Carman J. Overholt, QC, of Law’84, is a highly respected labour and employment lawyer who practises law in Vancouver, B.C. Carman has argued many noteworthy cases before the courts. He is a Past President of the B.C Branch of the Canadian Bar Association and has been involved in continuing legal education (including working with Queen’s Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace).
But it is his impressive work with the community – everything from founding Pro Bono Law of B.C. to introducing new Queen’s grads to the Vancouver legal community – that has made him the 2013 winner of the Kathleen Beaumont Hill Award.
It’s the highest honour given by the Vancouver Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association to an individual for outstanding service, advocacy, dedicated support and contributions to the betterment of Queen’s and our country.
“I am humbled by this wonderful honour. I’ve been working so hard for years to give something back to the school that gave me so much,” says Carman. “When I was at Queen’s, I had so many wonderful opportunities to participate in the life of the university and it touched me in a profound way.”
The highlight of his legal career didn’t come in a court room. Carman says it was being involved in the creation of Pro Bono Law of B.C.
Carman noticed there were many young lawyers who wanted to give back. He realized there was a need to structure and formalize the delivery of pro bono legal services and to promote the importance of pro bono work to the legal profession. He started working on the Pro Bono Initiative in the late 1990s and the process took more than three years. He never anticipated the range of issues that would need to be addressed. In the end, the B.C. legal community supported the Pro Bono Initiative to supplement government-funded legal aid but not to replace it.
Carman credits his Queen’s student days and his work with the Queen’s Legal Aid Society with inspiring his drive to start Pro Bono Law of B.C.
“I started an initiative to set up a Montreal Street Clinic as a law student. I was really touched by the needs of the Kingston community. Legal Aid made me excited about the practice of law and that experience stayed with me,” says Carman, who fondly remembers Professors Don Carter, Bernie Adell and others who had a significant role in his education.
He still has close ties to the university. He helps organize Homecoming Reunions for the law class of 1984, has served on the Dean of Law’s Alumni Advisory Group, and introduces new Queen’s law gads who move out to B.C. to the Vancouver legal community.
The Kathleen Beaumont Hill Award will be presented to Carman at a reception in Vancouver on September 25 .