Mentoring Scheme

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Mentoring Scheme for Deaf law students at whatever stage of the legal profession they find themselves in: starting out with a LLB or Graduate Diploma in Law, having completed the Legal Practice Course, or searching for a training contract.

About mentoring

For a Deaf law student mentoring can be defined as a one to one relationship in which an individual experienced in the profession (the mentor) offers their experience to support and encourage the other (the mentee) to enter and progress in the profession of a solicitor or barrister.

The relationship will often develop at a period of transition for the mentee, for instance during progression from one academic course to another, from an academic course to a training contract and so on.

The role of the mentor

A mentor will be able to teach the “tricks of the trade” which they have learnt through practical experience. Advice can be given on areas of practice, CVs, application forms, application strategy, interview preparation and career progression.

A mentor can in effect act as a role model for students, learning how a Deaf lawyer copes with the problems of day to day practice can give reassurance, instil confidence and can provide practical guidance whilst providing the student with a confident, informal peer, counsellor and sounding board.

Applying for a mentor

If you are a Deaf law student and you feel that you would benefit from a mentor please complete the enquiry form here.

Henry Vlug Q.C.

Henry Vlug, a Deaf Lawyer in British Columbia, Canada has been appointed a Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.) by the British Columbia Bar. He is possibly the first Deaf lawyer in Canada, if not internationally to be bestowed Q.C. status and to take silk.

Congratulations, Mr. Vlug Q.C.

Below is a Press Release announcing his appointment, amongst other appointees.


For Immediate Release


Dec. 17, 2004
Ministry of Attorney General


VICTORIA Thirty distinguished British Columbia lawyers have been appointed Queen’s Counsel.

The QC designation is an honour conferred on outstanding members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and contribution. Appointments require that nominees demonstrate professional integrity and good character, and be a member of the British Columbia bar for at least five years.

Each September the attorney general calls for Queen’s Counsel nominations. Nominations can be submitted from any person who wants to recommend a nominee. Deadline for submissions was Nov. 1, 2004. All applications are reviewed by an advisory committee, which recommends deserving candidates to the attorney general. The appointments are made by cabinet.

The committee includes the chief justice of British Columbia, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the chief judge of the provincial court, the president of the Law Society of British Columbia, a member of the Law Society appointed by the benchers (directors), and the deputy attorney general. The president of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association is also included in the process.



Mark D. Andrews is the leader of the commercial litigation practice group of Fasken Martineau’s Vancouver office. He has acted as counsel in the supreme and appeal courts of British Columbia, and appeared in the Tax, Federal and Supreme Court of Canada.

Robert C. Brun focuses his Vancouver practice on civil litigation, primarily in the insurance field. He takes an active teaching role through Open College, Continuing Legal Education and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Last year, he was the president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

Elisabeth A. Burgess has made a significant contribution through her career as both a crown counsel for the province, and later as the director Special Justice Programs. Currently, she is the executive director of the Criminal Justice Reform Office of Ministry of Attorney General in Vancouver.

D. Ross Clark of Vancouver has practised for over 30 years. He specializes in litigation, personal injury and environmental law, and has considerable expertise in the area of professional negligence. He served with the International Society of Barristers and Skilex, an organization that arranges international conferences of judges and lawyers.

Brian Coleman has practised criminal law for over 30 years. He has shared his knowledge and expertise with secondary students and articling students throughout the years. In his capacity as the chair and founding board member of the drug rehabilitation society CONNECTIONS, he has worked with the City of Vancouver and the provincial government.

Wendy Elizabeth Dawson has contributed 20 years as a Crown counsel for the Ministry of Attorney General. During that time, she has specialized in prosecutions for violent offences, and has become a valuable resource on dangerous offender prosecutions. She has shared her knowledge formally and informally with students, the police and other organizations in Vancouver.

William F. Dickson is a partner with Vancouver’s Lawson Lundell, focusing on corporate and commercial law, particularly securities, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions. Admitted to the B.C. Bar in 1968, he is a past member of the board of the Continuing Legal Education Society and a past member of the Council of the B.C. Branch, Canadian Bar Association.

