Law Society ushers in new president, Art Vertlieb, QC

Art Vertlieb, QC and wife Bev BriscoeAs of January 1, 2013, Art Vertlieb, QC will take the reins as president of the Law Society of BC, capping off many years of dedicated service to the organization.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that is done by the Law Society, Benchers and the profession as a whole,” he explained recently. “It is a privilege to be able to serve as president.”

Vertlieb came to Vancouver by way of Hamilton, Ontario, where he was born, and Tucson, Arizona, where he moved with his family at the age of 13. The next eight years proved to be life-changing for him as he completed high school and then an undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona.

“I loved the energy of the US and the ambition of the people around me,” recalled Vertlieb, “and it had a dramatic impact on my life.” While in university, he campaigned and was elected student body vice-president and was very active in campus life, including touring with the football team as a student representative.

However, it was tragic events that brought him back to Canada. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, whom Vertlieb had heard speak in person, were a shock. “The violence stunned me,” he said.

Vertlieb returned to Canada to attend law school at Osgoode Hall. Asked why he decided to become a lawyer, he was quick to answer “Perry ­Mason,” referring to the fictional lawyer of the television show of the same name. “He was brilliant and led an exciting life and it seemed amazing to me that he could represent and fight for people with such ­success.”

Vertlieb has certainly brought that Perry Mason zeal to his practice and the Law Society. As a partner with Vertlieb Dosanjh in Vancouver, his focus in on personal injury law, medical negligence, professional disputes and criminal law.

Elected a Bencher in 2004, Vertlieb has a long history of committee work with the Law Society and is currently chair of the Finance Committee. He will move from vice-chair to chair of the Executive Committee in the new year, and he is also ­vice-chair of the Governance Review Task Force as well as a member of the Appointments ­Subcommittee and Litigation ­Subcommittee.

Outside the Law Society, he recently capped a 10-year stint as a governor of the American Association of Justice and is an elected fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Yukon Law Society Discipline Committee.

He is also a former president and founding vice-president of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and a former chair and founding member of the Lawyers Assistance Program of BC.

Vertlieb’s passion has long been with the issue of access to justice, and he intends to make that the focus of his term as president.

“I have spent more time on access issues than any other at the Law Society,” said Vertlieb. “It’s a big issue, obviously, and I want to see the Law Society continue the fine work that has been done to increase the availability of affordable legal services.”

Vertlieb has played a pivotal role in recent enhancements to the scope of duties that can be performed by paralegals and articled students. In fact, he chaired the very first Law Society task force that considered this issue years ago.

In addition to his inspiring youth, Vertlieb is quick to credit his family for his success. His wife, well-known corporate and public director Bev Briscoe, is an intelligent and highly qualified sounding board for Vertlieb. Their sons, Dan, Mike and Dave, round out the package.