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Jan Advocate 2017

18 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Interestingly, while at McGill, he happened to strike up a relationship with another retrobate, Tom Conway. That year, as a cheap way of Herman getting back to the west coast for Christmas and Tom back to Calgary, they returned a rental car from Montreal to Calgary. Due to circumstances back home, Herman did not return to McGill and he and Tom lost track. Twentyfive years later, they reunited, all cleaned up, having both pursued a career in law. They had become partners in the same large national law firm and Tom had risen to treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada and then president of the Federation of Law Societies. They remain close friends. Herman began his law school experience at the University of Victoria in 1981. It was there, in second year, he met his future bride, Barbara Norell. (Barbara, of course, is a prominent litigator in Vancouver and a partner at Harper Grey LLP.) They were married in 1990. Herman articled at what was then Shrum, Liddle & Hebenton (now McCarthy Tétrault) and was called to the bar in 1985. He stayed on at Shrum, Liddle & Hebenton as an associate after his call but was soon offered a position with a small firm in Salmon Arm. He decided to give it a try. The prodigal son had returned but after nine months the big lights and big law lured him back to Shrum, Liddle & Hebenton. I first met Herman in 1988 on the occasion of my then firm, Doust & Smith, joining McCarthy Tétrault. It was immediately apparent to me he brought something different to the firm—something extra. Of course he displayed the usual qualities: very smart, dedicated, energetic and collegial. But he brought insights into the human condition over and above the usual—insights I think borne from the street, and borne from surviving the street. In many respects he had learned life the hard way and was selfmade. But, nevertheless, then, as now, he exhibits a certain humility that comes from struggle. He considers himself fortunate, not entitled. In 1992, while at McCarthy Tétrault, he and I did a commercial trial together. Our successful representation of the client ultimately resulted in the client presenting each of us with a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. (My memory is vague but I am sure I recall that Herman reported this benefit to his partners.) This began, for us, over the course of the next 20 odd years, a great friendship and our Easy Rider pilgrimages throughout North America. One really has not lived until one has observed Mr. Van Ommen sitting in a bar in El Paso, devouring a bowl of deep-fried bull testicles. Hot sauce on the side. It does, however, make for a difficult wine pairing. The most important event in 1992, however, was the birth of Herman and Barbara’s daughter, Clara. Their son, Dirk, followed in 1994. While Herman’s professional accomplishments are significant, the centre of his world


Jan Advocate 2017
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