Headon to be first in-house lawyer to head CBA

fred headonCanadian Bar Association members have elected the first ever in-house lawyer as second vice president, the first step toward the organization’s national presidency, which Fred Headon will take on in 2013.

Based in Montreal, Headon heads Air Canada’s in-house labour and employment law team. He is also part of the leadership of CBA’s subgroup for in-house counsel, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, which is currently holding its annual spring conference in Toronto.

Legal Feeds caught up with Headon at the conference. He says he sees his election as a reflection of the changing makeup of the bar, as in-house lawyers grow in number across Canada.

“I also think this is in recognition of the strategic role that we play managing the relationship with external counsel and the files that we work on with them,” says Headon. “And I think it’s exciting that the CBA executive will now have a reflection of that part of the bar.”

About 4,200 in-house counsel are CBA members out of a total membership of 37,000.

Headon’s election comes three months after disagreements over funding and independence between the CBA and the CCCA led to the CBA abruptly dismissing all CCCA board members — including Headon. However, unlike most of the former board members, Headon was called back to be part of a transitional CCCA executive committee until a new board is constituted in August.

He says his dual role in the CBA-CCCA is a sign the organization works well with external and in-house counsel under the same umbrella.

“We are part of the same family, and this is how we work together. I think there is a lot that can be learned from both organizations,” says Headon. “There are significant differences, but at the end of the day, we all practice law.”

Called to the Bar in Quebec in 1997, Headon has been a member of the CBA since 1999. He was previously an associate and then partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. He assumes the second vice presidency of the CBA in August, 2011. A year later he becomes first vice president, and, in August 2013, takes over the national presidency.

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