Robin M. Elliot is one of the top constitutional lawyers in Canada. He has served as executive legal officer of the Supreme Court of Canada, and as professor and associate dean at the University of British Columbia Law School, and has been actively involved in a variety of legal societies and associations.

David C. Harris specializes in commercial and product liability litigation. In addition to his Vancouver practice, he regularly instructs at continuing legal education courses, and volunteers in the community.

John Wellesly Hogg is a 25-year veteran of the Office of the Legislative Counsel. He has been responsible for drafting legislation in many areas including natural resources, gaming, financial institutions, tax and Crown corporations. In addition, he has been active in the Victoria community through his support of cultural and educational institutions.

Richard Henry Jensen has focused his Kamloops practice primarily on commercial and corporate law, and has been a key leader and participant in fundraising for child-related charities and sports and recreational activities. In 2003, Mr. Jensen was presented with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal.

Clarence Burton (Cal) Johnson is a Vancouver lawyer and partner in Fasken Martineau specializing in electric and natural gas energy related issues. He has experience in litigation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution.

Jeffrey J. Kay has practised law for almost 25 years, primarily in the fields of family law and commercial litigation. He also has an extensive immigration practice. He has appeared as counsel before immigration tribunals, prepared numerous applications for landed immigrant status, and intra-corporate transfer and work permits for applicants resident in the USA and elsewhere around the world.

William Knutson is a civil and insurance litigator with experience in mediation and commercial arbitration. He has been active as a lecturer with the Continuing Legal Education Society and through the University of British Columbia.

Derek LaCroix practised law for almost 20 years before becoming the executive director of the Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia, a Vancouver-based confidential support service for lawyers, their families and support staff. He has been active with the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs Western Recovery Foundation, and has contributed articles to the Advocate on lawyer wellness.

Bruce Austin Laughton has an extensive Vancouver labour, administrative and employee benefit practice, and has been recognized as a leader in the areas of labour and employment law. He has been active in the Canadian Bar Associations labour law sub-section, and has been a member of the Labour Relations Board Practice and Procedures Committee.

James M. Lepp has an extensive Vancouver civil litigation and appellate practice, and has represented clients in a variety of forums including the Labour Relations Board, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Human Rights Commission and all levels of court.

Dinyar Marzban practises primarily in the area of family law where he is recognized as a leading authority. He is a partner in the firm of Jenkins, Marzban Logan of Vancouver and is an editor of the Family Law Sourcebook for British Columbia; Annotated Guidelines and Family Practice, published by the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C.

James Kenneth McEwan practises as general counsel in both civil and criminal litigation in Vancouver. He is recognized as a leading practitioner in the area of class action lawsuits, and has extensive experience in securities, corporate commercial and product liability litigation.

D. Paul Nixon has practised for almost 30 years. A specialization in the areas of corporate and commercial law has contributed significantly to economic development in the Vernon area. He actively participates in the Vernon Business Forum, and works to raise funds for children with developmental concerns.

Darrell John O’Byrne, has practised law for 24 years. He was Crown counsel for Ministry of Attorney General for two years in Terrace before going into private practice in Prince Rupert. He has volunteered extensively with the B.C. Law Society, the Legal Services Society and the Lawyer’s Assistance Program.

Vincent Orchard has almost 30 years experience in the area of civil litigation with an emphasis on insurance, personal injury, negligence, and tort and product liability. He has frequently participated at legal education seminars, and has maintained active participation in many professional organizations in Vancouver.

Henry Jeffrey (Hank) Reiner has practised law in Vancouver for over 25 years. He has been a Crown counsel in Vancouver for 17 years, and leads prosecutions on serious and violent offences. He is one of the directors of the B.C. Crown Counsel Association.

Donald H. Risk, concentrates his Vancouver practice on corporate and commercial law. He has served on the board and as chair for the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C., the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, and the Science World Foundation.

Kenneth Julius Sarnecki has practised civil and criminal litigation for over 20 years. He brought several years experience as an RCMP officer to his law career. His public service and dedication to his colleagues is demonstrated by his participation and leadership in the Canadian Bar Association. He has also been active in the Kelowna community and local charities.

