Sandra Guarascio and Lindsay Lyster—In the Spotlight

This month’s spotlight is on longtime, active CLEBC volunteers Sandra Guarascio of Roper Greyell and Lindsay Lyster of Moore Edgar Lyster, the co-chairs of our upcoming Human Rights Law Conference 2017 from November 30 to December 1.

Sandra Guarascio

Sandra Guarascio

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?

I first became involved with CLEBC when as an articling student, I was asked to assist a more senior lawyer in writing a paper for the Human Rights Law Conference and attended the conference for the first time. The following year, I wrote a paper and presented myself and sometime thereafter, became a co-chair of the conference. CLEBC provides excellent opportunities for lawyers at any stage of practice to become involved in thought leadership and with the bar.

What motivates you to continue volunteering your time and expertise with CLEBC?

I really enjoy working with CLEBC and have learned so much from being involved. It is very engaging to work with the talented CLEBC staff, our planning committee, and other volunteers who are so passionate about practice and developments in the human rights area.

What do you most look forward to each year as co-chair of CLEBC’s annual Human Rights Law Conference?

I look forward to the conference itself! It is two days every year when I can indulge in being a student again and have the opportunity to learn from peers who practice at the cutting edge of an area that is fast moving. Despite the challenges in this area, the bar is very collegial and interested in the development of the law. I love being around this passion and professionalism.

Both of you are very active as instructors, with Lindsay teaching courses at UBC Law School, and Sandra teaching at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Services and BCIT. How has teaching impacted your career?

Teaching is the best way to make sure that I keep learning. I learn from peers who are teaching and from the diverse experiences of those participating in classes. It keeps me very engaged in the developments in law which I can then apply to my own practice. It is also an excellent way to network with others who are passionate about the area.

What inspired you to practise labour, employment, and human rights law?

Originally, I became interested in this area based on employment issues faced by a family member. Over time, I became more aware of the central and personal place that work occupies in our daily lives and the significant role that employment plays in society. The foundation of human rights law is equality and respect. This is more than intellectually interesting; it is foundational in our society.

What are the rewards and challenges you experience in your practice?

Labour, employment, and human rights law is full of challenges because at its core, it involves issues that are both legally complex and also very personal to the individuals involved. I primarily represent employers and it is very rewarding to work with them proactively and to problem solve so as to maintain respectful and productive workplaces where people are happy and proud to work. I find law and private practice challenging and rewarding in the best of senses, but there is a lot of responsibility for issues that matter to people and businesses, and sometimes, demanding turnarounds in complex circumstances. It can also understandably get very personal for individuals involved and also sometimes uncomfortably adversarial.

What emerging issues do you think will have a large impact in the human rights law area?

I think about this issue a lot as societies and workplaces evolve, and technology continues to advance. Workplaces are becoming more complex (greater use of technology, multi-employer worksites, evolving flexibility in how work is conducted). This will fundamentally change how workplaces and society function.

The demographics of the workforce are already having a profound impact in this area of law. People have children later, everyone is living longer, and most have to work longer as well. These sandwiched workers require greater flexibility due to family responsibilities (elder care and childcare at the same time), and as they age, some may require more flexibility or accommodation as they continue in the workplace.

I also believe that as we are seeing south of the border, there is an emboldening backlash against equality rights. This will likely continue to fuel more respectful workplace issues and conflict generally, and it will require vigilance by those responsible for workplaces and those who advocate for equality.

What advice would you give to new lawyers interested in human rights law?

Get involved. Participate in the community of lawyers and advocates who work in this area.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

In my life outside of law, I really strive to take things slow. I enjoy time with loved ones and spend a lot of time with my dogs (I have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks) on trails and adventures. I also recently moved to Bowen Island to be closer to the ocean.

Lindsay Lyster

Lindsay Lyster

How did you first get involved with CLEBC?

I have been involved with CLEBC for my whole career. I think I did my first CLEBC presentation as a student, on the then recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Brooks v. Canada Safeway, recognizing pregnancy discrimination as discrimination on the basis of sex.

What motivates you to continue volunteering your time and expertise with CLEBC?

Volunteering with CLEBC is one of the most rewarding parts of my professional life. I enjoy the collegiality of working with CLEBC staff and colleagues from across the bar to develop courses, and I also enjoy having the opportunity to share my experience and expertise with members of the bar. I have learnt a great deal in preparing and presenting at CLEBC courses throughout my career.

What do you most look forward to each year as co-chair of CLEBC’s annual Human Rights Law Conference?

I think that working with our fantastic faculty, developing and maintaining relationships with members of the bar, some of whom I more typically would deal with as opposing counsel, is the best part.

Both of you are very active as instructors, with Lindsay teaching courses at UBC Law School, and Sandra teaching at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Services and BCIT. How has teaching impacted your career?

I love teaching. I have taught a number of courses at UBC Law School over the past 20 years, and am looking forward to co-teaching the Labour Arbitration Seminar there next fall. I enjoy teaching and mentoring students, and I always learn at least as much as I teach.

What inspired you to practise labour, employment, and human rights law?

In law school, I swore I would never practice labour law because I thought it would be too adversarial. Yet labour law, together with human rights and administrative law, has formed my life’s work. What I learned, to my surprise, is that while we advocate strongly for our clients, the members of the labour law bar are a very collegial group. The bar is comparatively small, and we must work with one other repeatedly. A reputation for trustworthiness and professionalism is your most valuable asset.

What are the rewards and challenges you experience in your practice?

I love helping people to solve their real world problems. The greatest challenges have to do with overcoming the barriers to access to justice that so many people experience, especially in terms of the affordability of legal services.

What emerging issues do you think will have a large impact in the human rights law area?

I think the intersection between human rights and protection of personal privacy in an increasingly digitalized world is one of the biggest emerging issues.

What advice would you give to new lawyers interested in human rights law?

It can be difficult to find ways to practice human rights law, particularly on the complainant side. Be creative and open-minded about practice areas and means by which you can incorporate and further human rights within your practice.

Other than law, what are you passionate about?

I love playing in the mountains with my family: skiing in the winter, biking in the summer. I love gardening and cooking for friends and family. I’m also a dedicated Whovian.

 

 



Previous volunteer spotlight:
John Shields and Andrew Morrison
Back to main list
Next volunteer spotlight:
Anjili Bahadoorsingh