THE ADVOCATE 17 VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
The astute reader, and even the only partly awake one, will guess what
comes next. Miriam started UBC law school in 1979 and did very well
indeed. What is more, she loved it. After graduating, she clerked at the
County Court, followed by articles at what was then known as the “brainy”
f irm, Shrum Liddle (now McCarthys).
Impressive legal career
I n 1984 she moved to Alexander Holburn, practising mostly commercial and
insurance litigation. She did superb work, really enjoyed herself, and made
lasting friendships. None of it was enough to keep her at the firm when the
next challenge cropped up in 1988: Chevron Canada was looking for a solicitor.
Miriam thought this sounded more positive than litigation and hoped it
would get her closer to the decision-making process. (She does, it must be
said, have a boss gene.) Of course she knew nothing about oil, gas, or being
a solicitor. She didn’t even drive a car. Of course Chevron hired her.
Miriam stayed at Chevron for three years, but she started to worry about
becoming a jack of all trades and especially a master of none. In “The World
According to Miriam”, the logical next step was to specialize in something
arcane that, once again, she knew nothing about. Pension plans and investments
sounded suitably esoteric. Miriam joined William Mercer as a pension
consultant. In no time, she was teaching CLE courses in pension law.
But Chevron, it turned out, could not do without her. Miriam rejoined the
company in 1994 to manage the in-house legal group, eventually becoming
general counsel. This was perfect for her—she never got bored. A typical
day might f ind her in union negotiations, vetting a contract or a press
release, dealing with an environmental problem, and visiting a ref inery (in
a fetching hard hat, no less). Chevron managed to keep Miriam interested
for the next 21 years.
After Miriam left Chevron in 2015, she once again renovated her legal
career from the ground up. Today, she divides her time between the Law
Society, her work as commissioner for the B.C. Utilities Commission (a position
to which the government appointed her in 2016) and her role as associate
counsel with her former f irm, Alexander Holburn.
It goes without saying that Miriam is scary smart. She has an uncanny
ability to cut to the core of an issue and come up with the soundest, most
practical, and most strategic response, often in mere minutes. Always, she
softens this with a huge dose of tact. “What an interesting idea,” she might
say when faced with a howling inanity. “Have you considered maybe tweaking
it a bit this way … ?” She is a model of integrity and a gifted lawyer. In
2011, to no one’s surprise, she was awarded a Q.C. designation.