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Queen's University

Q&A with 2013 Kathleen Beaumont Hill Award winner Carman Overholt, Law'84

This year’s winner of the Kathleen Beaumont Hill Award, given by the Vancouver Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association, is Carman J. Overholt, Law’84. The Award is presented annually to an outstanding Queen’s alumnus in British Columbia.

[photo of Carman Overholt] As a student, Carman won the Tricolour Award for his distinguished service, including two years working with the Queen’s Legal Aid Society. In 2002, Carman was appointed Queen’s Counsel by Order-in-Council of the Province of British Columbia.

Today, Carman is a successful labour and employment lawyer in downtown Vancouver with his own law firm of three lawyers. Carman is the Past President of the Canadian Bar Association (B.C. Branch) and founding Chair and Past President of Pro Bono Law of B.C. He is actively involved in the Queen’s community – doing everything from introducing recent Queen’s law grads to the Vancouver legal community to being on the Dean’s Alumni/ae Advisory Group and organizing class reunions as the Permanent Class President of Law’84.

How does it feel to be this year’s winner of the Kathleen Beaumont Hill Award?

I am humbled by the whole experience because I’ve been working so hard for years to give something back to the school that gave me so much.”

You do a lot of volunteer activities with Queen’s. Why is it important to you to give back?

It really comes down to the fact that my Queen’s experience set me on a rewarding path in my career and personal life. I was able to acquire knowledge, skills and experience that assisted me in building my career as a lawyer. I am originally from London, Ontario but a job offer right after law school took me out to British Columbia. With continued support from Queen’s alumni/ae in the Vancouver area, I was successful in building a successful law practice and a very happy life.”   

Last year you started your own law firm – Overholt Law. Why did you make the change?

“I really enjoyed my experience in big firms. I was an equity partner in a large national law firm for many years. I knew my firm was going to become a part of an international merger and I wanted to do something different at this stage in my life. After some careful thought, I established Overholt Law. We now have three lawyers and are growing. I have found the experience to be liberating and it has renewed my love of the practice of law.”

What has been the highlight of your legal career?

“I have had many great experiences in my practice including acting as legal counsel in many matters before the Courts. However, I am most proud of my contribution to creating Pro Bono Law of B.C. I’ll trace it back to Queen’s. When I was a student, I had the opportunity to be the Director of the Queen’s Legal Aid Society that operated clinics in Kingston and other communities in the area. More than 100 law students were involved in the program. I remember being involved in establishing the Montreal Street Clinic. I was touched by the needs of the Kingston community including the families of inmates at the various correctional facilities located in the Kingston area. The Queen’s Legal Aid Society made me excited about the practice of law and that experience has always stayed with me. Many young lawyers want to give back and there really was a need to structure and to formalize the delivery of pro bono legal services in B.C. We embarked on establishing Pro Bono Law of BC in the late 1990s and it took about three to four years before it happened. You hope your initiatives will stand the test of time and I am proud and happy to see its continued success.”

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000

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