Barry’s Bay lawyers Howe & Bradley have welcomed a third lawyer, Courtney A. Burnett. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in June and began practising this summer.
Burnett was inspired to consider law as a career by a teacher she met when attending boarding school in Lake Placid, New York. She then completed a liberal arts undergraduate degree at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, after which she obtained her law degree at the University of Ottawa. Her university experience taught her that “three years downtown was enough” for her. Back in the Valley, she divided her time as an articling student-at-law between Howe & Bradley in Barry’s Bay and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), the former AECL, in Chalk River.
An avid hockey player, Burnett went to high school in Lake Placid because of its strong winter sports program. These days she is less competitive, but regularly plays women’s hockey on Sundays for the Beachburg League — although Howe is encouraging her to find time for Friday evening hockey in Barry’s Bay, too.
She said, “I think you have to leave the Valley before you know the Valley is where you want to be.” Although Burnett’s immediate family is small, she has an extended family with “lots of cousins” going back seven generations in the Ottawa Valley. There is a strong family connection to the nuclear industry. Both her grandfathers worked at Chalk River Laboratories and her father worked at Bruce Power before returning to AECL. Her mother also works for CNL. Even Burnett’s fiancé from Round Lake is employed as a firefighter at CNL. After their wedding in October, she will change her name to O’Connor.
The three lawyers’ goal is to get Burnett up to speed with the core competencies of the practice: real estate, wills and estates, corporate law, municipal work, and some family law. She has some interest in litigation so in future may include that if it fits into the practice.
Burnett compared her experience at Howe & Bradley with that of friends at urban firms. She said, “Mentorship to this extent just doesn’t exist there. I consider myself extremely lucky.” Noting that she has the advantage of the combined 65 years of legal experience available from Bob Howe and Matt Bradley, she said she is pleased to be personally trained. She said the three of them meet regularly, unlike some of her friends in large firms who have yet to meet a partner. Burnett said she feels confident because of that training and told The Current, “People here have had good representation with Bob for 40 years and I feel that I’ve got these big shoes to fill. He’s worked so hard to ensure they have good, competent, professional, reliable legal representation.”
Burnett said the local economy has kept Howe & Bradley very busy this summer. She said that through the Renfrew County Law Association she always knew Bob was very well respected in the Valley and that he had a fantastic practice in Barry’s Bay, but she had “no clue just how busy it was and how much he had been handling on his own.” She said the real estate part of the practice in particular is thriving as more people relocate here. She said businesses are expanding and people are looking at development opportunities. She acknowledged the tradition of hard work instilled in people here. She has met people with trades and skills, often coming from a background in logging or industries, who are now expanding and turning those skills into larger businesses. She said she really admires them.
Burnett admitted there are big expectations when breaking into a new, small community. She said, “Like the community I grew up in, Deep River, news travels fast – and I want it to be good news.” Acknowledging that it’s impossible to stay anonymous in Barry’s Bay, she said, “I look forward to building a good reputation.”