Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/10/2020 (328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
What originally began as a memoir for his children and grandchildren became a book recently launched by Jack London.
Born in Winnipeg’s North End, London went on to travel the world, become the dean of law at the University of Manitoba and practice law with an interest in tax law and Indigenous law.
Serendipity: My Path through Life and Law took London 23 years to write, and 27 drafts, before being published in September by Heartland Associates and launched on Oct. 15 online. The eBook of the same name will be available at the end of October.
The book tells a first-person account of London’s peripatetic journey through various careers in law, including anecdotes about his childhood on Lake Winnipeg, growing up, meeting his wife Belva and having children. Interspersed are comments on how society should improve ethically and legally, plus his personal philosophy.
Nearly at the end of the book, London explains his six philosophies which guide him in life: like everything and have an open mind; walk through new career doors only if they lead to more opportunities; play to your strengths, not weaknesses; surround yourself with people who are smarter than you; when life sets you back, work through easy decisions first; and you only come around once, so enjoy life.
"I’m very much non-judgmental in my thoughts and actions, something I’ve tried to teach my children and grandchildren," he said. "I’ve had so many setbacks in my career, many of which turned out to lead to happy new careers."
London said he won the genetic lottery, as the youngest son of Polish immigrants, and he was born in Canada. He got an early lesson in how to connect with audiences and respect other cultures during his work as a 12-year-old barker at his parents’ beachside carnival at Lake Winnipeg.
"My parents were dedicated to me. They trusted me, and set me free to pursue my own path at a young age."
He obtained a law degree from the University of Manitoba, originally thinking he’d pursue a career in criminal justice. Instead, an opportunity came up to focus on tax law, followed by a master’s in law at Harvard. He later returned to the U of M, first as a professor and later dean from 1979 to 1984, when he was known as the "blue jean dean."
After an appointment as Queen’s Counsel of Manitoba, he served for more than a decade as legal counsel to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, arguing cases on Indigenous rights before the Supreme Court of Canada and serving at the side of Grand Chief Phil Fontaine for more than twenty years. In 1991, the AMC honoured London with his own eagle feather, for his role as counsel to the chiefs who, with Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, challenged the Meech Lake Accord.
London is currently senior council with local firm Pitblado LLP, where he said there "is no need to leave law because I’m in the perfect situation and the best of health. I’m practicing with lawyers who are smarter than me, and who support me."
For a man in his seventies, London said he still feels like he’s 17. "I have the same sense of life and level of activity I’ve always had, along with the same level of ambition," he said.
London will be the guest speaker at the U of M faculty of law’s virtual homecoming event on Nov. 5, in a fireside chat with host David Asper, acting dean of law. The homecoming also features professor John Irvine on teaching 50 years of Donaghue vs. Stevenson at Robson Hall.
For more on the book, see www.mcnallyrobinson.com