In January 2015, Kinji Bourchier (Class of ‘1999) became the UBC Law Alumni Association’s new president, replacing Rod Urquhart after his many years of service. Kinji is well known in the Vancouver legal community on at least two accounts. First, he is a prominent commercial and environmental litigator, practicing as a partner at Lawson Lundell LLP. Second, he is always impeccably dressed. It would be hard to identify another professional, let alone another lawyer in downtown Vancouver, who is as consistently dapper.
What is less well-known about Kinji is his modest, small-town background. Kinji was born in Terrace. His mother, who is of Japanese descent and was born in an internment camp, worked as a teacher in nearby Kitimat. His father worked in a pulp mill. After the birth of Kinji and his younger brother Takashi, the Bourchier family moved to Courtenay on Vancouver Island, where Kinji and Takashi were raised together with their black Labrador Retriever, Kye.
Growing up, Kinji held an assortment of challenging jobs. Between the ages of 12 and 19, Kinji worked every summer as a deckhand on a gillnetter operating on the Skeena River and based in Prince Rupert. Later, Kinji worked as an attendant at the local Mohawk gas station and attempted to run his own student landscaping business. Neither job lasted long. Kinji detested that Takashi, who had greater seniority, was his supervisor at the gas station. Kinji also turned out to have no clue how to run a landscaping business or even how to landscape. Still, those who know Kinji only as a debonair lawyer may find it very difficult to imagine Kinji working as a gas station attendant or landscaper for even a day.
Kinji eventually made his way to Vancouver for his undergraduate studies at UBC. Perhaps craving a less menial line of work, Kinji focussed on English and history, and initially aspired to be a professor. His burgeoning taste for expensive clothing (and food, and cars) eventually steered him towards law, which turned out to be the right choice for Kinji. He excelled and enjoyed it as well as the extra-curricular life at the law school, playing rugby for the Illegal Beavers. Since launching his legal career, Lawson Lundell is the only law firm Kinji has known. His relationship with the firm actually pre-dates his time in law school, as Kinji worked there as a historical researcher in 1996. He returned as a summer student in 1998, and as an articled student in 1999, always wanting to practice litigation. Since that time, he has worked with and had the mentorship of many great litigators, including Brian Wallace, Q.C. (Class of 1968), Ted Gouge, Q.C. (Class of 1977) Gordon Weatherill, Q.C. (Class of 1980) and Craig Ferris, Q.C. (Class of 1989).
At Lawson Lundell, Kinji has cultivated a reputation as a great mentor and partner. Associates describe him as calm, patient and kind, and as the “glue” for the office. His partners note that he plays a vital role in student recruiting and has developed a loyal following of clients, including Sleep Country Canada and Chevron. But Kinji may function much better as a partner than he did as an associate. Craig Ferris, Q.C. recalls having taken Kinji to a hearing in Victoria many years ago. It is a longstanding custom that the more junior of two litigators will carry most of the bags. Kinji could not perform even this most basic role, however. Having saddled himself with a very fashionable, but not very practical, shoulder bag and man-purse, Kinji was left trailing the senior Mr. Ferris, who had to carry most of the bags, by several blocks.
Today, Kinji lives in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood with his wife and fellow litigator, Laura Cundari, and their infant daughter, Celine. Outside of work and a busy family life, Kinji enjoys food, travel and playing soccer. He often pursues the latter two interests together, through participation in MUNDIAVOCAT, the Football World Cup for Lawyers, which has taken him so far to tournaments in Morocco, Malta, Hungary, Turkey, Spain and Croatia.