Brownlee LLP Partner Rodd Thorkelsson is a senior commercial lawyer whose main practice areas are focused on real estate and development; infrastructure and utilities, including public-private partnerships and regional service delivery; telecommunications; and alternative and sustainable energy.
Why hire Rodd?
“I am a problem solver and a deal maker, and that means delivering value to the client,” he says. “Clients seek out my advice and assistance, because I solve problems. Invariably, the legal matters that clients bring to us are far more complex than they realize. Our job is to find a way through it all to allow them to make a decision, take action, and then move on. The more that we invest in educating and training our lawyers and staff to do the same, the more our clients benefit from and appreciate this approach.”
Born and raised in Edmonton, Rodd graduated from the University of Alberta in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology, and a law degree (LL.B.) in 1994. He was called to the bar and joined Brownlee in 1995.
Rodd has been a sessional instructor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Extension, Government Studies, since 2005. He is also a sessional presenter for the Legal Education Society of Alberta.
Rodd chose law as a career because of his strong principles and sense of right and wrong. Over and above that, he enjoys the ongoing challenge the law provides.
Hailing from a family of architects, Rodd chose his area of the law because he has always been interested in real estate and development. “It has always been a part of my life and the way I think,” he says.
What motivates him daily, is his dedication to his clients and their needs – “helping clients with problems they can’t possibly solve on their own,” he says. “It just so happens that solving problems is pretty interesting for someone like me.” In particular, he relishes the challenge of being presented with a multitude of issues, problems, facts and circumstances, and coming up with a solution that solves the issues, while at the same time accomplishing the client’s larger goals.
Rodd believes that a good lawyer is someone who invests in themselves and in their continuing education. “Education – educating yourself, educating other lawyers and clients, and educating others in general is a big part of who I am, and as a result is a big part of who we are as a firm.”
Rodd’s advice to a first year associate or law student, is to “be prepared to invest in yourself by making sure you understand all aspects of what you’re doing. The hallmark of a good student or a good junior lawyer is someone who doesn’t make any assumptions, and when they don’t understand something, they go and look for the answers from those around them or from any other resources available. Resourcefulness and always being willing to ask questions – that’s the sign of a good lawyer. Good lawyers such as myself and our partners do that every day.”
The strengths of Brownlee’s team approach allow Brownlee’s team members to bring to bear all of the skills and knowledge of the entire firm on any of the practice areas the firm is focused on.
“These are individuals with not only the right skills, knowledge and experience, they are also passionate about what they do, and passionate about helping clients,” Rodd says. “When you combine that with our collaborative approach and service model, it means more effective and more efficient service, better value for clients, and a better long-term relationship – that’s really what we’re looking for with our clients.”
Clients hire Brownlee because the firm takes a long-term view of client relationships. “This means that we invest in our clients and their immediate and long-term needs and goals, just as much as they invest in us,” Rodd explains. “Whether it’s our collaborative approach to service and client relationships across all practice areas to provide effective and efficient service; value-added services and resources, such as our education programs, helpline advice, and expanding interactive client portal communications; or any of the other resources we offer – it’s all geared to creating, maintaining, and promoting long-term client relationships that are based on providing value to our clients and helping them succeed.”
There is a constant evolution of the firm’s information technology systems and related software to make the firm more efficient, allowing Brownlee to provide better service to its clients. The firm also has its sights set on expanding its client base to more and more industries.
Volunteering is a hallmark of Brownlee, with the firm contributing to and building communities. “It’s intertwined not only with our legal work, it’s also part of what we do as individuals and as groups outside our practice and outside the office,” says Rodd, who sits on the board of directors of the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, in addition to supporting various charitable organizations. “Whether it’s individual or collective charity work, there is a general expectation that everyone in the firm is contributing to their community in some manner.”
And as proud as he is of what he and his colleagues have built at Brownlee, and of the firm’s continuing achievements, Rodd is most proud of his family. “My wife also believes strongly in education and giving back to the communities we live and work in. She works tirelessly at overseeing, developing and improving national and local professional educational programs in her profession as a physiotherapist, and instructing within the University of Alberta programs as a teaching assistant, all in addition to a very busy practice. In addition, we’re each active in competitive sports and training, and as a result our children also balance their focuses on sports and education.”
- Broadband development and deployment projects, operations and service delivery.
- IP development, licensing and commercialization.
- Intermunicipal, regional and collaborative infrastructure and service delivery.
- Sustainable/Alternative energy projects and services, including solar, co-generation, small scale generation.
- All manners of commercial financing, real estate transactions, and commercial leasing for private and public sector.
- Creation of regional service entities and projects, providing a myriad of functions and services including non-profit and for profit operations.
- Advising upon and representing parties in public-private partnership (P3) transactions, ranging from public facilities (court house, and recreational), water utility infrastructure, to social/cultural/athletic facilities, to road infrastructure.
- Represented the Province of Alberta in the preparation and negotiation of public-private partnership (P3) agreements.
- Creation, management, and operation of all manners of utility assets and services, together with acquisition and sale of utility and service assets.
- Creation, management, and operation of all manners of telecommunications assets and services, together with acquisition and sale of telecommunication assets.
- Member, Canadian Bar Association
- Member, Edmonton Bar Association
- Member, Law Society of Alberta
- Member, Mortgage Loans Association of Alberta
- Sessional Instructor, University of Alberta Faculty of Extension, Government Studies, 2005 to present
- Sessional Presenter, Legal Education Society, “Analyzing Commercial Lease Contracts”, March, 2012