Blessings and curses from 2009

Tony Wilson
Boughton Law
Columns that appear during the last week of December tend to have two common attributes. First, they run the risk of not being read by anyone.

After all, if you’re really smart this week, you’re in Mexico, Maui, or the Caribbean. Second, columns appearing in the last week of December tend to look reflectively and nostalgically at the year just passed.

I hope to disappoint you on both fronts, without saying anything about Tiger Woods, Avatar, or the balloon boy.

For the last two years, my family and I have caught 5 a.m. flights on Boxing Day for warmer climes; Zihuatanejo two years ago and Cancun last year.

I can tell you there’s nothing quite like eight or nine days in the sun, drinking margaritas in the pool (as opposed to by the pool — it’s Mexico after all), jet skiing around a warm Mexican bay, scuba diving with sea turtles with my daughter, and generally relaxing without having to deal with clients’ phone calls or e-mails (unless of course you’re stupid enough to bring your BlackBerry with you).  

Two New Year’s Eves ago, a client e-mailed me on my BlackBerry, attached a document, and asked me to review it within 24 hours. Out of interest I tried to download it in case it was an easy matter. It was a 75-page master franchise agreement in pdf.

I told the client it was impossible to read it on the BlackBerry (translation: I wasn’t going to read it while on holidays on a 1.5-inch screen). He offered to fax it. “I’m in the Mexican Jungle,” I told him, looking east towards the desert and west towards the ocean. “There are no fax machines here.” Not being anywhere near the resort lobby, there honestly weren’t.

The client was annoyed, but not as annoyed as I was when I checked the data and roaming charges for trying to download a large agreement from Mexico on a BlackBerry.

The moral of the story is this: outrageous data and roaming charges are God’s way of telling you not to take your BlackBerry on holidays. When you’re on holidays between Christmas and New Year’s with your family, you’re not available.

If your clients can’t wait until you return, maybe you need new clients.

This year I’m afraid there will be no sun-drenched beaches or poolside margaritas. My teenagers want to stay home and party with their friends rather than go to Mexico with their parents. Sadly, I will collect my accounts receivable in the morning, and take off in the afternoon to ski at Cypress Mountain before they close it for the Olympics. Alas, life in la-la land is a curse.

As for the year just passed, I can’t wait to see the back of it. Everyone I know in the legal biz in this city will remember the first few months of 2009 as some of the bleakest in living memory.

Remember, banks in the United States and the United Kingdom were falling by the wayside and crying for government bailouts. Then General Motors and Chrysler were failing and crying for government bailouts.

Then McDonald’s pulled out of Iceland!

Gloom and doom reigned supreme and the only silver lining I can recall was that there were more bad jokes about investment bankers and Wall Street brokers than lawyers.

There were days in January and February where I didn’t know where the work was going to come from and when it would show up.

But like the sun reappearing after a bad storm, it seemed to pass. Certainly, it wasn’t a great year for many solicitors, who depend on a thriving economy for their bread and butter. But I suppose my clients stopped navel-gazing in mid-March and decided to get back in the game.

So I’d have to say, confidence is up. Real estate came back in B.C. in the nick of time.

And at the time of writing, the malls are packed with Christmas shoppers and all the sales staff at stores like Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew, and Best Buy have smiles on their faces. The suburban malls are busy too, given the fact you can’t  seem to find parking.

I confess to have drawn deep and lasting satisfaction from my recent purchases.

And for what its worth, a salesclerk at Holt Renfrew actually wished me a merry Christmas the other day instead of the ubiquitous and politically correct, “Happy Holidays;” a feat that will keep me shopping there despite the prices. Little mercies are rare these days.

I am optimistic about 2010. And I confess, I am optimistic about the Olympics in February. It’s easy to get annoyed about the disruption we’ll face getting to and from work in Vancouver (many of the usual traffic corridors in and out of the city will be closed), and whether any work can be done while the biggest party on earth is literally across the street.

But we’ll manage, I suppose. Life in la-la land is a blessing and a curse.

Vancouver franchise lawyer Tony Wilson has written for various legal and news publications. He is associate counsel at Boughton Law Corp. His e-mail is [email protected].

Recent articles & video

SCC reinforces Crown's narrow scope to appeal acquittal, high bar to show mens rea to prove murder

Final changes to competition laws will require more sophisticated merger analysis: Blakes lawyers

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds paramedics' convictions over death of shooting victim

BC Court of Appeal upholds class action certification in Capital One data breach case

BC Supreme Court awards damages for chronic pain and mental health issues from car accident

BC court declines jurisdiction over property and support in Mexico divorce case

Most Read Articles

BC Supreme Court dismisses applications seeking personal liability of estate executor

BC Supreme Court upholds trust company's estate administration amid beneficiary dispute

Alberta Court of Appeal reinstates sanctions on naturopathic doctor for unprofessional conduct

Government of Canada publishes a report to tackle anti-black racism in the justice system