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November, 2021
November, 2021 | Article

TLOMA 2022 Conference Teaser

After two years of virtual life, we look forward to bringing everyone together for our 2022 TLOMA Conference & Tradeshow. We are heading back to one of our favourite locations. A place where we will spend our days learning, our evenings mingling, and of course we’ll squeeze in some shopping during our breaks!

More conference details to come!

Our Conference Prize Winners are:

  • Stephanie Haber, Haber & Associates and Nicole Sparkman, Black Sutherland - each won a $100 E-Gift Card sponsored by Compugen
  • Jo-Anne Hebert, Benson Percival Brown LLP - winner of the Gift video prize package, sponsored by  Facility Plus
  • Petra Paul, Stieber Berlach LLP  - winner of the Bahia Principe Residences in Riviera Maya, Mexico, sponsored by ION Group of Companies
  • Dawn Millar, Pape Salter Teillet LLP - winner of the 2 VIP tickets to 'Beyond Monet', sponsored by Cartel Inc.
  • Tanya Postma, SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP - winner of a $300 Amazon gift card, sponsored by Tikit Ltd.
  • Elaine Delany, Stevenson Whelton LLP - winner of a 6 months free dealcloser membership, sponsored by dealcloser
  • Mark Hunter, Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP -  winner of the Peloton Bike sponsored by Forge Recruitment Inc.
  • Samantha Scimmi, Loopstra Nixon LLP - winner of the Apple Watch sponsored by Korbitec Inc.
  • Paul (Chuck) White, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP - winner of the Amazon Echo Dot, sponsored by Netex Managed Services
  • Lisa Soulliere, Ricci, Enns, Rollier & Setterington LLP - winner of the AirPods Pro sponsored by Vertex 
  • Ani Tchakmakjian, Flaherty McCarthy LLP - winner of the $100 Amazon Gift Card sponsored by Wilson Allen
  • Cidalia Sousa, Robson Carpenter LLP, Melissa Wemyss, Wards Lawyers PC and Michelle Williamson, Sherrard Kuzz LLP - each won a $250 Gift Card sponsored by The Hiring Partner.


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November, 2021 | Article

Vice President Message

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Hunter, Mark 10may19
Author Mark Hunter

November for many of us is a time for planning and budgeting. In many years we would look at the immediate past to help understand what the coming year may hold. That will be much more difficult this year as we will likely need to look further back than usual while still understanding our today. For TLOMA, we are doing the same. The Association was able to pivot with virtual learning, conference and an in-person outdoor event. As we consider 2022, our plan is to offer learnings both virtually and in-person. We are reviewing our history and asking the same questions your firms are – what should we keep, what should we skip and where can we improve.

The search for our new Executive Director is on-going. The hiring committee has been working closely with our recruiter to find an individual who will help lead our association. A number of very interesting candidates have come forward with differing back-grounds each offering insights and ideas about how TLOMA can grow.

On October 5th, we held the first TLOMA Golf Tournament at the Royal Ontario Golf Club. The idea was brought forward by a member to bring our business partners and members together in a new way. I would like to thank our sponsors, Forge Recruitment Inc., Branch Office Services, Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc., Ricoh Canada, and Facility Plus who were happy to support this new event. I would also like to acknowledge Dawn Millar who wasn’t able to golf but ensured everyone had a great time at the event. With so much interest in the event, our goal is to run a similar event earlier in 2022.

October included a number of interesting SIGs in Marketing, Human Resources and Technology. I want to thank all the presenters as these sessions were very well done and the response was positive from members I spoke with.

As you will have read, TLOMA is offering a 10% discount to renew your membership by December 10th. The board decided to maintain our current member dues for 2022. I encourage you to renew your membership as soon as possible to take advantage of the savings.

Mark Hunter
TLOMA Vice President

Mark has over 20 years marketing and communications experience delivering strategic advice and operational expertise that guides and supports organizations. He has helped lawyers, engineers, scientists and planners understand where clients come from, why they get selected over other professionals and what they need to do to keep a busy book.

