Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Leading criminal defence lawyer encourages new grads to become lifelong learners    

(June 21, 2017)

Don Bayne, Law’69, standing before Chancellor James Leech to receive an honorary LLD, is hooded by Dean Bill Flanagan.
Don Bayne, Law’69, standing before Chancellor James Leech to receive an honorary LLD, is hooded by Dean Bill Flanagan. (Photo by Greg Black)

Over his illustrious 45-year career, Don Bayne, Law’69 (Arts’66, EMBA’01), has conducted trial and appellate advocacy at all levels of court in Canada and at public inquiries around the world. But on June 9, he made a different kind of appearance. Standing before the Queen’s Law Class of 2017 in Grant Hall, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and delivered his Convocation address.  

The first member of his family to go to university and a “prairie boy with Manitoba and Saskatchewan farming roots,” Bayne urged each new graduate to become what he still is: a lifelong learner. 

“No one can fully or accurately predict even what the near future (the next decade), let alone the mid and distant future will hold for the world you’ll live in and how change will affect your life, job or career,” he said, speaking to members of the generation that faces a world of increasingly accelerating change.

“There’s rampant speculation about AI and its impact on society, work, research, jobs, legal careers, the nature and form of the practice of law, the shape of law firms, the nature of legal education, advanced thinking and knowledge, transportation,” he continued.  

“The same may be said about about robotics, 3D printing, Internet speeds subject to Moore’s law, wholly new technologies and platforms and apps, biotechnologies, communications, travel; legal and ethical questions about all of the above; then there’s even space travel and the big, consequential reality of climate change.” 

Don Bayne, Law’69, LLD’17, delivers his Convocation address to new Queen’s Law graduates in Grant Hall.
Don Bayne, Law’69, LLD’17, delivers his Convocation address to new Queen’s Law graduates in Grant Hall. (Photo by Greg Black)

Adaptability, agility, flexibility and willingness to keep engaging in the pursuit of knowledge – these are the characteristics he identified for both professional and personal success. 

Bayne’s philosophy has served him well. A founding partner of Bayne Sellar Ertel Carter in Ottawa and a designated specialist in criminal litigation, he has defended high-profile cases in Canada, the Soviet Union and Ukraine involving murder, complicated conspiracies, and war crimes. He’s been part of public inquires involving Somalia, Maher Arar and Frank Iacobucci. His other honours include receiving the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal (2006) from the national Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Catzman Award for Professionalism and Civility (2016) from The Advocates’ Society.   

“My own muddling through life as a lifelong learner by choice will become an absolute necessity for you in a rapidly changing world, a world each of you will have to adapt to as professionals, as lawyers and as human beings,” he said to the new graduates. “Keep learning. The journey has really just begun.”

By Lisa Graham