The Law Society Award for Leadership in Legal Aid recognizes lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the provision of legal aid in British Columbia.

Award criteria

Practising lawyers in good standing with the Law Society of BC, with the exception of current Law Society Benchers, committee members and employees, or employees of Legal Services Society or its board members, are eligible for the award.

Nominees must demonstrate their commitment to the provision of legal aid in one or more of the following ways:

by consistently taking on legal aid files over a number of years; and

by performing legal aid duty counsel.

Additional consideration may be given to lawyers who publicly demonstrate a commitment to legal aid, whether through public advocacy, writing articles or performing research designed to support a strong legal aid system, engaging in law reform to improve the state of legal aid, or participating in the governance of Legal Services Society.

How to submit a nomination

A Law Society member in good standing may nominate a practising lawyer for the award. This award was initiated in 2017 and is presented in December, every other year.

To submit a nomination, send the nominee’s curriculum vitae and a letter explaining how the nominee meets the award criteria set out above. Nominations may be submitted by email, mail or courier, or in person.

Submit nominations to:

The Law Society of British Columbia
845 Cambie Street
Vancouver BC, V6B 4Z9

Further information

For further information about the award, contact:

Doug Munro, Staff Lawyer, Policy and Legal Services

2017 Recipient

The Law Society is pleased to award Richard Strahl the 2017 Law Society Award for Leadership in Legal Aid. Strahl was called to the BC bar in 1988 and practises criminal defense in the East Kootenay. He has consistently taken on legal aid files for nearly 30 years, and has appeared throughout the Kootenay region, not only on behalf of legal aid clients but also acting pro bono for people challenged by the court process.

Strahl was the Kootenay legal agent for the Legal Services Society from 2002 to 2016, and continues to routinely accept legal aid retainers and perform duty counsel services.

In addition to a life-long commitment to helping those in need of legal counsel, Strahl is known among his colleagues for generously making himself available as a mentor and source of advice for junior counsel. He is widely respected by members of the bench, Crown, defense counsel and community support agencies.

“This award recognizes the often overlooked efforts of all members of the criminal bar who do so much for those who struggle through the court process,” said Strahl.

“Rick is known throughout the Kootenay region as ethical, diligent and an excellent advocate for his clients. Judges appreciate the advice he provides to the court as well as to those in need. Lawyers know him not only as a tireless advocate, but also as a friendly and affable individual with a certain charm that makes him one of those people everyone likes,” said Sarah Westwood chair of the Law Society Award for Leadership in Legal Aid Selection Committee.