THE ADVOCATE 593
VOL. 77 PART 4 JULY 2019
By R.C. Tino Bella
Neil Ornstein practised law in Vancouver for 52
years. During that time he developed the admiration
of all who worked with him. He had a remarkable
ability to befriend everyone. Family members said
that he never had a negative thing to say about anybody.
From colleagues, boards he served on or
boards before which he appeared, the repeated
words to describe Neil were professionalism, courtesy, integrity, competence
Neil was born in Fort William, Ontario. He attended Port Arthur Collegiate
Institute. In 1954 the family moved to Vancouver, where Neil obtained
a B.A. from the University of British Columbia in 1956 and an LL.B. in 1959.
He articled with Sydney Gervin and then, after his call to the bar in 1960,
he left for a year-long trip to Europe. On his return he became associated in
private practice with Wally Beck in an office near Broadway and Kingsway.
Neil joined the Land Division of BC Hydro where he worked on the land
transactions involved in building the big hydroelectric projects in the
province. He practised there until 1974. In that year he was appointed counsel
to the National Harbours Board, Port of Vancouver, initially under Fred
Spoke, CEO. He left there in 1986.
Neil returned to private practice and in 1987 joined Varty & Company. He
practised law with me for 25 years. For many years he represented refugee
claimants before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Then he moved to personal
injury law, developed a large practice of ICBC claims and enjoyed a
close association with a number of other personal injury firms in Vancouver.
Neil was known by so many for his kindness, respect, fairness and generosity.
He was one of four children. He was 31 when his mother died. Neil