The Lay Benchers

benchersIn addition to Patrick Kelly, the Law Society has five other Lay Benchers.

Ken Dobell has served as a Lay Bencher since 2006. He is currently vice-chair of the Complainants’ Review Committee and a member of the Discipline Committee.

Dobell comes to the role of Lay Bencher with an impressive record of service. He is a director of VANOC and 2010 Legacies Now, and is a former director of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. He served as the deputy minister to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary (2001- 2005), and remains a special advisor to the Premier on a contract basis. From 1999 to 2001 he was CEO of the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority.

Dobell has received a number of awards, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service, the Municipal Officers of BC Professional Award and the BC Human Resources Management Association Award of Excellence.

Barbara Levesque was appointed a Lay Bencher in 2006. She is a member of the Credentials Committee, the Unauthorized Practice Committee and the Access to Justice Committee.

Levesque is the executive director of the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan/Kootenay area, where she works to prevent crime and promote involvement in the justice system. She also works as a consultant with InContext Consulting and Research in Vernon. She has been actively involved in the community for many years, working with non-profit agencies and all levels of government — municipal, provincial, federal and First Nations. She has considerable experience with building community capacity for civic engagement, including work with the Premier’s Congress on Aging and Senior’s Issues, the Social Economy and Social Enterprise BC Regional Forums and the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.

June Preston was first appointed a Lay Bencher of the Law Society in 2001. She is currently a member of the Access to Justice Committee, the Independence and Self-Governance Committee, the Practice Standards Committee, the Women in the Legal Profession Task Force and the Financial Planning Subcommittee.

Preston graduated with a Master of Social Work from the University of Calgary. She recently retired as the director of family education services for the Vancouver Island Health Authority in Victoria. In 2002, Preston received an international award for her work with adoptive families and she has been recognized by her profession as Social Worker of the Year. She has served a wide range of other community organizations, including as secretary-treasurer and founding member of the BC Adoption Network, as past vice-president of the Adoption Council of Canada and as a board member of the BC Council for Families.

Dr. Maelor Vallance has served the Law Society as a Lay Bencher since 2002. He is currently chair of the Complainants’ Review Committee and a member of the Discipline Committee, Lawyer Education Committee and Family Law Task Force.

Vallance, supervisor of the psychiatric outpatient department at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, is also a clinical professor emeritus with the UBC faculty of medicine. Prior to his current position, Vallance operated his own private practice in general and forensic psychiatry and he was the clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. He has frequently appeared as an expert witness in court cases.

The Law Society would like to recognize the dedicated service of Lay Bencher Michael Falkins, who passed away this April after a long battle with cancer. Mike was appointed Lay Bencher in 2002.

Appointment of Lay Benchers

Lay Benchers are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (provincial Cabinet) following a merit-based selection process by the Board Resourcing and Development Office. There are more than 300 authorities, commissions, corporations and other organizations to which the government makes appointments. These positions are advertised on the BRDO’s website and the public are invited to apply.

The BRDO asks organizations to which it makes appointments to provide a list of the specific skills or attributes needed for the position. The Law Society, however, has been very careful to avoid participating in the selection of Lay Benchers so that the public can have full confidence that Lay Benchers bring a truly independent voice to the table. Because of this “hands off” approach, the Law Society does not provide BRDO with specific selection criteria but instead relies upon the general selection criteria BRDO uses for all appointments.

Lay Benchers are appointed for terms of two years, that run parallel to the terms of elected Benchers. They may serve up to four full or partial terms, after which they are designated as Life Benchers in the same way that an elected Bencher becomes a Life Bencher.