Partner Ronald (Ron) Nelson, one of the most experienced litigators in Brownlee’s Edmonton office, primarily practises in the area of insurance defence litigation. He handles commercial general liability and property claims, municipal/public sector defence, personal injury, product liability, occupiers’ liability, administrative and professional errors and omissions (E&O), construction claims and insurance coverage claims.
Ron has appeared at all levels of Court in Alberta, and frequently also handles claims in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. He also heads up Brownlee’s Municipal/Public Sector Defence Practice and is the lead lawyer in defending and advising one of the largest and most successful municipal insurance programs in Western Canada.
Another significant focus is professional indemnity defence work. This E&O experience involves a wide array of professionals including architects, engineers, insurance brokers, financial planners, surveyors and environmental consultants.
In addition to the domestic insurance market, Ron is very familiar with the London market, and is Brownlee’s primary Edmonton partner charged with developing and handling Lloyd’s-related work.
Ron is also proud to be a key Brownlee contact with the Canadian Litigation Counsel (CLC) and the Harmonie Group, an international, invitation-only network of elite law firms. The focus of all firms within CLC and the Harmonie Group is strategic defence litigation for the insurance industry, self-insured or high retention corporations, and non-profit organizations.
Born in Calgary and raised in Edmonton, Ron graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a law degree (LL.B.) in 1986. He joined Brownlee in 1986, as an articling student, and was called to the bar in Alberta (1987), Northwest Territories (2007), Nunavut (2008) and Yukon (2012).
Ron enjoys the ongoing challenges of his law career and the demands of being one of Brownlee’s most experienced litigators. He also cherishes the valuable relationships he has made over the years, both within the legal community across North America, and throughout the insurance community in Canada and London.
“Undoubtedly the demands of a busy law practice are significant, but I am proud to say that I have forged great and long lasting friendships with other counsel, including my adversaries, and also count as good friends many of the clients I have worked with over the years.”
With experience Ron has come to understand that the true value of a lawyer, particularly in the litigation area, is not about bravado or gamesmanship, it is about timely and effective advice and working strategically and openly with your client to get the best result possible. “Most of my clients in the insurance industry deal with very significant and complex claims, and the demands on them are different, but every bit as challenging as the demands that I face,” he says. “As a result, the essence of my job is to do what I can to make my client’s life easier on the files where I can assist, and allow them to get great results and be successful on those files.”
Ron also appreciates the fact that his successes are not his alone but the product of a very strong team effort within Brownlee. “I have the privilege of working with an amazing assistant and exceptional lawyers, students and paralegals who make my professional life so much easier, affording me the time and opportunity to handle my workload effectively, and continue in the promotional efforts so important to developing my practice.”
Being firm minded and understanding the importance of legacy issues is also a focus for Ron in his role as a senior partner within Brownlee. “It is critical for a senior partner to ensure that younger talented lawyers have full opportunity to develop their skills and practices in order to become the future building blocks of our firm,” he says. “With the talent we have at Brownlee from top to bottom, I see a bright future for our firm and a real opportunity to be one of Western Canada’s premier law firms.”
Not only does Ron fully appreciate the contribution of many others within Brownlee, he also underscores the importance of his family in providing ongoing love and support over the years. His wife Lori and two children, Ally and Max, are a constant source of inspiration and a necessary distraction from the rigours of a busy legal practise. “Spending time with my kids through the years through all of the various sports my son has been involved in, and in my daughter’s passion for dance, has been therapeutic for me, and are years I will always cherish.”
Summing up his life and career as a litigation lawyer, Ron stresses the importance of respect, diligence, and honesty as being common threads that run through all aspects of his life.
“The successes we achieve both in our career and family life, the respect and reputation we earn and the friendships we make along the way do not happen by accident,” he says. “Rather, they are the product of hard work, respect for others and the honesty we have with ourselves and others. These are values I want to pass on to both my children and the younger lawyers at Brownlee who will soon carry the torch for our very special firm.”