How much do you know about our hard working Law Alumni Association Board Members? In an effort to learn more, each month a board member will interview a fellow board member for our website and newsletter. This month, Secretary Nic Tsoi (Class of ’06) profiles board member and past president Rodney Urquhart (Class of ’85).
Rodney, or “Rod”, was born in Vancouver and grew up in Richmond. He attended Steveston High School and enjoyed playing soccer and music. During high school, Rod worked as a lifeguard and taught swimming. When Rod told me about his lifeguard days, I found my mind wandering to thoughts of the classic 1980’s coming-of-age movies and wondering about what misadventures he got himself into. Being an upstanding member of the Bar and recognizing his duty to his good friends, Rod disclosed no details.
Teaching and mentorship would continue to be a trend in Rod’s life. In 1982, he received his Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. The original goal was to become a teacher in an elementary school but this would not come to pass.
During the third year of his Bachelor of Education program, the prospect of a legal education became a possibility in Rod’s life almost entirely by accident. A friend of Rod’s wanted to become a lawyer and was planning to write the Law School Admissions Test. With some free time on his hands, Rod asked his friend if there was any studying involved. His friend handed him the practice book and, with about two week’ notice, Rod began preparing. He must have done well enough as he soon found himself in first year of law school at UBC.
In law school Rod played for the school’s “Gumby” soccer club. According to Rod, the team was definitely of the lower-tier variety.
In 1985, Rod graduated from UBC with his law degree. He immediately went into his articles, working at a small litigation boutique firm known as Doust and Smith, founded by Leonard T. Doust Q.C. and the Honourable Mr. Kenneth J. Smith. From there, Rod joined Shrum Liddle & Hebenton which then merged with other firms in the late 1980’s to become McCarthy Tétrault.
Rod became a partner at McCarthy Tétrault and while practicing there, met and became a close colleague of Gregory K. Steele, QC. The two of them would eventually join forces in 1995 and founded the firm of Steele Urquhart, practicing together for nearly 20 years.
In 2014, Steele Urquhart joined with EKB (Edwards Kenny & Bray). Within a short time, Rod found himself once again in a leading role, acting as Co-Managing Partner at EKB.
Throughout his career, Rod has found some of his most rewarding experiences to involve cases where he can help his clients out of bad situations into good or in Rod’s words, “at least palatable” ones. Another aspect of his practice that Rod has enjoyed greatly, drawing on his early goals of teaching, is the opportunity to work with and mentor young lawyers. He believes that young lawyers are much smarter than him and help him greatly in his daily practice. In fact, Rod’s mentorship goes beyond his practice. In the mid-2000’s, Rod joined the law school’s Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. In 2009, Rod became the Board’s president. From 2009 to 2015, Rod sat as President and built on the great work of his predecessors Peter Brown and Mr. Justice Jon Sigurdson.
In 2015, Rod stepped down from his role as President of the Allard School of Law Alumni Association. He continues to sit on the Board of Directors of the Association, serving the Allard School of Law alumni community as the Past President. Currently, and this should come as no surprise at this point of the article, Rod continues his mentorship role by advising the current Board of Directors as it heads into a new era.