Bencher Profile Series: Bud Melnyk, QC
When Bud Melnyk, QC, got the call that he was re-elected as a Bencher for the Law Society, he was thrilled to once again have the opportunity to represent the Central Alberta district at the table.
“I’ve always gotten a lot of personal satisfaction from being involved with the community as a Board member. On a professional level, it’s also very enlightening as a lawyer to be involved with the Law Society, not only to gain a better understanding of the mechanics of the organization, but also to gain a broader understanding of the profession as a whole,” he says.
Bud initially joined the Board in February 2018 and now takes his seat for a second three-year term.
Born and raised in Edmonton with six other siblings, Bud obtained both his Bachelor of Commerce and his Juris Doctor from the University of Alberta. Shortly after being called to the Alberta bar in 1991, he began practising law in Red Deer and has now been an active member of the legal community for 30 years. He comes to the Bencher table as a partner at Warren Sinclair LLP.
Bud has always had a unique passion for education throughout his career, and has acted as an educator in a variety of capacities within the legal community in Red Deer.
“I taught for several years at Red Deer College in the legal assistant program, and I’ve taught a number of other courses on legal matters geared towards the public as well.”
He has also served as an instructor with the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA), and currently sits on the boards of both the Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) and the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED), the provider of the bar admission program, the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP).
This aptitude for education and adult learning has been an asset in Bud’s work around lawyer competence with the Law Society. The Lawyer Competence Committee (LCC) was formed in early 2020 to make decisions coming out of the Strategic Plan related to the strategic goal of competence and wellness.
Continuing the work from 2020, the LCC is looking at the efficacy of articling as training for new lawyers, strategies for the ongoing training of lawyers beyond articling including changes to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program and the role of wellness in lawyer competence. This work reinforces the important role of the regulator in lawyer competence and recognizes that access to competent legal services is fundamental to the public interest.
“For the past year and a half, I have sat on the LCC, and I have really enjoyed the work that comes out of that committee. For me, it ties into the articling process and CPLED because it’s all about developing competent lawyers starting at the articling phase doing PREP and then moving into their first few years of practice, and looking at how we’re going to provide CPD over that course. That for me has certainly been work that I’ve found very fulfilling,” says Bud.
Bud himself has also acted as a principal several times over the years, so he knows firsthand some of the challenges that both principals and articling students face throughout the process. In looking at lawyer competence, one of the goals of the LCC is to establish an application and education process for lawyers who want to act as articling principals.
“I certainly always found as a principal that there wasn’t a lot of guidance about the process, so to be on the other side of that now working to develop training is really interesting to me,” he says.
When asked if there was anything final he would like to say to lawyers and students in Alberta, Bud returns to his educational mantra.
“I’m also a part of two mentorship programs at the Law Society, and I would encourage everyone to get involved with those programs, either as a mentor or a mentee. You have a tremendous number of resources out there from experienced lawyers and you should take advantage of that. It doesn’t matter whether you’re one-year out from your bar call or 50 – it’s a constant learning process and we can all benefit from learning from others.”