This post is part of our series profiling individual lawyers. The practice of law spans a lot of personalities and the idea is to dive a little deeper into their individual backgrounds and outlooks on the legal profession. These posts are structured as Q&A interviews. Next up is P. Jason Forbes a corporate commercial lawyer at KMSC Law LLP in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
How did you decide to move to Grande Prairie?
Having grown-up in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Grande Prairie was always the big city down south. I then went to boarding school just outside of Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, for my final year of high school and met my future wife, Julie Foster, who was born and raised in Beaverlodge (approximately 40 km west of Grande Prairie), cementing my connection to the Grande Prairie area. Julie and I were married while still taking our undergraduate degrees at the University of Saskatchewan and did not give too much serious thought with respect to where we would end-up, until I was accepted into several law schools across the country. It was then that we had to sit down and decide whether we wanted to go to a school that would transition me into a legal practice in Toronto, Vancouver, or another large centre, or whether we wanted to return north and begin our professional lives in a more rural setting. After looking into the opportunities available in Grande Prairie and the work/life balance that would be available to us, we decided to move to Victoria for law school, with the intention of moving to Grande Prairie, which we ultimately did after I graduated.
Real estate is the new weather. What is your experience with buying a home in Peace Country?
My experience buying a home in the Peace Country has been very positive. When Julie and I moved to Grande Prairie we were able to afford a starter home right away, which was particularly exciting for us given the inflated housing prices in other areas of the country (particularly Toronto and Vancouver!). We were also excited because we both wanted the opportunity to renovate a house and try earning some extra income off of our sweat equity. After several renovations and several moves, we found our dream renovation on an acreage just outside of Grande Prairie, which is where we live today with our three children, two dogs and two cats.
Can you share any of your memories from your time at UVic Law?
Our time at the University of Victoria was an exciting time for both Julie and I. Julie was just finishing her social work degree when we moved there and was able to find a fantastic job in downtown Victoria. The law program was ranked #1 in the country at the time, according to Maclean’s magazine, and the faculty and students were all incredibly bright, motivated and inspiring people to be around. Further, I believe it was the only law school in Canada that offered a co-op program, so after my first year of studies I began alternating every four months between working in different areas in the legal field and being in school. Not only did the co-op program give me an opportunity to experience the legal profession and gain some experience, but the additional income helped to relieve some of the financial pressure that we were facing at the time with tuition, books, etc. Of course, the fantastic education and work experience were not the only reason that attracted us to Victoria. We both took full advantage of the recreational opportunities available to us on the island, including scuba diving, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, trail running and getting involved in different sports, including, for me, rugby.
Has having 3 kids changed any of your perspectives on estate planning?
Having 3 kids has absolutely changed my perspective with respect to estate planning! Beginning my legal practice in Grande Prairie in 2004, I had a lot of legal knowledge related to estate planning. When I met with a client I could write a will that would be legally sound and would achieve the results my client hoped for. That said, I did not necessarily have the experience to advise my client as to what they might want to consider, from a practical perspective. Having children and experiencing the passing of several loved ones have both given me the perspective and experience to relate to my clients, both young and old, and to discuss some of the practical realities of growing old and eventually dying. I now have a much better understanding of how life works, how family relationships function when times are good and when times are difficult, and the legal and practical fall-outs and hurdles that arise when a loved one passes away. Life is a precious thing, but it is not a permanent thing. We all want to ensure that we leave something for our loved ones and that we do not burden them unnecessarily because we were not prepared for the inevitable.