Sense of Adventure
It’s been a busy 15 years since Vaughn MacLellan graduated with his bachelor of laws degree from the University of New Brunswick.
His UNB degree launched him straight to the London School of Economics, where he picked up a master of laws degree. After articling in Halifax, he moved to Toronto to join Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, where he’s now a partner practicing in corporate and securities law.
In his spare time, he teaches a course at the UNB law school and regularly presents at the TSX Venture Exchange’s success workshops, where he also serves on the Ontario Local Advisory Committee. He’s served as the contributing author for the Securities title of Halsbury’s Laws of Canada published in 2008 as well.
He’s also run three marathons, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and hiked Machu Picchu.
MacLellan says it’s his “sense of adventure” that has motivated him, but he’s modest about the accomplishments. One Chicago Marathon and two Ottawa Marathons? “I haven’t run one in a few years.”
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak? “It seemed like a very manageable trip, that I could climb one of the seven peaks without having to put my life on the line.”
Machu Picchu, the isolated Incan ruins? “My friend was looking for a way to do some novel fundraising for the MS Society.”
While many tourists choose to visit Machu Picchu by train, MacLellan and two friends made the trek to the Incan ruins by foot as part of the inaugural MS Climb fundraiser in 2008, which he says made the trip more grueling than his climb of Mount Kilimanjaro – “or at least I was older than when I climbed Kilimanjaro, and it certainly seemed that way.”
Beyond that, he’s modest again — “I think the MS Society is a great cause, so I decided to do it” — but not without raising close to $15,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada as part of the $150,000 raised that year by the inaugural MS Climb group.
MacLellan, who is from Moncton, and his wife, Tiffany Jay, of Halifax, maintain strong ties to the Maritimes, and have built a cottage in PEI where they enjoy visits with family and friends.
‘Frustrated would-be litigator’
While he was lured to law school by the pop-culture perception of lawyers as litigators, MacLellan found himself going down the path of corporate and securities law instead.
“I’ve always been interested in capital markets, stock exchange listings and mergers and acquisitions,” he says. “I wanted to do more of that.”
He managed to find a career without the confrontation of the courtroom, but he calls himself a “frustrated would-be litigator” — he still loves public speaking.
Speaking to the public has found him talking at Ontario Bar Association continuing legal education conferences and giving shareholder-meeting workshops for the TSX Venture Exchange. “It’s my way of getting a balance, of getting to do what I would enjoy about litigation,” he says.
So when he was looking for ways to give back to his alma mater, it made sense that he found himself teaching a class on corporate transactions to UNB law students.
Each winter term, he and his colleague, fellow UNB alumni Kevin Fritz, head to Fredericton to teach the weekly course. It was engineered, MacLellan explains, to familiarize students with the real situations they’ll face when they enter the practice of law.
“We wanted to introduce students to all of the practical elements of corporate transactions, and then also provide them with precedents and a foundation so that when they do get in practice, they understand what’s happening,” he says. “We lead the students through the principal steps and issues you encounter doing transactions.”
The class is a hit for the students, but MacLellan says they’re not the only ones learning.
“It gives me an opportunity to look back and revisit those fundamentals you always encounter, and allows me to refocus a little bit.”
The UNB Faculty of Law, based out of the Fredericton campus, gave MacLellan a strong foundation as a lawyer and some of the best friends he’s ever had.
“UNB has always attempted to focus very much on solid, basic legal education to create a strong young lawyer, so that you’re coming out of law school with a very good grounding in the legal fundamentals you need to know when you’re practicing,” he says.
“I developed a lot of great friendships,” he continues. “I think I got that more than I would have at a lot of other law schools. I don’t think any of them can beat UNB for the social atmosphere. It was a pretty special place in that way.”
He credits the efforts of Wade MacLauchlan, who was the dean of law when he attended law school, for making the school what it was. “He worked very hard on making sure that the law school remained focused and relevant,” says MacLellan.
Giving back to UNB is important to MacLellan, who on top of teaching at the school is a donor through the Class of 1995 law scholarship.
“UNB has a strong alumni network,” he says. “It doesn’t matter that they’re in the Maritimes or Toronto or Vancouver. … People are prepared to give back.”
Contributed by Josh O’Kane, UNB Communications & Marketing