Business View Civil & Municipal | Volume 2, Issue 8

16 CIVIL AND MUNICIPAL VOLUME 2, ISSUE 8 GUEST Q&A electronically, and a lot of filings for the land titles office – which was not the case 10 years ago. It started to shift maybe five years ago, but the pandemic has created a basis for moving those opportunities forward. The day that you walk into a lawyer’s office and see boxes and boxes of documents is no longer. It’s all on the computer. Our offices are 80 percent paperless. That makes us feel good because it’s environmentally friendly. And it is efficient because a computer can search faster than a person going through, for example 10 boxes, to find one document. “The pandemic has not been a problem for us from a technology perspective, because we were already set up prior to COVID. We were using video conferencing between the offices and with clients across the country. We comfortably moved right into full video conferencing and having people work from home.” BVM: How do you see the landscape of municipal law evolving in the next three to five years? Currie: “There is going to be a massive amount of municipal work coming forward. The regulatory and statutory schemes being developed for municipalities will require lawyers to be acutely aware of how those statutes affect municipalities. So there will be a substantial amount of growth in this area of the law. “Municipalities are involved in everything. So aside from the basic growth of municipal law, we see now indigenous governments that are going to start to interact with local governments and that’s going to create a whole bandwidth of work for lawyers. And, as I indicated, the transportation law industry is going to interact with local government, and lawyers are going to have to understand what municipal local government law is about – what powers they have and how those powers can be exercised. How does local government law interact with Federal and Provincial Law. “I’m hoping for the future that more lawyers will understand how powerful municipalities really are. If you look at their statutes, they’ve been given extraordinary powers to enforce their by- laws and to make decisions for the people who elected them – both in planning, and regulation of human behavior, at a very local level.” BVM: Have careers in municipal law and indigenous law and transportation law become more popular? Currie: I would say indigenous law is popular. However, not transportation or Municipal law. I’d say it’s going to be a situation where these areas are going to burgeon way ahead of young people recognizing the opportunity, particularly students, recognizing the value of where they would go to get work. Problem two is that none of the areas of the law are considered ‘sexy’. It’s technically solid law, very good practices. Young students and lawyers do not realize that many municipalities have some of the highest-end commercial agreements a lawyer will see. In addition, municipalities are often involved in the most complex of administrative law issues. “If we’re talking about a P3 (public-private partnership), those agreements start at $150 million and are very intense. We’re doing developments at $50 million and $100 million all the time. But students don’t see that. When we’re talking about an 800-home subdivision outside of Calgary, where the gross value is probably better than a billion dollars in development activity, it’s very hard to explain to a young lawyer exactly what they’re getting into – they just don’t have the background to it. So right now, we’re trying to work through that by teaching at the law schools to build awareness. “The other problem we find is that there are no real books on municipal law. Rogers on Municipal Law is three volumes thick, very fine print, and the result is there is no simple how-to manual in municipal law. You must dig in and that gets scary for young people, and for many lawyers. So I’m writing a book to assist with this concern.”