Mark has helped a number of organizations appreciate what differentiates them, how foundational awareness guides good decision making, and how to build a high performing cultures.

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November, 2021 | Article

Gratitude In Abundance

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Sprake, Colin
Author Colin Sprake

One of the luxuries many people have missed recently is travel, so Staycation Box decided to bring those places here with their newest initiative experiences.

These unique gift experiences are unlike anything on the market. They provide a way for corporations like law firms, insurance brokers, realtors, mortgage brokers, as well as thoughtful individuals to show gratitude to clients, staff, vendors, referral partners, and friends in a special way. In return they increase client retention, referrals and satisfaction ratings and sets the giver apart from the competition while transforming clients and vendors into raving fans.

“We want gratitude to be 365 days a year, not just at Christmas when everyone gets gifts to thank customers,” says Colin Sprake, founder and CEO of Luxury Experiences Inc. “Staycation Box Experiences is built on gratitude.”

And unlike other gift companies, these boxes are carefully assembled experiences that transport recipients to another place, extending beyond the contents of the 12x12 box. Recipients scan a QR code to access the online details that bring the boxes alive, from the music that has been curated to complement the theme of the box to the tasting notes for the chosen wine.

“You set the ambiance,” he says. “It’s an incredibly unique experience, and no one else gives an online experience.”

And no one else pairs the highest quality locally-sourced food with beautiful keepsakes, whether that is a ceramic brie baker and garlic roaster in the French soiree or cocktail shaker and margarita glasses in the Mexican fiesta or the beautiful checkered blanket on which to enjoy the Okanagan experience. Everything is included in the Staycation Box Experience, and all recipients need to do is be whisked away to a vacation destination through the sounds, aromas and tastes of their chosen package. There is even a personalized heartfelt, handwritten note from the firm or person that accompanies each Staycation.

Clients can choose an experience inspired by Italy, France, Mexico, Hawaii, India and now the Okanagan featuring wines from iconic vineyards like Mission Hill, Moraine and Okanagan Crush Pad—and Luxury Experiences does the rest. While most clients are in BC, Alberta and Ontario, Staycation Box Experiences can be shipped across the country thanks to its amazing shipping partners and shelf-stable ingredients. To prolong the gratitude and spirit of giving so important to the Sprakes, Luxury Experiences donates a percentage of each box sold to the client’s choice of food bank.

“Our goal is to wake everyone up to gratitude,” Sprake says.

With boxes that offer beautiful products, amazing food, and a safe travel experience from home, waking up has never been so amazing.

For more information, please call 778-384-6789.

Colin Sprake is a global authority on spouse owned and operated companies. Having worked with his wife, Gabi for over 2 decades, he knows what it takes to have a successful business, marriage, and family life. He has truly figured out the secret to balancing it all.

Colin is a South African native and serial entrepreneur with decades of experience building multiple multi million-dollar businesses globally, in various Industries and economics. Colin founded Make Your Mark Training and Consulting in 2004 with a passion to assist spouse owned and operated businesses to realize their full revenue and profit potential and do it with heart, making a positive impression on those their business impacts: staff, colleagues, vendors, families, and the community. He is an absolute business genius and can assist you out of any challenge - his creativity is something to experience and witness!

Colin built Make Your Mark on the core values of Community of Trust, Respect the Individual, Integrity, Commitment to Excellence, Open to Possibilities, and Unconditional Gratitude. He also places people and planet over profits

He is building the fastest growing community of spouse owned businesses from around the globe and wants the world to be live by 4 words - Love, Respect, Responsibility and Commitment.

He is one of two Canadians who are part of an Elite Group called the Transformational Leadership Council founded by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul series). He is a Wisdom Council member with the Evolutionary Business Council. Colin is also a #1 best-selling author presently with four #1 International Bestsellers and has co-authored books with Dan Kennedy & Brian Tracy. Colin has also won two Quilly Awards and has been inducted twice into the National Academy of Bestselling Authors in Hollywood.

