A conversation with Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C.

By CBA/ABC National Summer 2017

A conversation with Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C.

Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C. was a high school student working part time at a small-town law firm when one of the partners was elected president of the CBA-BC branch. J. Parker MacCarthy went on to become the CBA national president. And that left an impression.

“I just watched what he did,” she says. “This was part of being a lawyer – which I knew I wanted to do. As a lawyer, you were part of the CBA and there was an opportunity for leadership in your professional association. I thought I’d like to do that one day.”

Simmons, a partner at Cook Roberts LLP in Victoria, followed in her mentor’s footsteps, serving as president of the BC branch in 2012-13. And on Sept. 1, she takes office as CBA’s next president. National spoke with her about her commitment to public service, the role of the CBA and life outside law.

On public service

That’s just how I was raised. My parents were part of the team that organized the annual Terry Fox run. My mother taught Sunday school, my father was chair of the principals and vice-principals association. That’s what we did. You help other people.

On why the CBA matters

I see the results and the benefit of when people are working together in a credible way. That’s what the CBA does. I believe that if you want to do things that are bigger than your own little footprint, you have to join together. That’s the only way I know how to change things.

On the power of a collective voice

It comes back to credibility, strength in numbers, social responsibility. I believe lawyers have to speak out for the betterment of their fellow members of society. We have to use all of our skills to help our society make sense of what’s going on.

On public legal education

I’m so proud if I’m driving home and one of my fellow lawyers is on the radio explaining something that has happened in the news. That’s also our role – to be educators. It’s why I think Law Day is still important for the CBA to do because it’s one of the bigger public education outreaches we do.

On access to justice

One of my favourite things to do is talk to University of Victoria [law] students. It’s a chance for me to connect the theoretical to the everyday. I try to tell them a bit from the client’s perspective – that it’s frustrating or disappointing and costs more money [if a case is bumped because there’s no judge or courtroom available]. Or if I feel it’s not fair they’ve been bumped, it’s going to cost me money because I’m not going to charge them. And often I don’t charge them to prepare again because I just don’t think it is right.

That’s what it means to be a lawyer. It’s not about charging for every single hour of your day. You need to make judgment calls about what’s the right thing to do.

Her goals as president

Having our new governance structure in place and working well. Getting more people engaged with the association. The more stories I can tell lawyers about what the CBA can offer them, I think they’ll be excited about becoming or remaining members.

Life outside law

I’m fortunate to have a sister and many friends with little kids – and I love children. Most of the time, I’m planning children’s parties. We do crafting, baking, gardening. It keeps me grounded and makes me feel so much better.

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Comments
Barbara Murchie 6/21/2017 2:37:34 PM

Kerry - Thanks for your commitment to the CBA and the legal profession. I'm sure I'm not alone in appreciating your prior and upcoming contribution.

Barb



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