Bencher Profile Series: Ted Feehan
For Ted Feehan, the practice of law is a family affair. As the son of former Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, J. Bernard Feehan, and the younger brother of Court of Appeal Justice, Kevin P. Feehan, and with about ten other lawyers in his extended family, the profession is near and dear to his heart.
“I was never pressured to become a lawyer, but I became a lawyer because I saw how much my family enjoyed and loved the practice of law. It was their passion that inspired me.”
While there is always lively discussion and debate at family get togethers, Ted treasures his legal roots and has managed to harness his own personal style in the practice of law.
“My preferred style of communication is to insert humour into the conversation and have a bit of fun. I like to establish a genuine relationship with my clients and fellow lawyers whenever possible. Do not get me wrong, the law is very important. Our clients’ problems deserve to be taken seriously but lawyers ought not to take themselves too seriously. I have found that a more relaxed and personal approach resonates better with clients and ultimately results in better outcomes.”
Ted has been putting this personal touch into his 32 years of working as an Alberta lawyer. He attended the University of Alberta receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Political Science, in 1985 followed by a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1988. He articled at Bennett Jones and was called to the Alberta bar in 1989. Ted continued to work at Bennett Jones until June 1998, when he joined Duncan Craig LLP, where he is now a partner. He has practised in all areas of general and commercial litigation.
“With the experience I have gained, I wanted to find a way to give back to both the legal profession and broader community that has given so much to me. Running for Bencher was the obvious choice for me in immersing myself in the bigger picture.”
Ted’s involvement on his firm’s management committee has given him a better understanding of the lawyer/client relationship and how it must be fostered to avoid common mistakes that could end up being raised with the Law Society.
“Clients just want to understand and appreciate the legal process related to their issue. Communication is absolutely the key to managing expectations by ensuring that the public better understand what we do, and why we’re taking the approach we’re taking.”
Ted brings this practice and client management perspective to the Lawyer Competence Committee, with the goal of building upon knowledge acquired in law school with fundamental competencies and skills necessary to succeed in the early years of practice and beyond.
“It is in the articling process and the initial three to five years of practising law where lawyers really start to develop their legal knowledge and practical skills. Great emphasis must be placed upon the developmental stages of lawyers to ensure that they acquire the tools necessary to prosper as skilled, ethical lawyers in the profession.”
Ted is no stranger to lending his experience to both the profession and the public. He has lectured at the University of Alberta (Faculty of Extension), the Legal Education Society of Alberta, Law Society of Alberta Bar Admission Course (guest lecturer), the Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Defence Lawyers University of Windsor Law School and to private industry. He is also a former member of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Board of Ethics, the St. Stephen’s College Ethics Review Board and the St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild. He sits on the board of the Edmonton People in Need Housing Society and the Frank J. Flaman Charity Board.
This work in the community has also shaped his outlook on the Law Society’s strategic issues such as equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as access to justice.
“It’s important that Alberta lawyers be representative of society as a whole, recognizing the distinct and various backgrounds of our clients.”
And while Ted acknowledges that the pandemic has come with its’ own set of challenges for all professions, it has also been accompanied by some good for the legal profession and clients.
“COVID has demonstrated that access to justice can be fostered through technology. The fact that I can appear in court in Calgary on ten minutes notice as opposed to a six-hour roundtrip drive, greatly benefits my clients. They can select a lawyer of their choosing from across the province who can appear without the abhorrent cost of travel. Post-COVID, I’m hoping we can keep some of the cost savings measures that we employed to make access to justice more affordable by incorporating many of the lessons that we have learned.”