Colin's articles and interviews have appeared in many local and international print media Including The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Inc. Magazine, Seattle Times, and Reno Gazette. Colin has also appeared on many TV channels as a guest business expert: Global, MSNBC and CTV to mention a few.

He was featured in the movie, Finding Freedom in Your Second Fifty that has helped tens of thousands of people. Colin has also been blessed to be mentored by Sir Richard Branson and some of the Dragons and Sharks from entrepreneurial TV shows, Dragons' Den and Shark Tank. Some are now personal friends!

A highly sought-after keynote speaker and trainer, Colin guarantees his audience will walk away from his presentations, no matter how long or short, with practical tools and strategies you can use immediately in your life and business to achieve greater success and make a positive impact in the world. He also teaches that success is attainable in both family and business without sacrificing one for the other.

Colin currently resides in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, with his beautiful wife of 24-years and their two daughters.

Be ready to be Colinized!

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November, 2021 | Article

Treatment or Punishment: How Current Substance Use Treatment Policies Hurt Lawyers

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Palmer, Maureen
Author Maureen Palmer

 If a lawyer with a seizure disorder misses court because of a seizure and the client complains to the Law Society, how should that complaint be handled?

If a lawyer with a substance use disorder misses court because of drug or alcohol use and the client subsequently complains to the Law Society, how should that complaint be handled?

To Jonathan Chapnick of Vancouver’s Portage Legal Services, they ought to be treated primarily the same. Chapnick has worked for unions and employers for 15 years and is an expert on workplace law and policy, especially in the area of mental health and substance use.

“Both complaints are connected to health issues, yet many lawyers and law societies might not see it that way and seem convinced that these two similar situations demand two dramatically different responses.” When asked why this is the case, Chapnick offers a simple response: “Stigma.” In 2018, Chapnick presented to the Law Society of BC’s Mental Health Task Force on how it regulates lawyers with mental health and substance use disorders. “In the legal profession, like almost everywhere else, attitudes toward substance use reflect dominant beliefs and misperceptions, including the idea that addiction is a moral failing, rather than a health or socio-political issue. People with substance use issues are imputed with undesirable characteristics, which often gives rise to a coercive and judgmental response.  It’s no wonder many folks are scared to seek help.”

Substance use is one the most thorny and pervasive issues in the profession. A 2016 study by the American Bar Association/Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found one in three practicing lawyers to be engaged in heavy drinking, based on the volume and frequency of alcohol consumed. According to the Legal Profession Assistance Conference of Canada (LPAC) various studies cite the rate of substance use as somewhere between 15% and 24%.   And that’s before the pandemic. Since then, substance use and mental health diagnoses spiked further. Women’s heavy drinking in general jumped 41 percent and a 2021 survey of lawyers in California and DC also found risky/hazardous drinking significantly higher amongst female lawyers.  Recognizing the need for fresh data, the Federation of Law Societies is currently surveying Canadian lawyers about mental health and substance use. Studies to date suggest the vast majority of discipline matters involve Alcohol Use Disorders.

Yet alcohol is woven into the reward system of many legal firms. Champagne corks pop with big wins.  Long days crafting briefs become long nights unwinding in the bar.  The work culture rewards those with more billable hours, which invariably creates more stress.

Canadian businesses, including law firms, have made significant gains supporting employees as they face mental health challenges. Yet substance use, which makes up 33 percent of all mental health issues, is still steeped in stigma. Most people so fear being labeled with a drinking problem, it’s estimated only 1 in 10 seek treatment. According to the Law Society of BC’s Mental Health Task Force, very few lawyers disclose substance use to regulatory bodies, fearing both discipline and the judgment of colleagues. “Why would they?” asks Chapnick.  “The only certainty that comes with disclosure is stigma, and it plays out in at least a couple of ways.” First, social stigma operates on a group level and plays out behaviourally. Members of a large group, say a Law Society – might believe lawyers battling addiction are less competent, so they don’t refer clients to them . “That’s social stigma and it’s often scaffolded on dated, erroneous beliefs and poorly extrapolated data.”

