Partner Michael Solowan practises municipal, education and administrative law working for public sector clients including the provincial government, municipalities, school boards and public agencies.
He is keenly interested in public service, which led him to choose municipal law as his primary focus. “The idea of combining law with public policy, looking at something that deals with the public good and that has an impact on people’s daily lives, is a big interest for me,” he explains.
For his municipal clients, Michael offers an on-the-ground understanding of the issues and challenges that councils and administrations face. Early on in his career he worked as the City Solicitor for a growing mid-sized city – where he was also a member of the executive management team – which has given him a unique understanding of how municipalities work.
Born in Edmonton, Michael grew up in Alberta and B.C. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in communications from Trinity Western University in 1997, and a law degree (LL.B. with distinction) from the University of Alberta in 2005. Michael articled at Brownlee and was called to the bar in Alberta (2006) and Saskatchewan (2016).
When a client hires Michael, “they hire Brownlee and they hire the team,” he notes. “The world is getting more complex, and the law is following suit. No single individual knows everything. The benefit of a team is that you get the unique skill sets, perspectives and legal knowledge of all of the individuals who make up Brownlee. It comes back to access to the wealth of knowledge and experience that we have as a firm.”
Michael had many reasons for choosing law as a career. “I thought it was a good fit for me,” he recalls. “Law is a challenging area, and you have the opportunity to take something that is complex and try to simplify it. There’s also an aspect of teaching or education that I appreciate about it – a big part of the job is educating. And I definitely like advocating for people – I like being able to help people.”
Michael’s main advice for a law student or first year associate, is to keep an open mind. “The law is so much broader than many people realize,” he says. “Don’t pigeonhole yourself too early on, or set up your career in a certain way, because you may be missing out on a lot of unique opportunities.”
In terms of a law career, he adds, “I think the big thing, is to make sure you’re getting into it for the right reasons. It’s a very tough, challenging career, although it can be very rewarding.”
Michael sees a bright future for Brownlee, with continued growth and expanded markets, particularly in Saskatchewan. “People here are looking to the future, and they’re looking to make the firm better than it was when they got here.”
As for his own professional goals, he wants to grow with his clients; to continue to find ways to serve them better; and to continue developing into a leader in his field. He volunteers with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre, which offers pro bono legal advice to low income people in the Edmonton area.
Michael is married, with two daughters. An avid cyclist, he goes road riding and mountain biking in the summer, and fat biking in the winter. One of his personal goals is to complete a Gran Fondo – an organized long distance road cycling event – every year.
- CBA Community Involvement