Introducing Kathy Briere, incoming CBA Alberta Secretary

  • June 11, 2024
  • CBA Alberta Editorial Committee

Incoming CBA Alberta Secretary, Kathy M. Briere, discusses how the CBA supports firms and lawyers navigate changes in our profession.

Kathy Briere, a woman with short brown hair and wearing a dark suit jacket, poses in front of a gray background with her arms crossed


CBA Alberta: Tell me about your history with the CBA. How has being a member of CBA Alberta impacted your life and your career? What has been the most meaningful experience you have had during your time as a member?

Kathy Briere: I have been a member of the CBA since I started articling in 2000.  Early in my career I was involved in the Insurance and Real Estate Sections, and these were invaluable to me. I worked in a small firm so to connect with colleagues with different career experiences and to learn from them made a world of difference to my formative years as a lawyer. The wealth of knowledge that exists in the Sections is amazing, and you can gain many informal mentors as a young lawyer by attending these meetings. It truly is a unique way to gain practical knowledge to help you get ahead as a young lawyer and to broaden the depth of your experience along with making new connections. My most meaningful experience during my time with the CBA has been my involvement with the Auto Insurance Working Group. To have the opportunity to have a direct impact and influence on possible reforms in my practice area and hopefully improve the lives of my clients and, in turn, other injured Albertans has been an honour and a highlight of my career to date. The role the CBA plays in representing the members of our Bar in front of the government of this province is incredibly important and I am excited to be a part of such a positive experience, not only for my practice area but for the members of our Bar in general. Particularly in the area of auto insurance reform, I have found over the years the voice of counsel often gets lost in the shuffle and the role the CBA plays in bringing it to the forefront is instrumental.

CBAAB: With the recent release of the report on the State of the Canadian Law Firm Market, we see that rapid change and the need to prepare for it are top of mind for law firm leaders. How can CBA Alberta help firms, legal departments, and lawyers alike navigate the changes and volatility impacting our profession today?

KB: The CBA has always been a great support for firms and lawyers practicing outside of a traditional firm setting. With regard to the report, I think it is essential for the CBA to continue its commitment to ongoing legal education for our profession, particularly with respect to the anticipated rise of Generative AI. The legal community at large seems to be hesitant to adopt the use of AI and the CBA could be a leader in not only educating the Bar on the options for Generative AI, but also disseminating knowledge on the proper use of these technologies, and how they will be received by the court system, from comparison studies with other jurisdictions. Following the pandemic, mental health and wellness has taken the forefront in our profession, which is long overdue. The CBA has supported lawyers in this aspect of the practice, however it remains a topic to be explored in more detail. Historically, lawyers do not have a good track record of asking for help when needed, and in my opinion the CBA can be a leader in normalizing this for lawyers at all levels of practice, and in all areas whether they are sole practitioners, in-house counsel or members of a large firm, again through education, dialogue and providing easy access to resources.

CBAAB: Your stated goal in running for Branch Secretary was to improve our system of justice in terms of accessibility to the public and support for members of the profession. What do you see CBA Alberta’s role is in achieving that goal?

KB: I think our justice system faces significant challenges, including high costs and complex procedures which can be barriers to many Albertans. I believe CBA Alberta can collaborate with other institutions to simplify several “legal” processes not necessarily contained to the court system, for example, helping to streamline access to insurance benefits in the situation of motor vehicle claims thereby having an impact on the legal system as a whole.  I am also a large supporter of alternative dispute resolution. I believe the CBA could assist in improving access to quality trained mediators and arbitrators in order to assist in the timely resolution of court actions and thereby involving the general public on a more hands on basis.

CBAAB: You are a passionate mentor for early-career lawyers. What advice would you give to young lawyers looking to make an impact in their careers and the profession?

KB: My advice to young lawyers early in their career is to not limit themselves. I was trained in a small firm and worked hands-on in several areas of the law prior to becoming a specialist in two specific areas. This provided me with a working knowledge of many general legal principles that span across multiple practice areas and helped to improve my competency to a great extent. It also provided the ability to network with several different practitioners throughout the Bar, thereby building relationships, many of which exist to date. These relationships can be invaluable both with respect to mentorship, and with respect to building a long-lasting practice. It is so important to learn the business of law, and the fact the law is, in essence, a people-based career. Relationships both with colleagues and clients are so very important to having a successful career, both financially and as well as one that is fulfilling personally. These relationships cause you to care deeply about your profession and your clients, which ultimately is transparent to those around you and translates to a long and rewarding career.

CBAAB: What are you passionate about outside your practice?

KB: Outside of my practice, my passions include traveling as much as possible, live music, cooking, wine and major sporting events, particularly F1 racing. I have been honoured and proud to serve as counsel for Habitat for Humanity in northern Alberta for several years, and currently sit on the Board of Directors for DRIFCan, raising money to ultimately find a cure for diabetes.

Kathy's term as CBA Alberta Secretary will begin on September 1, 2024, and she will begin her term as Alberta President on September 1, 2027.