2016-2017 Mtre Alec Fafard

Mtre Alec Fafard : A tender-hearted lawyer
By Gislaine Dufault, Communications Director
(Article published on April 5, 2017)

At the Annual General Meeting on May 10, 2017, Bâtonnier Simon Tremblay will award the Merit of The Bar of Montreal to Mtre Alec Fafard in honour of his exceptional contribution to the Bar of Montreal. “After participating many times myself in the Salon VISEZ DROIT, I certainly noticed the major role Mtre Fafard has played in its success. I am therefore very glad to finally shine the spotlight on someone who works behind the scenes,” said Bâtonnier Tremblay.

An advocate of youth protection
With a degree in political science from McGill, and then in law from Université de Montréal, Mtre Fafard was called to the Bar in 1992. He began his career at the SAAQ, where he cross-examined experts. Although he was there for only two years, his time at the SAAQ not only honed his reflexes in cross-examination, but also helped him to develop an intellectual rigour that has served him well throughout his career.

In 1994, he was recruited as a litigation lawyer by Mtre Normand Bastien, then director of the legal aid office for youth, and judge in the Court of Quebec’s Youth Division (currently retired). Mtre Fafard, a young lawyer who was conciliatory by nature and hated conflict, and could not imagine himself practising family law, embarked on this new adventure.

Not long after, his decision was confirmed when one of his first clients in the Youth Division, a little boy of 6, took hold of his leg, looked up, and asked him if he would like to be his daddy. Even today, it is hard for Mtre Fafard to tell this story without his brown eyes welling up. Over the years, Alec has joined the limited ranks of experts in youth protection, an emotionally difficult field of practice, since it involves working with children whose safety has been compromised.

From port to port
During Mtre Fafard’s childhood, his family moved numerous times because his father worked for External Affairs. As a result, he undeniably became more open to the world, learned how to quickly adjust to new environments and not just accept differences, but value them. These were all essential qualities for working in the cultural mosaic that marked his daily life in legal aid. But living the globetrotting life made it hard to make and keep friends. No doubt that is why he has a deep need to connect with people.

Getting on track
Alec was in Secondary V (grade 12), when his family returned to Quebec. Very good at oral presentations, he was asked to help host an awards night. His father, who recognized Alec’s definite talent for public speaking, suggested that he might want to study law, but young Alec could not see how his need for human contact could be reconciled with the coldness of a code, no matter how civil it was.

Interested in finding the right words, the ones that would soothe and comfort, he entered college with the intention of studying psychology. There he met his beloved Catherine, a dynamic young woman who was considering a career in law. Alec changed his plans when he realized that law, which he had first thought of as cold, was an extraordinary tool to help others, and, little by little, help make the world a better place. He ended up becoming a lawyer, and Catherine…a neuropsychologist!

Two children later — Charlotte and Jérôme —, Alec has become the father he dreamed of being. His family takes the pole position for him; if his practice has taught him one thing over and over, it is the importance of family in a child’s development.

A dedicated volunteer
In 2007, Alec was recruited to help mount the Salon VISEZ DROIT. Immediately challenged by this cause, he decided to throw himself into it heart and soul.

In addition to attending the many committee meetings necessary to prepare the high calibre programming, Alec spends the entire week at the Salon, running here and there to welcome visitors, find a guest who has wandered away, get water for the exhibitors and the consulting lawyers, and climb up on stage to act out a wide range of colourful characters. The tender-hearted lawyer is ready with affectionate hugs for one and all, even going so far as to offer massage therapy to his exhausted colleagues.

Improvising as host, actor and writer, he comes up with a variety of scripts for students to act out on stage. After writing the scripts, he then goes to the schools to meet with the students and help them rehearse as he makes them aware of their rights and obligations, something that projects a human and attractive image of the profession.

According to Mtre Horia Bundaru, the Chair of the organizing committee, “Alec is a real pillar of the Salon VISEZ DROIT. Not only does he give the event a soul, he also takes young colleagues under his wing and passes on to them his passion for protecting the most vulnerable”. Newcomers are welcomed so warmly that they in turn become committed members, concerned about the image they project.

To pay tribute to the contribution of this exemplary ambassador, the Council of the Bar of Montreal, with the support of the Conference of former Bâtonniers, has chosen to award him the Merit of The Bar of Montreal.

Congratulations, Mtre Fafard, and on behalf of the 14,500 lawyers of Montreal, thank you!