In Memoriam: Remembering Shannon McGinty

McGinty-Shannon-017_2x3-@-300-CL.jpgBy James L. Lebo. Q.C.

I have a favourite memory of my colleague and friend Shannon McGinty, who died on October 5, 2019 after a six-year battle with cancer, to share with you. But first, let me tell you something about this fine person.

Our relationship got off to a halting start. I met Shannon during articling interviews in 2006. Though she presented well and made a good impression, we didn’t hire her. That was our misjudgment. Fortunately we had the opportunity to correct that mistake four years later when we hired Shannon as an associate. Shannon never let me forget that initial misstep in our relationship.

In the years that followed my colleagues and I got to know the many facets of Shannon’s character. In work Shannon became a valued member of our litigation team. She was a capable lawyer, with good written and practice skills and sound judgment. Shannon was a gracious friend and mentor in the office who provided wise counsel to many articling students and young lawyers. Shannon was also liked by opposing counsel. Following her passing our firm received several messages of condolences from other lawyers and firms, a sign of the respect and esteem with which she was held in the legal community.

Shannon was a giving volunteer. During her third year in law school Shannon worked at CBA Alberta, where she was the Volunteer Lawyer Services (VLS) Coordinator. VLS (now part of Pro Bono Law Alberta) was a program that helped pair non-profit and charitable organizations in need of legal services with volunteer lawyers. She is fondly remembered by the CBA Alberta staff as a joy to work with who was "like a ray of sunshine in the office", and who always gave the best hugs.

Once in practice, Shannon became more closely involved in CBA Alberta. She was active in Sections and Council and played an important role in the evolution of this publication. Shannon was a member of the Editorial Committee from 2009 to 2013, and served as committee chair and Law Matters editor in 2012 and 2013 until her cancer diagnosis and treatment forced her to step down. Outside of law, Shannon volunteered at the Mustard Seed.

Most importantly, Shannon was a wonderful person. She cared about the people she worked with, both staff and lawyers, had a tremendous sense of humour and contributed to firm endeavours, including acting as captain of our firm’s dodgeball team (for the one season the league existed). Shannon was fun to be around. She had a great sense of humour, laughed a lot and was a positive presence in many ways.

Shannon did not change following her diagnosis and through very challenging, ongoing treatments Shannon lived life as much as she could. She and her husband Phil travelled the world. Shannon continued to join in our firm retreats and holiday parties. She kept in touch with lawyers and staff, even after they no longer worked at the firm.

Which brings me to my favourite memory of Shannon, the day Shannon and Phil got married. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon and evening in June 2016 at a retreat in the foothills west of Cochrane. In spite of all that had happened in the previous three years, Shannon and Phil gathered their families and friends and exchanged their wedding vows in a ceremony presided over by Judge Sean Dunnigan. The event was fun, it was relaxed and it was a welcome opportunity for all to put aside Shannon’s health issues for one day and celebrate life and love. I was fortunate to be present.

Thank you Shannon. I will never forget that evening and I will never forget you.

JAMES L. LEBO, Q.C. is partner at McLennan Ross LLP where he practices in litigation, Aboriginal law and professional liability. James is a past president of the Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch, and was a recipient of the CBA Alberta Cecilia I. Johnstone Outstanding Service Award and the CBA national SOGIC Ally Award in 2006.