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Western Canada General Counsel Awards to honour former Imperial Oil legal executive

Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 12:51 PM | By Carolyn Gruske


At its ceremony on Nov. 9 in Calgary, the Western Canada General Counsel Awards will name William (Bill) Hartnett as the 2017 recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Before retiring at the end of 2016, Hartnett, a native of Calgary, was vice-president and general counsel of Imperial Oil Limited, and prior to that he served as general counsel at Imperial Oil subsidiaries Esso Chemical Canada in Toronto and Esso Resources Canada Limited in Calgary.

Besides his work in-house counsel work, Hartnett gained prominence for this work in helping to establish pro bono services. In Ontario, he was chair of the Inquiry into Legal Aid in Ontario, which was an 18-month inquiry that resulted in a 106-page report issued in September, 1986. He was also a founding member of of the Volunteer Lawyers Service in Alberta's management committee. (Today, Volunteer Lawyers Service in Alberta is part of Pro Bono Alberta.)

Hartnett was an active member of the Canadian Bar Association, and served on a wide variety of CBA committees, task forces and councils, including the National Council, Ontario Council, Alberta Council, and the CBA-Ontario Executive Committee. He was also part of the CBA's National Advisory Committee's Justice Task Force, which looked into the state of the Canadian civil justice system in order to develop strategies and mechanisms to facilitate the modernization of the civil justice system.

Additionally, Hartneet was president of the Canadian Foundation for Dispute Resolution, which was a non-profit alliance of over 60 corporations and law firms working to promote the early and creative resolution of business disputes. (In July 2000, the foundation merged with the Arbitration and Mediation Institute of Canada to become the ADR Institute of Canada.)

A list of the finalists for the other awards is available online.