputation in the bar. In my view, Kevin is the right person to deal with the myriad of issues that our profession is currently facing. As a result I wholeheartedly support Kevin Westell for Bencher.
Kevin has my support and endorsement. I represent lawyers who often run afoul of the law society. We need benchers who understand due process and procedural fairness. He has all of the qualifications to be an excellent bencher.
I am supporting Kevin Westell as Mr. Westell has been working in our sector his whole career, he is bright and committed and we are in need of a member of the Criminal Defence Bar to speak up for our clients. Criminal Defence Counsel are often the conscience of the Profession and Mr. Westell will be that.
Kevin’s curriculum vitae is impressive to be sure – as are those of other candidates. But what sets Kevin apart is that he has already been trained up in the role of Bencher informally.
Frankly, we should jump at this opportunity to formalize it; there is no doubt all stakeholders in the legal community will benefit if Kevin is elected. I hope you will join me in voting to make it happen.
One of my colleagues and mentors (as well as good friend), Kevin Westell, is running for Bencher in the upcoming by-election. I’ve worked with Kevin since I started out as a lawyer and he exemplifies the values and ideals of this profession, from participating in countless committees, providing advice to other lawyers at all hours, and vigorously representing his clients’ interests. I am supporting Kevin for Bencher and encourage you to do the same.
It is extremely important that we have a criminal lawyer elected for the County of Vancouver. I recognize that there are other criminal lawyers in this election, but I view it as important that we coalesce around one candidate. Kevin Westell is that candidate.
He is experienced, approachable, and has attracted a diverse group of people to support his candidacy. I urge you to join in voting for Kevin for this position, so that we can ensure that our interests are well served.
I am very happy you are running in the bencher election. You have the qualities we need in our benchers: experience, good judgment and a dedication to our profession as shown by your extensive record of service to the legal community.
Kevin is an experienced, intelligent, ethical, and reasoned barrister. He is very involved in the legal community, and volunteers his time extensively. He has the background that we need in our benchers.
He knows what it means to be collegial, ethical, and understands the difficult issues we often face in our profession. It is important to keep in mind the essential purpose of a bencher – and Kevin amply fulfills the criteria.
Kevin is the bencher we need. He cares about ensuring that the legal profession is responsive to access in justice issues and, in particular, those that have been caused or worsened by the pandemic. He supports changes to technology and the applicable court rules that will finally bring our justice into the 21st century. He sees the shared interest between the public and our bar in making sure that there are mental health resources to support lawyer wellness. He is also someone who knows that the public is best served by an increasingly diverse and multi-cultural bar.
If elected, I am confident that he will make the bar proud and protect the public interest as all benchers must do. I hope that you’ll consider casting your vote in his favour.
I worked for Kevin back in my 2L summer and he has been a great mentor throughout our relationship. I have called Kevin numerous times about legal and practice management issues and Kevin has always been there with advice and support. As challenging as practicing law and running a practice can be for a young lawyer, having someone like Kevin to lean on is an amazing asset.
How To Vote Westell For Bencher
Online voting will take place from Tuesday, May 5 until 5:00 pm on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and votes will be counted on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.