Royal nod for local lawyer

Donald Kawano of Cranbrook in good company as Queen’s Counsel.

A local lawyer was among 30 in the province who received the title of Queen’s Counsel this week after an announcement by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Shirley Bond.

Donald Kawano is the latest member of the Cranbrook legal community to receive the honour after being nominated by his firm, Rella & Paolini.

“I’m very proud, I’m humbled by it,” Kawano said.

The title is strictly honorary, but is based on a royal tradition. Kawano, who practises civil law, explained that members of the Queen’s Counsel were historically lawyers that were trusted to carry out the king or queen’s business. Now the title has taken on a different meaning, with lawyers being named to the list each year.

“That’s been relaxed to now it’s an honorary title,” Kawano said.

But that doesn’t mean the title isn’t important. Kawano said members are generally held in high regard by the legal community.

Appointed members of the legal community, the president of the

Law Society of B.C.

and the Canadian Bar Association select from the nominees each year to grant them the title

of Queen’s Counsel. Kawano said his name was put forward by Donald Paolini and Allan Rella of Rella & Paolini. While he was aware his hat had been thrown into the ring, Kawano said it was still a shock.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Only seven per cent of the lawyers in the province can hold the title at any given time, which makes them among an exclusive group.

Kawano will join a growing list of lawyers from Cranbrook and area who have earned the title. Among them are Neil Robertson, Sandra Smaill, John Zimmer, Gerry Kambeitz and Ken Steidl, to name a few.

Kawano’s experience in the legal community extends beyond his time at Rella & Paolini. He said his extracurricular activities may have tipped the scales in his favour as the panel reviewing Queen’s Counsel appointments takes into consideration volunteer and community activities.

Kawano is active with the Rotary Club and Cranbrook and District Restorative Justice Society, which helps mediate legal concerns outside of court and find solutions that provide a positive solution for the victim of a crime and the offender.

“They like to recognize any people that are looking for other ways to solve legal disputes,” Kawano said.

And through the restorative justice society, Kawano does just that. He works with offenders who acknowledge that they have done wrong and would like to make the situation right. The voluntary programs helps offenders charged with crimes such as shoplifting write apology letters and find positive community service opportunities to give back to their community.

“Out of that process comes a resolution agreement,” Kawano said. “It’s outside the court process.”

While lawyers often had a stigma about them, Kawano said he enjoys his job because he helps people every day.

“Practising law in my view is one of the helping professions,” he said. “It’s very much like the restorative process. I enjoy dealing with legal issues and presenting arguments on behalf of people.”

The Queen’s Counsel designation will be made official at a ceremony some time in the spring in Vancouver. Kawano plans to attend, and said it never would have happened without Rella and Paolini.

“I appreciate the support of my firm who nominated me for this designation.”