From time to time, in each of our lives, someone enters and makes an indelible mark upon us. I’ve written here previously about some of those who have left marks on my life and influenced my career choices; another such person is Allan Fineblit, Q.C.
Allan is the outgoing CEO of The Law Society of Manitoba. He’s been the CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba (“LSM”) for some 16 years, through most of my years at the bar.
When I worked at the LSM, he was my boss. Nearly annually, I would sit down with him for a little chat about what else I might do at the Society. He always was ready with a creative idea for a new challenge to stem my growing boredom. Since I left the LSM to pursue other opportunities, he’s often joked that he was disappointed in my choice, as it damaged his record of successful long-term hires.
Allan has also left a significant mark on the legal profession in Manitoba, and throughout Canada. He leaves “big shoes” to fill at the LSM.
Allan’s style of leadership draws heavily upon his folksy charm. He is approachable and accessible, as demonstrated in his regular column in the Law Society’s Communiqué, Allan’s Odds & Ends, but he is equally comfortable in wielding the authority that comes with his position. When I worked at the LSM, I didn’t always agree with Allan’s decisions, especially those times when he “overruled” my recommendations, but he always communicated his decisions with respect, outlining his reasoning in such a way that one could clearly see how he got to his position.
What sets Allan apart from most is his vision. His view of the legal profession in Canada though rooted in where it has come from, boldly reaches upward and beyond where we are today to where we ought to be tomorrow. He is always looking ahead to how the profession could better meet the needs of the public it serves, but doing so with political acumen and pragmatism. I saw this when we worked together at the LSM, but even more clearly in the work he’s been doing on the Steering Committee for the CBA’s Futures Initiative.
Allan has recently announced he’s returning to private practice with Manitoba firm, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP. This gives me a little chuckle as I have often heard him comment, in the context of dealing with issues of competence of members, that any lawyer with a practicing certificate is entitled to hang up their shingle and represent clients regardless how long they’ve been away from day to day legal practice. But Allan knows better than most of us what it takes to be a competent lawyer and I’ve no doubt he’ll ably demonstrate those skills as he hangs up his own shingle next month.