Grant C. Taylor has practised criminal, family and personal injury law for 30 years. In addition to his trial experience, he is a qualified mediator and has brought this expertise to both personal injury and family law matters. He is currently a bencher of the Law Society of B.C.

Henry Vlug has made significant contributions to the deaf community in Vancouver. In addition to providing expertise on criminal, family and estate law, he has acted as a consultant and special ombudsman officer to the Office of the Attorney General during the Jericho Hill School investigation.

Peter George Voith is a commercial litigator focusing his Vancouver practice on land use litigation, acting for major resource companies in western Canada. He has served as director of the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, and has been a member of the ethics committee of the Law Society of B.C. for the last six years.

Mary Anne Waldron is a Professor of Law and associate vice-president of legal affairs at the University of Victoria. She has taught for 28 years, and has served on every major faculty committee and most university committees.

Paul Wylie Walker focuses his Vancouver practice on civil litigation, with a particular emphasis on professional malpractice related to health law, product liability, class action litigation and all aspects of insurance coverage and commercial litigation.


Kelly Harris
Public Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Attorney General
250 387-1253
cell 250 361-8349

Visit the Province’s website at for online information and services.

Michael Schwartz

The following article appeared in the Belfast Telegraph. It relates to a Deaf law professor in the US.

Deaf Talkabout: A man who can challenge himself

By Bob McCullough
07 January 2005

“The new law professor uses big gestures and an animated face. His background as an actor enlivens his lectures at Syracuse University’s College of Law. You almost don’t need to hear him to understand his message”.

The front-page story in the Syracuse Post Standard, the local newspaper of the university in New York, is about my friend Michael Schwartz, the first deaf faculty member hired at SU’s law school. There are estimated to be between 120 and 180 deaf or hard of hearing lawyers practising in the USA, but only two work as professors in law schools.

Evelyn and I got to know Mike well when we were invited to meet his family and join them in a memorable Passover meal with during a visit to Gallaudet University in Washington many years ago.

He is a frequent visitor to our province and tells me he has a love affair with Ireland and would love to settle here if the opportunity arose. He was a guest speaker at Queen’s last summer and was in raptures when we took him out for dinner at a local pub.

Mike was born deaf and had the good fortune of a supportive family, money for tutors and special help, parents who instilled a thirst for books and education, a desire and an opportunity for travel.

After an early oral education, Mike gained a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in theatre, a law degree from New York University and a master’s from Columbia University. He is also finishing his doctoral dissertation in education under the title: Deaf Patients in the Medical Setting.

But none of this is evident when you meet Michael. He has a positive, happy, exuberant personality and an almost uncanny ability to communicate with nearly anyone he meets. His law school friends remember him as such a well rounded individual ? ‘someone who has always challenged himself, whether it be his career or his life outside the classroom’.

He swims five mornings a week and cycles to campus. His reading is mostly non-fiction, biographies and political science and he once told me with conviction that he hates Bush.

At one time he wanted to be an airline pilot but settled for a private pilot’s licence, which allows him to fly single-engine aircraft under visual flight rules.

His late father, a college professor, had a zest for life and was not willing to let him settle for anything else. His mother felt the same way and as Mike was growing up they took him everywhere; the theatre, museums, movies, bookstores and Europe. He was fascinated with French mime Marcel Marceau and watched him perform 75 times.

With this oral background, it was some time before he came to accept his own deafness and it was not until he joined the National Theatre of the Deaf at age 23 that he became comfortable with the language of sign and feels this has helped him to grow as a person.

Mike is married to Trisha, a hearing teacher of the deaf working as an interpreter. In 1999 they travelled to Vietnam to adopt Brianna when she was three months old. The beautiful baby is now five and the delight of their lives.

For all his success, Mike is cynical about the ability of society to change. In 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect, he tells his class, the unemployment rate for the disabled was 66%. Today, 14 years later, it’s 66%. “What does that tell you?” he asks the students.