Bruce LeRose, QC: First president from County of Kootenay

Bruce LeRose, QCIn January, Bruce LeRose, QC will become the first president to come from the County of Kootenay in the Law Society’s 127 year history.

The 54-year-old was born and raised in the small interior city of Trail in the south central part of the province. He, his twin brother and their two older brothers learned perseverance and hard work at the family-owned businesses, the Terra Nova hotel and the Colander restaurant.

Rather than following in his parent’s footsteps in the hospitality business, LeRose decided to become a lawyer because he liked the idea of helping people solve their problems. LeRose eventually ­attended UBC, where he first earned his BA and then, in 1982, his law degree. He was called to the Bar and joined Thompson, LeRose and Brown (formerly Geronazzo and Thompson), a full-service general practice firm with three offices in the West Kootenays. LeRose was elected a Bencher in 2004 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2006. He lives with his partner, Melanie, and has two grown sons, Nicholas and Alex.

“I’m extremely proud to be the first president from the Kootenay region,” LeRose said in an interview with the Benchers’ Bulletin. “Lawyers in the Kootenays have a long history of volunteerism and making contributions to both the Law Society and to the Canadian Bar Association, and now, with technology, we’re capable of stepping up to the highest positions in the legal profession.”

A year as president will certainly mean more time away from home and his offices, but LeRose is very proud of the fact that he has a wonderful group of co-workers in his offices that are committed to picking up the slack and supporting his presidency. “I am very grateful for all of the support I have received over the years as Bencher from Melanie and all the great people at Thompson, LeRose & Brown. I could not have achieved this goal without them.”

Priorities for 2012

Since becoming a Bencher in 2004, LeRose has been active in programs and initiatives to support the work of small law firms. More than half of all lawyers in BC operate in a small practice setting, with no more than four lawyers in the firm.

When he became second vice-president in 2009 he said at the time that ­supporting lawyers in small firms would be a priority when he ascended to the role of president. LeRose explains that, while that is still a priority, the Society’s focus has broadened to enhancing the public’s access to legal services, including those provided in rural areas. One of the solutions in which the Law Society is now involved is helping to fund an initiative to attract more lawyers to rural areas. “Overall, the primary focus this year was to develop programs designed to promote access to legal services and, under the leadership of President Gavin Hume, QC, we’ve made huge strides in that area. I want to help build on that success,” he explained. “Public access is an issue that’s going to continue to be in the forefront for many years.

There are two elements of the Law Society’s strategic plan that LeRose plans to see through as president. The first is a comprehensive review of Law Society governance, and he will chair the task force responsible for it. The Benchers have ­identified a governance review as being important to the Law Society’s evolution in its commitment to transparency and protecting the public interest. “This review will reflect the Law Society of British Columbia’s continued desire to improve our self-governance model and preserve the independence of the Bar,” said LeRose. “We really haven’t had a comprehensive governance review since 1991, and a lot has changed in the past 20 years.”

LeRose’s other priority is to build relationships with stakeholders by making himself available for speaking engagements to explain the work of the Law Society. “There’s a vast array of activities that the Law Society is involved in to protect the public interest beyond the disciplining of lawyers, and I want to talk about that.”

LeRose’s one-year term as president begins January 1, 2012. 

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