Then there’s structural stigma, where lawyers with addictions face policies that control their behaviour, creating intrusions and impositions not placed on lawyers with other personal issues or health conditions. For instance: forcing lawyers to attend costly and invasive “Independent Medical Exams” where they have no choice in doctor or treatment and attendance is compulsory. This is not the standard in other health care.               .

As a result, says Chapnick, lawyers with substance use disorders might not get the treatment or support they need. “And for some, this might mean that their health or personal circumstances will get worse and could start affecting their professional practice.” That usually results in expensive trips to rehab and the beginning of a regulatory process that many with addiction issues feel is punitive.

“Quite often this creates more anxiety and fear in the lawyer battling substance use, because the current patient experience is broken,” says Elliot Stone, the CEO of ALAViDA, Canada’s first completely virtual, evidence-based substance use treatment available directly on employees’ smartphones. “The vast majority of traditional rehabs do not yet offer a broad range of evidence-based treatment. Few have medically trained specialists and medication. Wait times range from 17 to 52 days. There is a one-size-fits-all approach, regardless of the severity of the problem."

Damage mounts to both the employee and the workplace. Disability costs skyrocket. “These types of problems are avoidable, argues Chapnick. “Evidence supports a variety of addiction treatment options and therapeutic approaches, including early and preventative interventions that can result in positive health outcomes. But none of these options and supports really matter if employees and legal professionals can’t access them.”

“We think the key to getting in front of this tsunami of substance use, is to make a benefit available pre-disability and make it available to all employees, not just the ones with substance use challenges. We confidentially deal with all levels of substance use, mild, moderate, or severe and we help employees who just want to incorporate a healthier approach to alcohol use in their lifestyle. That in itself is de-stigmatizing,” according to ALAViDA’s Stone. “When it comes to accessing substance use treatment, we think it should be no more difficult than going to physio. The boss doesn’t need to know about an employee’s bad back; nor do they need to know about an employee’s substance use disorder unless it impacts work performance. We want to create a world where people seek help for their problem before it's a full-blown crisis and removing stigma is key.”

Other professions with the dual duty to protect the public and support members have recognized those with substance use disorders (SUD) are subject to discriminating policies. A report coauthored by the BC Nurses’ union calls for reforming how nurses with SUDs are treated. “BC nurses with SUDs are usually offered a cookie-cutter treatment approach, regardless of the severity of the disorder, job environment and work duties … leaving nurses with SUDs at high risk of relapse." The report describes how those nurses are asked to undergo an independent medical exam (IME), "which is often carried out by one of a small number of physicians, many of whom have a financial interest in a monitoring company." The BC Law Society recognizes the limits of current approaches and its Benchers have adopted a recommendation for an alternative discipline process based on the report of the Mental Health Task Force.

Key to ensuring lawyers get the help they need early: education at the managing partner level that’s geared to addressing structural problems, like improving working conditions that increase lawyer’s vulnerability to substance-related harms. Firm leaders also need to adopt a more compassionate tone, so lawyers will feel more supported and less judged. The pay off in adopting a fresh approach is huge:  a much healthier workforce and an astounding 565 percent return on investment. “It’s good business,” says ALAViDA’s Stone “and it’s the right thing to do.”

To learn more about evidence-based substance use treatment, contact

Maureen Palmer is a Canadian journalist, author and filmmaker, whose company Bountiful Films has delivered two decades worth of award-winning documentaries.  She co-wrote her partner Mike Pond’s memoir, Wasted: An Alcoholic Therapist's Fight for Recovery in a Flawed Treatment Systemand wrote and directed the film Wasted, for CBC’s Nature of Things, which followed Mike’s search for compassionate, evidence-based addiction treatment.  She’s now a subject matter expert, writing primarily about substance use.
November, 2021 | Movers and Shakers
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Movers and Shakers

New Members

Jeff Lawford

Manager, Administrative Services

Torkin Manes LLP

Jocelyn Valentini

HR Generalist

Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP


Teresa Krupa

Director of Operations

Coutts Crane


Margo Sbrizzi

Office Manager / Bookkeeper

Grossman Gale Fletcher Hopkins LLP

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