IN a historic election of the B.C. Law Society, for the first time ever two South Asians were elected to the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia: Pinder Cheema, Q.C., Administrative Crown Counsel, Victoria, and Jeevyn Dhaliwal with Roper Greyell LLP of Vancouver and will serve for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2014 and ending December 31, 2015.
Lawyers elect fellow lawyers to govern them. Benchers are the governing body as well as the regulatory body and the adjudicative body. They also appoint members to be disciplinary members who give advice to other members – and if there are hearings to be held, they sit on those panels.
Ten Benchers were elected for the first time and 12 were re-elected (four by acclamation) in the 2014-2015 Bencher election.
Members had previously elected the following Benchers as President, First Vice-President and Second Vice-President, respectively, for 2014:
* Jan Lindsay, QC (President and Bencher for Westminster)
* Kenneth Walker, QC (First Vice-President and Bencher for Kamloops)
* David Crossin, QC (Second Vice-President and Bencher for Vancouver)
Lindsay, Walker and Crossin continue as Benchers for their respective districts by virtue of their executive office.
Pinder Cheema, Q.C.
Administrative Crown Counsel, Victoria
Pinder Cheema’s parents arrived in Victoria in July 1952 seeking to make a better life. The young couple had three daughters, and there was some pressure to send all of them back to the village to be raised in India. Pinder’s mother refused the suggestion and promised to provide her daughters the opportunity for a Canadian education.
Pinder graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and eventually a Law Degree from the University of Victoria in 1983. She practiced law as a sole practitioner in Victoria serving clients in French and Punjabi, until she joined the Ministry of the Attorney General in 1989.
Cheema has broken many barriers and set records as the first female Sikh law graduate at the University of Victoria and Queen’s Counsel designation (2002).
Roper Greyell LLP, Vancouver
Jeevyn Dhaliwal was born and raised in Kamloops to an early pioneer family. She obtained her law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1997 and was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 1998. She has long been active in the legal community, including having served on the Law Society’s Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee for 2013. She is a Board member and past President of SABABC (South Asian Bar Association of B.C.)
As a testament to her skills as a lawyer, she was selected by her peers for inclusion in the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers Canada. Her community involvement extends to singing at charitable and sporting events and she has, over the years, been a frequent guest anthem singer for the Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey team.